Trainers help limit damage to land

18 Aug 2010

In Timor Leste, the percentage of land degradation is close to 40 per cent and most of this damage comes from misuse by humans.

To raise awareness within communities about issues relating to land degradation, UNDP established a sustainable land management (SLM) project in July 2007.

One of the project’s biggest achievements was training sustainable land management trainers at national, district and suco level.

As Paula da Cruz, Programme Manager for the sustainable land project says: “We have facilitated training sessions to develop the knowledge and skills of local people, particularly government officials and staff of NGOs.

“They are then equipped to pass-on the training to others in the community, so they can use and manage their land in a proper manner, to avoid or to reverse land degradation,” she says.

The objective of the SLM project is to ensure that agricultural, forest and other terrestrial land uses in Timor-Leste are sustainable.

It is vital to support systems that maintain ecosystem productivity while contributing directly to the environmental, economic and social well-being of the country.

The project also facilitated studies on land management issues to inform development, planning and policy decision-making; and developed guidelines and reviewed policies and institutional mandates to help relevant sectors find ways to integrate sustainable land management practices into their work.

Through the SLM, a strong link was also established between different national NGOs.

These organizations will continue to raise community awareness, in all districts, about the impact of land degradation.

They will also work with staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), the National Directorate for Forestry, and the State Secretariat for Environment, to provide training in every district.

In addition, the SLM project supported the drafting of National Action Plan to combat land degradation in the country.

Once approved, the plan can be used as a framework for achieving sustainable land management objectives and contribute to achieving the objectives of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, which Timor-Leste signed in 2003.

Felisberto Pereira, from Coffee Cooperative Timor (CCT), a counterpart of the SLM project, says: “The legacy of the SLM project is very significant for the process of increasing community awareness about the issue of land degradation.

“Land is often managed for multiple benefits, such as agricultural production, biodiversity conservation, water quality, soil health and supporting human life. On behalf of other NGOs, we would like to thank UNDP for this initiative,” he says.