Green Right Now Reports 

Desertification threatens lands across the planet as weather extremes worsen and development strips areas of protective trees and vegetation.

land for life 2013 winner

Foundation for Ecological Security has put land into sustainable management in India.

Once the process begins,  deserts claim more and more territory, displacing farms, wildlife and green areas and impoverishing local people by stealing their means of support. Reclaiming land that was once productive and verdant can be a huge uphill struggle. But groups around the world are combating the loss of land in many unique and successful ways.

The Land for Life Awards, sponsored by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, spotlights these human innovations. This week judges chose three projects as winners of the 2013 Land for Life Award.

Chosen from a slate of 16 semi-finalists, these projects show how people are using creative ideas and hard work to overcome harsh conditions and turn back desertification.

The 2013 winners:

First Place($40,000):

  • Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), a program that has brought sustainable land management to more than 200,000 hectares of common rangelands, forests and waterways in India. The project has benefited 1.7 million people living in more than 4,000 villages. The operating concept is that the  “commons” are shared by everyone, which means everyone is responsible for ensuring the viability of land and water and allshould share it’s bounties. To that end, FES helps communities set up ways to best govern and preserve natural resources.
land for life 2013  World Vision Australia

World Vision in Australia helps farmers reclaim the land.

Runners Up  ($30,000 each):

  • Consejo Civil Mexicano para la Silvicultura Sostenible (CCMSS) in Mexico, which is working with farmers in the Amanalco alle Bravo Basin in Central Mexico to withstand population and development pressures. CCMSS works with 1,500 small farmers to maintain the land for sustainable agriculture and forestry, helping the families maintain their way of life and assuring long life for the environment.
  • World Vision Australia, which has helped thousands of farmers manage their land by cultivatign buried root systems or “underground forests” that enrich damaged landscapes. World Vision trains the farmers in this technique, known as Farmer Managed Nature Regeneration (FMNR). Tony Rinaudo, who pioneered FMNR, has committed his life to this project and helped spread the program to 14 other countries, turning “man-made deserts into food bowls,” according to Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia.

The semi-finalists were from 13 countries – Australia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Portugal, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe — and though they didn’t receive the top award, they were recognized for their projects.

Semi-finalists included:

  •   Solar panel farming in India: A program by Abellon CleanEnergy provides landless farmers and women a place to grow vegetables under the shade of solar panels.The project makes use of water run-off from frequent panel cleanings.

    Land for Life -- Post harvest weed collection by women

    Harvesting food under solar panels in India.

  • A green wall in Indonesia: A project by Conservation International Indonesia planted a wall of 100,000 native trees along the border of two national parks to prevent soil erosion and protect water for 30 million consumers downstream in Greater Jakarta.
  • Composting in Ghana: DeCo! Ghana provides savanna farmers with organic fertilizer by collecting local fruit and vegetable waste, which is composted. This offers growers a low-cost alternative to government-subsidized chemical fertilizers.

See more at the UNCCD semi-finalists page.