Building block 3 – Setting LDN targets & measures
“Governmental high-level note of measures to achieve the national LDN targets”
The Eritrean Government has undertaken proper utilization and protection of the land resources as central to agricultural development and to achieve multiple environmental and societal benefits that help in addressing crucial issues such as food security, income equality, poverty, and resource availability.
The Government of Eritrea is also investing a lot of its domestic resources in agriculture and SLM-related activities. Notably, the Government is using social mobilization as an innovative approach to address one of its most compelling developmental challenges through Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices. This is engendering positive behavioural changes and the social mobilization strategy is proving to be an excellent way to increase and galvanize public support for the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
There is general agreement that the realization of land degradation neutrality target should be coupled with the implementation of specific key policy and technical measures through which desired gains will balance any expected losses. At the same time, LDN measures, addressing policy or technical issues that would be implemented in the form of programmes or projects, should be tailored to a specific area at a given geographical and temporal scale.
2. Brief narrative on the motivations for the governmental to commit to LDN
The Eritrean Government is committed to LDN as it is viewed in relation to the importance of land based natural resources to the economic development of Eritrea, which will ensure sound foundation for sustainable social economic development. For example:
• Agriculture has tremendous potential to alleviate poverty and generate employment especially among Eritrea’s poorest people. The switch to sustainable agriculture, agroforestry and other sustainable land uses reinforces this potential as many of these low-impact farming practices tend to have higher labor requirements and create more direct jobs per unit of output than industrial agriculture.
• Land-related activities are also relevant in the broader context of rural development. Examples of poverty reducing and job generating sectors are those related to sustainable forest management, sustainable tourism and clean energy production as well as ecosystem restoration.
• Lessons learned in soil and water conservation in Eritrea has shown that sustainable, resource-conserving, and low-external input techniques can successfully be employed to bring degraded land back into production, improve yields and enhance resilience.
• Smart, coordinated land and water management provides a cost-effective, long-term solution to water scarcity, drought and pollution. Many ecological farming practices are available that create soils rich in organic matter with better capacity to conserve water in the root zone and increase water use efficiency.
• Integrated land management approaches offer various options for sustainable fuel wood and charcoal sourcing so as to protect energy security especially for the rural poor.
• There are many opportunities for the land use sector to actively reduce emissions and sequester carbon in the short to medium term, using sustainable land management practices such as conservation tillage, combined organic/inorganic fertilizer application or agroforestry and other sustainable practices, which could potentially be supported by innovative financing.
• There are also financial opportunities that can influence LDN achievement, which can be accessed through partnerships with international partners, national and international non-governmental stakeholders as well as the Private sector.
3. Brief summary of the national LDN baseline, including the current status of land degradation, based on the LDN indicators
The three UNCCD progress indicators namely land cover; land productivity and the carbon stocks above and below ground were used to assess the current status of land degradation. Comparison of the land cover map of the two epochs (2000 and 2010) shows clearly that there were no net changes at a regional level in Eritrea, however it is believed that changes have happened at local level based on the fact that the Government of Eritrea and local communities have been implementing various land conservation and environmental recovery activities.
Based on the three indicators it is clear that forest areas account for 129.33 sq km during 2000 and 2010, with no net loss during the period; however 9 sq km area of the ‘remaining forest’ has declining net land productivity. In addition 8% of the Eritrean land mass has declining trend of land productivity, and 16% show early signs of land productivity decline, while 12% of the land covers are stable but stressed. The total amount of the land cover whose land productivity is declining forms 36% and are primarily located in the western lowlands between Gash and Setit Rivers, and the southern part of Eritrea, where there is more intense farming. In addition the eastern escarpment and areas along the coastal are experiencing declining and early signs of declining of productivity. The main reason for the decline of productivity is intense erosion along the escarpment due to deforestation and limited farming activities mainly in the northeastern part of the Eritrean escarpment.
Trends in Net LPD according to combinations of land use/cover in 2000 and 2010, show that 2.46% of areas (2996 sq km), which are formed of ‘shrubs, grasslands, and sparsely vegetated’ areas indicate declined land productivity, while 3.16% show early sign of decreasing land productivity representing ~ 3853 sq km.
In the absence of a national SOC database, it was recommended to use the SOC 0-30 cm stock product derived from SoilGrids250m as a stand-in for baseline 2000 SOC stock. Based on this data a total SOC of 47.1 tons/ha has been estimated for the ‘forest ’area cover, and 28.3 tons/ha has been estimated for the ‘shrubs, grasslands, and sparsely vegetated area cover’, while 42.0 tons/ha has been estimated for the ‘cropland’. The average national soil carbon stock is estimated to be 30.2 tons/ha.
The LDN baseline study has been technically validated by relevant stakeholders during a national workshop in 2017.
4. Brief summary of the LDN targets set and associated measures identified, with proposed timeline
LDN Targets have been set for Eritrea and has been endorsed by policy maker at the highest possible level.
Brief summary of the major target highlight of LDN at the national and sub-national level:
LDN at the national scale
• LDN is achieved by 2030 as compared to 2015 (no net loss)
• LDN is achieved by 2030 as compared to 2015 and an additional 10 % of the national territory has improved (net gain)
• LDN (improved Adhanet stoves dissemination) is achieved by 2021 as compared to 2015.
LDN at the sub-national scale
• LDN is achieved in Maekel province by 2030 as compared to 2015 (no net loss)
• LDN is achieved in Debub province by 2030 as compared to 2015 (no net loss) and an additional 27% of the province has improved (net gain)
• LDN is achieved in Gash Barka province by 2030 as compared to 2015 (no net loss) and an additional 12% of the province has improved (net gain)
• LDN is achieved in Anseba province by 2030 as compared to 2015 (no net loss)
• LDN is achieved in Northern Red Sea (NRS) province by 2030 as compared to 2015 (no net loss) and an additional 10% of the province has improved (net gain)
• LDN is achieved in Southern Red Sea (SRS) province by 2030 as compared to 2015 (no net loss) and an additional 5% of the province has improved (net gain).
Specific targets to avoid, minimize and reverse land degradation
• Improve productivity of 10,954 sq km of cropland by 2030.
• Improve SOC stocks of 17,803 sq km in cropland and grasslands by 2030 as compared to 2015.
• Rehabilitate 17,853 sq kms of degraded and abandoned land for crop production by 2030
Halt the conversion of forests and wetlands to other land cover classes by 2025. Restore 79 sq km of indigenous forest land.
• Increase forest cover by 10% by 2030 as compared to 2015.
• Reduce the rate of top soil loss (soil erosion) by 20% by 2030 as compared to 2015 estimate.
• Increase soil organic carbon by 10 t/ha in cropland achieved through SLM practices.
5. Outline of policy measures to integrate LDN into selected national priorities, such as sustainable development and poverty reduction
Policy measures adopted by the Government of Eritrea include the ratification of the three most important environmental conventions namely: the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Convection on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), thereby confirming its strong commitment to environmental issues. It has also elaborated national strategies towards meeting its obligations under those conventions such as the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, the National Biodiversity Strategy, the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), the National Action Programme (NAP) and the National Agricultural Development Strategy and Policy document, Poverty Reduction and Food Security strategic documents also provide strategic and policy issues on how to develop and manage agriculture without impacting adversely the environment. All these have targets on land use that are relevant to LDN.
The Ministers responsible for Land, Water Resources and Environment, and the Ministry of Agriculture under which the UNCCD Focal Points reside as well as the Ministry of Local Government provide political support and influence ministries to support LDN initiatives. However at national policy and planning level the Ministry of Finance, and National Development are responsible in ensuring that SDGs and LDN are mainstreamed in the national development planning framework and sectoral policies and programmes.
The various national and sectoral policies and the various donor cooperation frameworks also provide common grounds for enhancing leveraging of resources for maximum impact.
7. Call to other stakeholders, including the private sector, to contribute to the country efforts to achieve LDN
It is widely recognized that land degradation is a serious and enormous problem that governments alone cannot tackle. Consequently strong technical and financial support from both the government and international partners is required if the LDN target setting and implementation is going to succeed.
Hence there are a number of ‘Investment Programmes and Initiatives’ directly related to SLM/DLN, which are supported by different international development partners such as the UNDP, FAO, EU, IFAD, GEF, GM and ADB and others. However innovative financing such as the Climate change adaptation and mitigation financing (multilateral and bilateral), Drylands Fund, Incentives for adoption and investment in SLM practices for income generation; Financial (eco-tourism, private and community wood lots, carbon trading), and the Private sector such as Mining Companies, Agribusiness and Farmers and Service givers will also be important for the LDN TSP. Public private partnerships and investment by Diaspora are also important source of finance.
In order to use available resources more efficiently it is also recommended that a coordination mechanism is put in place to ensure better flow of information and coordination of projects and funding for SLM/LDN, which involves stakeholders such as ministries, technical institutions, CSOs and the donor group. It is also helpful to promote mechanisms that enable those who benefit from environmental services to pay for them and also provide economic incentives to encourage farmers and other land users to adopt more SLM / LDN practices and invest in environmentally friendly technologies. Incentive and market based mechanisms can be used to facilitate such incentives and compensations to encourage SLM / LDN and the restoration of degraded land.