There is a shopping list of [hundreds of] indicators of land management (SciDevNet)

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Land management is ‘drowning in a sea of data’

Speed read

  • There are too many indicators for collecting data on effective land use
  • Land management will likely be a priority for the Sustainable Development Goals
  • It is important to agree on methods to gather data on land management planning

Forests, deserts and other habitats are suffering while decision makers are busy sifting through the myriad of indicators for effective land management — and different methods for collecting this sea of data only dilute the impact that research has on policy, a meeting heard. “When it comes to land management planning, we don’t have a system and, because of that, we don’t manage this resource well,” said Tony Simons, director-general of the World Agroforestry Centre, a research centre headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. He spoke at the International Alliance of Research Universities’ Sustainability Science Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 23 October. “We currently have a shopping list of [hundreds of] indicators. How are we meant to know which ones are important?” he said. Land management is likely to play a central role in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of goals currently under consideration by the UN, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire next year. A ‘zero draft’ compiled earlier this year with 17 tentative SDG topics suggested that reducing land degradation, desertification and deforestation must be priorities.

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Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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