The head of the project: German S. Kust
The title of the project: The development of the novel concept of land degradation neutrality to assess the effectiveness of the approaches for sustainable land use and climate change adaptation
Key words: Land degradation neutrality, sustainable land management, desertification, climate change adaptation, carbon balance, terrestrial ecosystems
The project for the first time poses the complex task of developing the latest concept of a land degradation neutrality in order to assess and justify the effectiveness of methods and approaches for sustainable land management and climate change adaptation, which contributes to the effective participation and implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The concept of the "Land Degradation Neutrality" [LDN] in the last 2-3 years is being developed by the UNCCD, and is considered in the world science and practice as a scientific and practical platform for the effective use of land resources and environmental management, and for the adoption of appropriate political and economic decisions. The land degradation neutrality (LDN) is “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security remain stable or increase within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems” (UNCCD). Practically, LDN is seen as a tool for balancing land degradation and restoration / rehabilitation / remediation at the global, national, regional and local levels. In the scientific sense, the concept of LDN does not yet have a clear justification: for it there is no generally accepted conceptual apparatus, monitoring principles, indicators, and methods and methodological approaches. Data on global indicators contained in international systems for receiving, storing and processing information are also not verified for the territory of Russia. There are no ways to establish "baselines" for assessing the effectiveness of the use of tools using the concept of LDN. Finally, the ranges of applicability of the concept of LDN for lands of different purposes, located in different natural and socio-economic conditions, have not been determined. In addition to increasing attention to the problem of setting goals for LDN at the national level, its relevance to Russia is caused by a number of circumstances in recent years: a) abandonment of agricultural lands after the collapse of the USSR (especially those affected by irrational exploitation and desertification) and their active involvement in agricultural production in recent years, b) the land transfer to private ownership and transfer to use by persons with insufficient knowledge and skills, c) the traditional extensive use of soil biological potential of lands.
Due to the foregoing, the research objectives of this Project are also set.
The basic hypothesis to be tested in the proposed study is that LDN can be used as one of the main criteria for sustainable land management, and the achievement of LDN is considered as a characteristic of the adaptive ability of natural and natural-anthropogenic landscapes to climate change. Thus, the scientific novelty of the task is that for the first time the methodological basis of the concept of a land degradation neutrality will be applied to the study of sustainable land management and land use climate change adaptation, which will make it possible to propose specific indicators/ indices for assessing the effectiveness of decisions and actions for sustainable The use of land resources held at the national and local levels in the Russian Federation. Studies of adaptation capacity and indicators of sustainable land management not only in arid regions (covered by the UNCCD mandate), but also in forest systems, in turn, will make it possible to verify the applicability of the main approaches of the LDN concept to humid territories, and will be done for the first time in world practice.
Similar studies have already begun or will be organized in the near future in a number of countries. The incentive for this was the development of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (LDN Scientific Conceptual Framework, March 2017), in the preparation of which participated and members of the team. In this case, it is obvious that these studies will be conducted in the conditions of acute scientific competition and at the same time - international cooperation and the exchange of research results. The success of Russian research results will be a pledge of active domination and recognition of domestic approaches at the international level. The most important feature of the Russian approaches proposed in the project is that they will be realized not only for agriculture, but also for other sectors of the economy, in various natural and socio-economic conditions.
Within the project framework, along with the tasks described above, it is also planned to develop and adapt for Russia a conceptual apparatus in the field of land degradation neutrality (LDN), adaptation of land management to climate change and sustainable land management. This system of concepts will take into account both the existing international approaches recommended by UN organizations and the Russian national specifics, which is the diversity of natural and socio-economic conditions.
The expected results
As the main result, the scientific substantiation of the newest concept of the land degradation neutrality (LDN) and its application for achieving the goals of sustainable development of the Russian Federation is expected. This result will be achieved using the following types of model objects in the forest and steppe zones: managed forests, agricultural lands, natural-anthropogenic systems.
The concept of a land degradation neutrality (LDN) began to be developed after the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the summit on sustainable development in 2015, and scientific foundations began to form actively only after the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) developed the conceptual framework of the Scientific Conceptual Framework for LDN at the end of 2016. Only a few works by Russian scientists on the development of this concept are known (Kust, Andreeva, Cowie (2017), Kust, Andreeva (2016, 2017)), and they are at the world level, as they are carried out in close cooperation with the leading international expert group of the UNCCD on this problem (Science-Policy Interface - scientific and political interaction). Thus, the timely development of this concept in Russia will contribute to the close integration of domestic developments in the world scientific search. An essential feature of the proposed project is that, in contrast to the Conceptual Framework of the LDN developed by the UNCCD, it is intended to expand the application of this concept beyond the boundaries of arid, semi-arid and arid sub-humid areas covered by the UNCCD mandate for research in Russia. This approach is fundamentally new for this concept, and has not been implemented to date in world practice.
The basic hypothesis underlying the proposed Project is that LDN can be used as one of the main criteria for sustainable land management, and the achievement of LDN can be viewed as a characteristic of the adaptive ability of natural and natural-anthropogenic landscapes to climate change. In other words, the territory (in the chosen scale of assessment) can potentially be considered sustainable to degradation and adapted to climate change if the condition for achieving LDN is met for it.
The proof of this hypothesis will make it possible to use the planned system of indicators and indicators of sustainable land management indices for assessing climate change adaptation and the effectiveness of measures for sustainable land management in various sectors, which is expected to be demonstrated in the framework of this Project using the example of selected model objects with different types of land management, representing managed forests, agricultural lands, as well as natural-anthropogenic systems in the steppes and semi-deserts, including afforestation. Based on the system of indicators used and the description of selected models, the principles for selecting the most effective adaptive technologies will be formulated.
To solve this task, proposals on harmonization of existing methods for assessing land degradation, including social and economic ones, will be developed and scientifically substantiated on a single methodological platform for achieving land degradation neutrality.
In the course of the phased implementation of the Project, it is expected to obtain partial results having important scientific and practical significance. These include:
- Development of a conceptual apparatus in the field of LDN, adaptation of land management to climate change and land use.
- Development of carbon balance models for the studying objects. Forecast scenarios for changes in the microclimate and land management using retrospective cartographic data.
- Verification of data from global information networks for monitoring of LDN at selected model sites.
- Typology of impacts and major drivers of land degradation, direct and indirect causes of degradation; typology of risks, responses, degree and speed of degradation processes and phenomena in natural and natural-anthropogenic systems of selected model objects.
- Proposals for the integration of Russian national approaches, accounting and monitoring systems, and relevant information resources - with global initiatives to create a unified system of indicators for land degradation neutrality.
- Development of recommendations for establishing a "baseline" for establishing the objectives of the LDN on selected model sites, taking into account background monitoring data on adjacent protected natural areas.
Expected practical use.
Within the framework of the project it is supposed:
- Develop at least 3 training modules (on sustainable land management, carbon balance, climate change adaptation, land degradation neutrality) that will be included in the educational process at Lomonosov Moscow State University.
- Develop scientifically based approaches to the spatial planning of model facilities, taking into account the objectives of achieving a land degradation neutrality and climate change adaptation.
- This project will contribute to the objectives of justifying and preparing the National Strategy and Action Plan to Combat Desertification, achieving a land degradation neutrality and climate change adaptation (including regional action plans) of the Russian Federation. These strategic documents are stipulated by the RF commitments to achieve the Global Sustainable Development Goals for the period to 2030 and to participate in the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The results of the Project will be used within the framework of the Interagency Scientific-expert Council "Interagency Committee “Global Climate and Sustainable Land Management: Zero-Emission and Zero-Degradation of Soil in Russia (Agriculture and Forestry)", which is an expert unit of the Interagency Working Group under the Administration of the Russian Federation President on issues, related to climate change and sustainable development. The results will also be used in the preparation of proposals for the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation on the implementation of preparations for the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement by the Russian Federation, as well as in the preparation of territorial, sectoral and corporate strategies for sustainable land management and action plans to combat desertification.