Since the year 1995, country Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, organizations of the United Nations System, international and non-governmental organizations and other interested stakeholders have celebrated the World Day to Combat Desertification on 17th June of every year. This year’s event will be held in Beijing, China, hosted by the State Forestry Administration of China (SFA). The World Day to Combat Desertification will advocate for the importance of inclusive cooperation to restore and rehabilitate degraded land and contribute towards achieving the overall Sustainable Development Goals.
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has over the years celebrated this day by highlighting agroforestry successes in dryland management and soil conservation. Agroforestry is cited in the UN Convention to Combat Desertification as a potential win-win land use system in providing key functions in transforming lands and landscapes though the provisioning of multiple ecosystem services, including reducing land degradation and restoring degraded lands, while also generating production and income for land users.
Speaking at the launch of the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification on 16 August 2010[BR1] , Dr Tony Simons, the Director General of ICRAF, cited several projects where agroforestry had had a significant impact in restoring degraded lands. One of them is in Shinyanga in northern Tanzania where the landscape has been rehabilitated and tens of thousands of smallholders’ incomes boosted by as much as USD 500 per year. This followed their planting of woodlots along with grafted fruit orchards and fodder banks, and making use of nitrogen-fixing trees to increase fertility and crop yields.
With more land around the world facing increasing deterioration and degradation, ICRAF remains committed to investing more resources and mobilizing other actors for specific actions towards maintaining ecosystem health, restoring degraded landscapes and combating land degradation and desertification.