New ISO standard to combat land degradation

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Our consumption of the earth’s natural reserves has doubled in the last 30 years and a third of the planet’s land is now severely degraded. There is an urgent need to find solutions for land management policy, planning and practices. 

A new ISO standard will help land managers at global and national scales put in place best practices to combat land degradation. The recently published ISO 14055-1:2017, Environmental management – Guidelines for establishing good practices for combatting land degradation and desertification – Part 1: Good practices framework, provides guidelines for developing good practices to combat land degradation and desertification in arid and non-arid regions.

The standard refers to actions or interventions undertaken with the purpose of preventing or minimizing land degradation or, where land is already degraded, aiding its recovery to improve productivity and ecosystem health.

Because managing our land-based capital impacts directly on human livelihood and health, the standard covers the various topics that must be considered when establishing good practices, such as the respect for human rights, forest management and agricultural practices, climate conditions and industrial activities, among others.

ISO 14055-1 will serve as a useful tool for land managers, land users, technical experts, and private and public organizations, as well as for policy makers involved in the management of land resources for ecological, productivity, economic or social purposes. It advocates a fundamental shift in behaviour towards a more sustainable use of land and is intended to complement and support the activities of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

ISO 14055-1 and its complement, the future ISO/TR 14055-2, which provides regional applications of the principles in Part 1, will help to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15 for the protection, restoration and sustainable management of land-based ecosystems. In doing so, we can hope to reach a “land-degradation-neutral world” by the year 2030.

Sandrine Tranchard
Sandrine Tranchard

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