Land degradation leads to a significant reduction of the productive capacity of land. Human activities contributing to land degradation include unsustainable agricultural land use, poor soil and water management practices, deforestation, removal of natural vegetation, frequent use of heavy machinery,overgrazing, improper crop rotation and poor irrigation practices. Natural disasters, including drought,floods and landslides also contribute.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has supported land degradation mitigation projects for many years, initially as linkage activities to the focal areas of biodiversity, international waters and climate change. The land degradation component of many of these projects was not strong since the projects were often based on focal area activities rather than the land degradation linkage activities.
In response, the Second Assembly of the GEF designated land degradation, primarily desertification and deforestation, as a new focal area as a means to support the implementation of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in October 2002.
The GEF Council operationalized the above decision by approving a specific framework for intervention on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in May 2003.In GEF 3 Land degradation fell under two Operational Programmes (OP), which describe the relevant aspect of the focal area and include eligibility criteria (available below). The Multifocal OP has a land degradation component, and the Sustainable Land Management OP is the newest one arising out of the GEF Assembly's approval of this focal area.
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