Land, Plants, and Soil

men carrying plant with roots

Tafo Mihaavo is the national network of local communities in Madagascar practicing customary natural resource management. Established in 2012, Tafo Mihaavo has more than 600 members who work in ecosystem safeguarding and restoration across 22 regions. Tafo Mihaavo has developed strategies on community natural resource management to enhance the legal recognition of local community rights. Indigenous peoples and local communities are environmental stewards of many of the world’s biodiversity and cultural hotspots. With the territories and areas conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities accounting for approximately 32 per cent of ecologically intact global land, studies show that global biodiversity goals cannot be met without them.

group of people walking in the desert

Fifteen years ago, Africa’s leaders had a vision that would change the future of their continent. They imagined a thin but powerful green line strung between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic: a strip of trees 8,000 km long and 15 km wide. It would trace the Sahel, the dryland region sandwiched between the Sahara desert to the north and the savannah to the south. Today, this vision has been refined. The Great Green Wall (GGW) is now envisioned. IFAD is among the guardians of this vision.

girls and women walking along flooded land

Rich and healthy soils are the basis of all life on Earth. Yet up to 40 percent of the planet’s land is degraded, affecting half the world’s population. Especially at risk are people living in drylands – covering 45 percent of the Earth’s surface – which are prone to desertification and the devastating impacts of climate-related shocks such as disease, drought, flooding and wildfire. Around 12 million hectares of land are lost each year to degradation. UNDP and its partners are working towards a land degradation-neutral world, to support ecosystem functions and improve food security.

From above, shallow baskets full of argan nuts.

FAO’s new report, Wild Check: Assessing risks and opportunities of trade in wild plant ingredients, helps us better understand and support the responsible sourcing of wild-harvested plants. 

The United Nations designated 12 May the International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development. The Day is a key legacy of the International Year of Plant Health 2020.

indigenous women

Imataca is a vast tropical forest in southeast Venezuela spanning 38,000 square kilometers. Rich in biodiversity, the forest is home to thousands of plant and animal species. Decades of illegal logging and mining have led to deforestation and loss of wildlife. The Karina indigenous people living in the forest are working hard to change this. Through a women-led initiative, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), they’re ensuring the forests of Imataca are now protected for generations to come.

Producers: Marina Sánchez Castelo, Charlotta Lomas, Anais Hotin.
Presenter: Charlotta Lomas, FAO.
Photo credit: ©Jesús Contreras/FAO.

forest wetlands

Located in the Escuintla district on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast, the wetlands around Sipacate-Naranjo are treasured conservation areas. Although Sipacate-Naranjo represents a great wealth of biodiversity and natural value, a large percentage of the local population (≈20,000 people) - indigenous and local communities living adjacent to the park – lives close to the poverty line, in need of economic opportunities to survive. Given the great potential of Sipacate-Naranjo, the UNDP-implemented, Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (SGP) supported the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on an ecotourism project to build the capacities of the communities of Sipacate-Naranjo for activities that simultaneously conserve nature and contribute to the local economy.

Plant coming out of a dry crack of land

FAO has launched the Global Map of Salt-Affected Soils. Most of them can be found in naturally arid or semi-arid environments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The map allows experts to identify where sustainable soil management practices should be adopted to prevent salinization.

salt-affected soil

FAO has launched the Global Map of Salt-Affected Soils, a key tool for halting salinization and boosting productivity. The map estimates that there are more than 833 million hectares of salt-affected soils around the globe (8.7% of the planet). Most of them can be found in naturally arid or semi-arid environments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, the map also shows that 20 to 50 percent of irrigated soils in all continents are too salty, meaning over 1.5 billion people worldwide face significant challenges in growing food due to soil degradation.

women in the Amazon

The Colombian Amazon faces a high rate of forest loss. Historically, indigenous women in the Amazon have been profoundly connected to the production of food and the cultivation of medicinal plants. However, men are frequently still the decision makers on land use and management. Guardians of the Amazon is an alliance that involves roughly 2,500 indigenous women in southeast Colombia. Its work is an important step towards strengthening and giving visibility to the role of indigenous women as crucial custodians of the forests in the Colombian Amazon.

people walking among giant trees

This year, 5 June, World Environment Day, marks the official launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a 10-year push to halt and reverse the  decline of the natural world. Ecosystems can be large, like a forest, or small, like a pond. Many are crucial to human societies, providing people with water, food, building materials and a host of other essentials. But in recent decades, humanity’s hunger for resources has pushed many ecosystems to the breaking point. Here are the eight main types of ecosystem and some of the things that can be done to revive them.

A man squatting close to the earth holds out earthworms in his hand

Earthworms are our ecosystem’s unsung superheroes

women and youths with hard hats standing among rocks

UNESCO’s Executive Board has approved the designation of eight new UNESCO Global Geoparks, which brings the number of sites participating in the Global Geoparks Network to 169 in 44 countries. UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. The newly designated UNESCO Global Geoparks are in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy and Poland.


The rangers of the Mt. Kenya Trust work tirelessly to protect the area's forests and wildlife from illegal activities such as logging and poaching. Their mission is to protect this incredible ecosystem and educate local communities about the benefits of conserving the forests of Mt. Kenya. Watch this film, shot by Joan Poggio for the United Nations Environment Programme Wild for Life campaign and explore the immersive journey on forests to discover how these precious ecosystems support humans and wildlife every day.

Restoring forests helps build a healthier world for ourselves and for future generations. By replanting and managing forests sustainably, we can help preserve our planet’s biodiversity and combat climate change while fostering economic activity that creates jobs and improves lives. As we enter the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), join us in celebrating the International Day of Forests on 21 March.