WOCAT provides tools that allow specialists in sustainable land management (SLM) to identify fields and needs of action, share their knowledge in land management, search for appropriate SLM technologies, and support them in making decisions in the field and at the planning level and in upscaling identified best practices. Approaches consist of everything that is needed to successfully implement technologies, including socio-economic and political issues.
Soil degradation results in a loss of crop production and/or an increase in production costs. As a result, there is a direct link between soil degradation and food security, especially in developing countries. Problems are compounded by climate change, population growth and various socioeconomic and political factors. The challenge is to prevent degradation and its adverse effects on soil functions and ecosystem services, including crop production, while simultaneously improving livelihoods.
The key to doing this lies in sustainable land management (SLM).
WOCAT is not a project but an established global network of Soil and Water Conservation specialists, dedicated to SLM. The overall goal of WOCAT is to unite efforts in knowledge management and decision support for upscaling SLM among all stakeholders, including national governmental and non-governmental institutions and international and regional organizations. WOCAT provides tools that allow SLM specialists to identify fields and needs of action, share their knowledge in land management, search for appropriate SLM technologies, and that support them in making decisions in the field and at the planning level and in upscaling identified best practices. Approaches consist of everything that is needed to successfully implement technologies, including socio-economic and political issues.
WOCAT maintains internet databases of technologies and approaches, that are freely available to all stakeholders around the world. WOCAT also includes a mapping tool that allows to map both current degradation status and current management efforts, thus allowing selection of areas where action is needed most.
Since 2007, WOCAT has been used by Wageningen Environmental Research in various projects, including the DESIRE, CASCADE, WAHARA and RECARE projects. In these projects the WOCAT questionnaires have been integrated in a stakeholder-driven selection procedure for SLM technologies. This approach results in a selection of technologies that is not only effective from a bio-physical point of view, but that also fits in to the local socioeconomic and political background, and that is supported by the stakeholders. This increases the chance of adoption of technologies, both by stakeholders involved in the projects, and by their colleagues.
Various kinds of output have been generated. First, numerous technologies have been tested in the field, and their effectiveness has been demonstrated with relation to both soil degradation prevention and crop yield improvement. Second, the stakeholder approach followed has often enhanced collaboration between local stakeholders, and has empowered them in their contacts with decision makers. Third, data have been made available worldwide through the internet, and through the book ‘DESIRE for Greener Land’.
Further application possibilities
Further development of WOCAT databases and information technology will make the valuable knowledge in the databases more readily available and might help provide more targeted advice on which technologies could be applied.