Land Degradation Neutrality Impact Monitoring Methodology

As investments in nature are needed more than ever, and are increasingly gaining traction, the challenge is to identify environmental and social risks and to demonstrate positive impacts associated with investing in nature-based projects in a standardized and comparable manner. To help create a clear track record of projects that can be assessed on risk-return-impact profiles, a certain degree of standardization is needed, while maintaining scientific rigor.

The LDN TAF therefore supported the LDN Fund in developing a methodology for measuring and tracking progress on LDN impact at investment project level, directly tied to SDG target 15.3. This was done by partnering with Trends.Earth, an initiative by Conservation International, GlobalGeoHub, and in close consultation with the UNCCD scientific community. Building on the UNCCD’s LDN Scientific Conceptual Framework, the methodology looks at three sub-indicators: land cover, land productivity, and soil organic carbon (SOC).

Based on a one-out-all-out principle (each of the three LDN sub-indicators needs to showcase either a stabilization or improvement), a positive overall change indicates land increasing in productivity and health, and land degradation being reversed. Most indicators are measured using remotely sensed satellite imagery, complemented for selected cases by field-level soil sampling. The LDN TAF supports investees of the LDN Fund in setting an LDN baseline using this methodology, while building capacity with project developers to integrate continuous monitoring of LDN into their operations, and (if relevant) aligning this work with local government target setting units. This not only allows companies to report on progress and comply with environmental and social action plans, it also enables them to practice adaptive management, minimizing land degradation risk and optimizing positive environmental, social and financial returns resulting from restoring land.

The methodology, including the first two pilot studies, can be downloaded here:

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