Definitions of terms that are relevant to WOCAT's activities.



Adjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment. (MEA 2005)

Adaptation to land degradation

Adaptation to land degradation is necessary when rehabilitation or restoration of the original state of the land is no longer possible or requires resources beyond the means of land users. The state of land degradation is thus “accepted” and land management is adapted to the degradation. Examples include adapting to soil sa-linity by introducing salt-tolerant plants, or climate change adaptation.

Adaptive capacity

The ability of systems, institutions, humans, and other organisms to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to respond to consequences. (IPCC 2014)


Planting of forests on land that historically had no forests. (MEA 2005)


A term used to describe biodiversity associated with the cultivation of crops and rearing of animals. There are three elements to agrobiodiversity: (a) the overall range of different crops and animals, (b) the diversity of crops and animals within a particular farming system, and (c) the overall biodiversity of both cultivated and natural species within a farming system. Sustainable land management can help maintain and build up levels of biodiversity in all ecosystems.


Integrates the use of woody perennials with agricultural crops and/ or animals for a variety of benefits and services, including better use of soil and water re-sources; multiple fuel, fodder, and food products; and habitat for associated species.

Agroforestry system

Land use system in which trees are used for forest products (e.g. timber, pulp, fruits, rubber, syrup, and browse) combined with agricultural crops including forage crops and/ or animal production. (Allen et al. 2011)


Incorporates agricultural crops, potentially including forage crops and livestock production, where trees may produce timber, pulp, fruits, rubber, syrup, or browse for grazing animals. (Allen et al. 2011)

Apiculture/ Pisciculture/ Poultry/ Cuniculture/ Sericulture

Allow food production and agricultural products requiring small surfaces of the land.

Area closure

Enclosing and protecting an area of degraded land from human use and animal interference to permit natural rehabilitation, enhanced by additional vegetative and structural conservation measures.


Baseline information

Information about an area or people before a project intervention, used for comparison or control.


Diversity among and within plant and animal species in an environment ( Biodiversity includes diversity within species, between species, and between ecosystems. (MEA 2005)

Bottom-up approach

Where land users are given a primary role in participatory decision-making processes.


Animals feeding from trees and shrubs (e.g. camels, goats).

Bunds / banks

Linear earthen, stone, or mixed-material embankments or walls positioned across the slope of the land, following the contour as closely as possible. They are built to control soil erosion, promote water retention, and increase crop production.

Burning (prescribed)

Setting fire to pasture/ rangeland to burn off unpalatable dry grass, and to control bush invasion in some circumstances. Also to clear the land for planting, and to control crop pests, diseases, and weeds.


Capacity building

A process of strengthening or developing human resources and skills, institutions, organizations, or networks (e.g. through training, etc.). Also referred to as capacity development or capacity enhancement. (MEA 2005)

Capital value (of an ecosystem)

The present value of the stream of ecosystem services that an ecosystem will generate under a particular management or institutional regime. (MEA 2005)

Carbon sequestration

The process of increasing the carbon content of a reservoir (e.g. oceans, forests, or soils) by extracting CO2 from the atmosphere through physical or biological processes (e.g. photosynthesis). (MEA 2005;

Cash crop

An agricultural crop that is grown for sale to return a profit, rather than for subsistence.

Climate change adaptation (CCA)

The process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects. (IPCC 2014)

Climate change mitigation (CCM)

Efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing to more sustainable management practices or consumer behaviour. (

Climate change resilience

The capacity of social, economic, and environmental systems to cope with a haz-ardous event or trend or disturbance, responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain their essential function, identity, and structure, while also maintaining the capacity for adaptation, learning, and transformation. (IPCC 2014, building on the definition used in Arctic Council 2013)

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA)

Agricultural practices that sustainably increase productivity and income of farm households, adapting and building resilience of the agricultural system to climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and/ or sequestering carbon.

Communal land

Land managed by a community of land users, in which land is subject to community and agreed management rules.

Contour cultivation (ridging, tillage etc.)

Farming operation (e.g. ridging, ploughing, and planting) carried out along the contour line.

Contour line

A line (as on a map) connecting the points on a land surface that have the same elevation.

Cost-benefit analysis

A technique designed to determine the feasibility of an intervention, project, or plan by quantifying its costs and benefits. (MEA 2005)

Cost-efectiveness analysis

Analysis to identify the least-cost option that meets a particular goal. (MEA 2005)

Cover crop/ cropping

A crop planted primarily to prevent soil erosion, provide humus (soil structure, soil fertility, water holding capacity), prevent diseases, and improve biodiversity in an agroecosystem (Lu et al. 2000). Cover crops are of interest in sustainable agriculture, and would usually be annual legumes planted between perennials, or in the period between seasons for annual crops.

Cropping system

Crops and crop sequences and the management techniques used on a particular field over a period of years. (Blanco 2010)

Cross-slope barriers

Constructed on sloping lands along the contour in the form of earth or soil bunds, stone lines, or vegetative strips, etc. for reducing run-off velocity and soil erosion.

Cross-slope measure

Is the Sustainable Management, Conservation and Restoration of Ecosystem to Reduce Disaster Risk and Safeguard the Direct and Indirect Benefits, People Obtain from the Ecosystems.



Blockage of watercourse or excavation of low spot of land to collect water for various purposes.


Person whose decisions, and the actions that follow from these decisions, can influence a condition, process, or issue under consideration. (MEA 2005)


Conversion of forest to non-forest. (MEA 2005)

Denuded land

Land where vegetation cover has been significantly or completely removed (often by a combination of natural and human-accelerated factors).


Land degradation in drylands resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. (MEA 2005)

Desert land

Land on which vegetation is sparse or absent, characterized by an arid climate. Deserts may be classified as hot or cold deserts, depending on latitude and elevation. (Allen et al. 2011)

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) aims, through prevention, to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards including earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, and cyclones.

Diversion/ drainage ditch

A waterway to drain and convey water. A ditch, normally laid out at a slight gradient at the top of a plot of land, intended to intercept and divert concentrated run-off.

Downstream effects

Impact of erosion or conservation/ SLM measures at the lower part of the catchment.


Any natural or human-induced factor that directly or indirectly causes a change in an ecosystem. (MEA 2005)

Drylands/ Dryland systems

Dryland systems are ecosystems characterized by a lack of water. They include cultivated lands, scrublands, shrublands, grasslands, savannahs, semi-deserts and true deserts. The lack of water constrains the production of crops, forage, wood, and other ecosystem services. Four dryland subtypes are widely recognized: dry sub-humid, semiarid, arid, and hyperarid, showing an increasing level of aridity or moisture deficit. (


Early planting

Planting at the beginning of (or in anticipation of) the start of the rains, to make best use of limited rainfall.


A dynamic complex of plant, animal, and microorganism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit. (MEA 2005)

Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR)

The sustainable management, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems with the aim of enabling these ecosystems to provide services that mitigate hazards, reduce vulnerability, and increase livelihood resilience.

Ecosystem function (ESF)

An intrinsic characteristic of an ecosystem related to the set of conditions and processes through which an ecosystem maintains its integrity (such as primary productivity, food chain, biochemical cycles). Functions include such processes as decomposition, production, nutrient cycling, and fluxes of nutrients and energy. (MEA 2005, Liniger et al. 2017)

Ecosystem services (ESS)

The benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These services are categorized into (a) provisioning services such as food and water, (b) regulating services such as flood and disease control, (c) cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits, and (d) supporting services, such as nutrient cycling, that maintain the conditions of life on Earth. (MEA 2005, Liniger et al. 2017)

Enabling conditions

Critical preconditions for success of responses, including political, institutional, social, economic, and ecological factors. (MEA 2005)

Endangered species

Species that face a very high risk of extinction in the wild. (MEA 2005)

Energy efficiency technologies

Technologies that reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services (e.g. for cooking and heating), thus decreasing the demand for fuel (fossil, wood).

Extension worker

Specialists from various disciplines, usually belonging to the advisory service of the government, who work with land users to provide education, capacity building, and access to knowledge.


Food crop

An edible crop grown entirely (or mainly) for human consumption.

Food security

When all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The term “food security” can be applied to families, communities, or nations. Food security implies guaranteed, regular access to nutritious food that delivers a balanced diet at an affordable price. Four FAO indicators of food security are: (i) availability, (ii) access, (iii) utilization, and (iv) stability. (

Forage (n.)

Plant material that livestock graze on or that is cut and fed to them. (Allen et al. 2011)

Forest/ forest systems

Systems in which trees are the predominant life forms. Forests are areas that are dominated by trees (perennial woody plants taller than 5 m at maturity), where the tree crown cover exceeds 10%, and where the area is more than 0.5 hectares. The canopy cover of ‘‘open forests’’ is between 10% and 40%, and greater than 40% for ‘‘closed forests’’. ‘‘Fragmented forests’’ refer to mosaics of forest patches and non-forest land. (MEA 2005)


Land on which the vegetation is dominated by trees or, if trees are lacking, bears evidence of former forest and has not been converted to other vegetation or land use. (Allen et al. 2011)

Forest plantation management

Plantation forests comprise even-aged monocultures and are established primarily for wood and fibre production. They are usually intensively managed and have relatively high growth rates and productivity.


Geographic information system (GIS)

A computerized system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present spatial or geographic data through geographical referencing. (MEA 2005)

Global environmental benefits (GEB)

Benefits from land and water conservation activities that, while yielding local gains, also provide benefits at a global, or at least regional, level.


The increasing integration of economies and societies around the world, particularly through trade, financial flows, and the transfer of culture and technology. (MEA 2005)


The process of regulating human behaviour in accordance with shared objectives. The term includes both governmental and non-governmental mechanisms. (MEA 2005)


Land where grass or grass-like vegetation grows and is the dominant form of plant life.


The feeding of herbivores (cattle, sheep, goats, horses) on plants such as grasses.

Grazing land management

The grazing of animals on natural or semi-natural grassland, grassland with trees, and/ or open woodlands.

Grazing livestock density index

Measures the stock of grazing animals (cattle, sheep, goats, and horses) per fodder area (consisting of fodder crops grown on arable land as well as permanent grassland). It is the ratio of the number of livestock units (LSUs) (converted from the number of animals using standard coefficients) per hectare of fodder area. Through manure production, livestock can contribute to climate change (greenhouse gas emissions) and nutrient leaching into water and air. However, depending on farmer practices, a higher grazing livestock index does not necessarily mean environmental degradation. (

Grazing management

Management intensity of grassland that can range from intensive to extensive. Extensive grazing management uses relatively large land areas per animal and a relatively low level of labour, resources, or capital. Intensive grazing management uses relatively high levels of labour, resources, or capital to increase production per unit area or per animal, through a relative increase in stocking rates, grazing pressure, and forage utilization. (Allen et al. 2011)

Grazing management practices/ system

System of managing livestock with respect to grazing land (e.g. zero, rotational, continuous grazing systems).

Grazing system

A defined, integrated combination of soil, plant, animal, social, and economic features, stocking (grazing) method(s) and management objectives designed to achieve specific results or goals (e.g. nomadic, semi-sedentary, transhumance, sedentary). (Allen et al. 2011)

Green economy

An economy that aims at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment. (UNEP 2011)

Green manure

A crop, such as clover and other nitrogen-fixing plants, ploughed under to enrich the soil, improving organic matter content and soil fertility.

Groundwater management

Involves securing the recharge of groundwater reserves and protecting them from pollution, over-exploitation/ overuse, and rising groundwater levels that would otherwise lead to salinization.

Gully erosion

The removal of soil along drainage lines by concentrated surface water run-off.


Home gardens

Also called backyard or kitchen gardens, home gardens are a traditional multifunctional farming system applied on a small area of land around the family home. They have the potential to supply most of the non-staple foods (including vegetables, fruits, herbs, animals, and fish). They also provide a space for recreation, leisure, and relaxation.


Improved ground/ vegetation cover

Any measure that aims to improve the ground cover, be it by dead material/ mulch or vegetation.

Improved plant varieties/ animal breeds

Refers to the development of new plant varieties or animal breeds that offer benefits such as improved production, resistance to pests and diseases, or drought tolerance, in response to changing environmental conditions and land users’ needs.


Customary practice, either traditional/ long established or more recent.

Indigenous (or local) knowledge

The knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society.


Resources put into a system: human, financial, energy, seeds, fertilizers, etc.

Integrated crop–livestock management

Optimizes the uses of crop and livestock resources through interaction and creation of synergies.

Integrated pest and disease management

A process to solve pest and disease problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. Any practice that attempts to capitalize on natural processes that reduce pest abundance.

Integrated soil fertility management (ISFM)

Aims at managing soil by combining different methods of soil-fertility amendment together with soil and water conservation. ISFM is based on three principles: maximizing the use of organic sources of fertilizer (e.g. manure and compost application, nitrogen-fixing green manure and cover crops); minimizing the loss of nutrients; and judiciously using inorganic fertilizer according to needs and economic availability.


The mixed cultivation of two or more crops in the same field.

Irrigation management

Aims to achieve higher water use efficiency through more efficient water collection and abstraction, water storage, distribution, and water application.


Knowledge management

The process of capturing, managing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.


Land cover

The physical coverage of land, usually expressed in terms of vegetation cover (natural or planted) or lack of it. Related to, but not synonymous with, land use. (MEA 2005)

Land degradation

Degradation of land resources (including soils, water, vegetation, and animals) leading to a reduction in the capacity of the land to provide ecosystem goods and services and assure its functions over a period of time for the beneficiaries of these. 

Land degradation types are: soil erosion by water, soil erosion by wind, chemical soil deterioration, physical soil deterioration, biological degradation, water degradation.

Land degradation neutrality

The maintenance and increase in the amount of healthy and productive land resources, in line with national development priorities.

Land management

Land management is the process of managing the use and development of land resources for production and conservation purposes.


An area of land that contains a mosaic of ecosystems, including human-dominated ecosystems. (MEA 2005)

Landscape Approaches

Dealing with large-scale processes in an integrated and multidisciplinary manner, combining natural resource management with environmental and livelihood considerations. (FAO, from

Landscape unit/ land system unit

A portion of relatively homogenous land cover. (MEA 2005)

Land tenure / property rights

Land tenure refers to the arrangement or right that allows a person or a community to use specific pieces of land and associated resources (e.g. water, trees, etc.) in a certain period of time and for particular purposes.

Land use

Human activities, which are directly related to the land, making use of its resources, or having an impact upon it. A given land use may take place on one or more than one piece of land, and several land uses may occur on the same piece of land. (De Bie et al. 1996)

Land use rights

Rights conferred on an individual (or group) to use and access the land. Can be open access (free for all), communal/ organized (subject to community-agreed management rules), leased (right to use land for a limited period of time against payment/ contract), or individual (right of use pertains to a single user).


The process whereby an owner of land allows another party to use it, for a fixed period of time, for a given fee (rent).


Temporary pastureland/ grassland that is integrated in a crop rotation, as opposed to permanent pasture. (Allen et al. 2011)


Domesticated animals raised for agricultural purpose to produce commodities such as food, fibre, and labour.

Livestock management

Involves proper feed rations, correct dosages of medicine, intelligent breeding practices, adequate living conditions and many others that go into properly and efficiently producing livestock.

Livestock management practices

Practices that are used throughout livestock production such as artificial insemination, rotational grazing, castration, weening, supplementing rations, and administering medicine.

Livestock stocking methods

Method that manages how, when, what, and how much the animals graze (e.g. alternate, rotational, continuous, or mixed stocking). (Allen et al. 2011)

Livestock units (LU/LSUs)/ Tropical live-stock unit (TLU)

LU is a reference unit, which facilitates the aggregation of livestock from various species and age as per convention, via the use of specific coefficients established initially on the basis of the nutritional or feed requirement of each type of animal. The reference unit used for the calculation of livestock units (=1 LSU) is the grazing equivalent of one adult dairy cow producing 3,000 kg of milk annually, without additional concentrated foodstuffs ( TLUs are used to provide an equivalent estimate of livestock biomass. One TLU is equivalent to 250 kg, where one bovine is equivalent to 1 TLU, and a sheep or a goat to 0.1 TLU (


Minimal soil disturbance

Refers to no-tillage or low soil disturbance only in small strips and/ or shallow depth and direct seeding.

Minimum tillage

A system whereby crops are planted into the soil with only a light, shallow, and non-inversion tillage beforehand.

Mixed land

Mixture of land use types within the same land unit, e.g. agroforestry, agro-pastoralism, silvo-pastoralism.

Mixed rainfed-irrigated land use

The application of a limited amount of water to the crop when rainfall fails to provide sufficient water for plant growth, to increase and stabilize yield; the additional water alone is inadequate for crop production.

Mountain system

High-altitude (> 2,500 m) areas and steep mid-altitude areas (1000 m at the equator, decreasing to sea level where alpine life zones meet polar life zones at high latitudes), excluding large plateaus. (MEA 2005)


Spreading of organic (or other) materials on the surface of the soil around crops to reduce moisture loss, reduce erosion, inhibit weed growth, etc.


Natural and semi-natural forest management

Encompasses administrative, legal, technical, economic, social, and environmental aspects of the conservation and use of forests.

Nutrient cycling

The processes by which elements are extracted from their mineral, aquatic, or atmospheric sources or recycled from their organic forms, converting them to the ionic form in which biotic uptake occurs and ultimately returning them to the atmosphere, water, or soil. (MEA 2005)



Downstream: away from fields or principal area of activity; concerns adjacent areas or areas further away from the area where specific activities are applied.


Refers to the area in which the Technology is applied, the field itself.

Open (canopy) forest

Forests can be “open” or “closed”, depending on the amount of cover provided by the tree canopy over the forest floor. For example, woodlands have a more open canopy, with trees spaced further apart and with gaps within the canopy (

Organic farming

Crop and livestock production systems that do not make use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. May also include restrictions on the use of transgenic crops (genetically modified organisms). (MEA 2005)


When plants are exposed to intensive grazing for extended periods of time, or without sufficient recovery periods ( The effect of overgrazing is usually a decrease in plant cover, a change to lower-quality fodder, and/ or soil compaction.



A fence of stakes (or woven sticks, etc.) set firmly in the ground, as for enclosure or defence, often used to protect from wind erosion or to catch sand blown in wind.

Pastoralism, pastoral system

The use of domestic animals as a primary means for obtaining resources from habitats (MEA 2005). The grazing of animals on natural or semi-natural grassland, grassland with trees, and/ or open woodlands. Animal owners may have a permanent residence while livestock is moved to distant grazing areas, according to the availability of resources.


Land (and the vegetation growing on it) devoted to the production of introduced or indigenous forage for harvest by grazing, cutting, or both. (Allen et al. 2011)

Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES)

Also known as Payment for Environmental Services. Compensation or incentives paid to land owners or land managers in exchange for enhancement or maintenance of ecosystem services (e.g. clean water, biodiversity habitats, carbon sequestration capabilities) that would otherwise be decreased or threatened. These can be public payments to land owners, market trading schemes, or self-organized private deals (Liniger et al. 2017). The term PES applies to situations where one group of land users are the “custodians” of an ecosystem that has an impact on another group (or groups) situated off-site or downstream. The idea behind PES is that there is an implicit cost in maintaining the flow of ecosystem services, which should be paid for by those who benefit from them.

Population dynamics

Changes in numbers/ growth rates of population, etc.

Post-flooding/ Flood retreat agriculture/ Flood recession agriculture

After rainwater has naturally flooded the field plants and crops growing along rivers, their tributaries and deltas, ephemeral (dry) riverbeds and the areas around lakes benefit from flooding (opportunistic irrigation) and make use of residual moisture after flood retreat. Crops use this water reserve for establishment. (Mekdaschi Studer and Liniger 2013)

Post-harvest measures/ handling

Encompasses activities to deliver a crop from harvest to consumption with minimum loss, maximum efficiency, and maximum return for all involved – such as drying, storage, cooling, cleaning, sorting, and packing.



Crop establishment and development completely sustained by rainfall.


Commercial raising of grazing animals, mainly for meat, under extensive production systems usually with controlled boundaries and paddocks.


Land on which the indigenous vegetation is predominantly grasses, grass-like plants, forbs or shrubs that are grazed or have the potential to be grazed, and which is used as a natural ecosystem for the production of grazing livestock and wildlife. (Allen et al. 2011)


Planting of forests on lands that have previously contained forest but have since been converted to some other use. (MEA 2005)

Relay cropping

Specific form of mixed cropping/ intercropping in which a second crop is planted into an established stand of a main crop, e.g. winter wheat into standing soybeans. The second crop develops fully after the main crop is harvested.

Renewable energy

Energy sources from natural resources, such as sunshine, wind, flowing water, biofuels, etc. which produce energy indefinitely without being depleted ( Renewable energy is not finite, in contrast to the fossil fuels oil, coal, and gas.


The capacity of social, economic, and environmental systems to cope with a hazardous event or trend or disturbance, responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain their essential function, identity, and structure, while also maintaining the capacity for adaptation, learning, and transformation. (IPCC 2014, building on definition used in Arctic Council 2013)

Resting/ closing

Land closed by fencing (physical or social) or other means of controlling grazing or resting activities.

Retention/ infiltration ditch

A ditch (similar to a diversion ditch) but constructed on the contour, with the objective of capturing and allowing the infiltration of run-off from above.

Rill erosion

Concentrated flow of run-off creating shallow channels.

Riparian forest

A forested or wooded area of land adjacent to a body of water such as a river, stream, pond, lake, marshland, estuary, canal, sink, or reservoir. These forests are often buffer zones between managed land and water bodies and play important roles for groundwater recharge, water filtration and quality, prevention of river bank erosion, and sediment control. (Liniger et al. 2017)

Rotational crop systems

The successive cultivation of different crops in a specified order on the same fields. Helps to reduce soil erosion and increases soil fertility and crop yield.


Portion of total precipitation from a given area that flows over surface.



The build-up of salts in soils.

Sediment harvesting

Measure taken to collect sediment carried in run-off, for productive purpose.

Sediment/ sand trap

Device (either an above-ground barrier or a dam wall) built specifically to trap sand or sediments moving in the wind or in water flow.


Degree to which a system or species is affected, either adversely or beneficially, by climate variability or change. The effect may be direct (e.g. a change in crop yield in response to a change in the mean, range, or variability of temperature) or indirect (e.g. damages caused by an increase in the frequency of coastal flooding due to sea level rise). (IPCC 2014)

Sheet erosion

Erosion which removes a thin surface layer of soil.

Shifting cultivation

Cultivation on a piece of land which is cleared, cultivated temporarily for a number of seasons, and then left fallow/ abandoned for several years to revert to their natural vegetation or recover fertility, while the land user moves to another site.


The deposit of silt (or other sediment) within reservoirs, dams, irrigation schemes, etc.


Refers to the exclusive use of land for forest products and animal production by browsing of shrubs and trees and/ or grazing of co-existing forage crops. (Allen et al. 2011)

Soil/ land cover

The physical coverage of land, usually expressed in terms of vegetation cover or lack of it. Related to, but not synonymous with, land use. (

Species diversity

A measure of diversity within an ecological community that incorporates both species richness (the number of species in a community) and the evenness of species abundance; species include all fauna and flora above ground and in the soil.


People involved in or impacted by land management, such as representatives from associations and local initiatives, indigenous people, local/ regional/ national government representatives and their agencies, private enterprises/ business representatives, as well as many individual land users and land owners, and the researchers working in the involved research projects. (Liniger et al. 2017)

Stall feeding

Carrying fodder to animals confined to a stall/ shed.

Strip cropping

A method of farming which involves cultivating a field partitioned into long, narrow strips (along the contour), which are alternated in a crop rotation system. The most common crop choices for strip cropping are closely sown crops such as hay, wheat, or other forages, which are alternated with strips of row crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton, or sugar beets. (Fredrick et al. 2003)


An instrument used by the state or by private actors to reduce the costs of a product or increase the returns from a particular activity. It may be provided in cash or in kind and usually serves a specific purpose.


The layer of soil between the topsoil on the surface of the ground and bedrock. Does not have a high concentration of organic matter but is rich in minerals.


Deep ripping of soil with a tine or similar tool, normally to break compacted subsoils, a hard pan, and/ or to improve drainage and infiltration.

Surface water management

Involves the protection of springs, rivers, and lakes from pollution, high water flows (floods), or over-abstraction of water.

Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and Soil and Water Conservation (SWC)

The use of land resources – including soils, water, vegetation, and animals – to produce goods and provide services to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions.

Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Approach

An SLM Approach defines the ways and means used to implement one or several SLM Technologies. It includes technical and material support, as well as involvement and roles of different stakeholders, etc. An Approach can refer to a project/ programme or to activities initiated by land users themselves.

Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Technology

An SLM Technology is a practice applied in the field that controls land degradation and/ or enhances productivity. It consists of one or several measures, such as agronomic, vegetative, structural, and management measures.

Sustainable livelihoods

Making a reliable living from the resources and opportunities that are available, and the search for ways and means of achieving this. The resources have been referred to as “the five capitals” (social, human, natural, physical and financial).


Target group

The group of people addressed by a policy or campaign that hopes to influence them in some way.


Wood used for construction.


The upper part of a soil, with the lower limit set at 30 cm or shallower. It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs.

Trash lines

Lines of crop residues/ weeds laid out along the contour to act as a barrier to run-off and erosion. May be allowed to rot and be dug into the ground to improve fertility.



The propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected. Vulnerability encompasses a variety of concepts and elements including sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt. (IPCC 2014)


Waste (water) management

A set of activities that includes collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of waste, prevention of waste production, and modification and reuse/ recycling of waste.

Water harvesting

The collection and management of floodwater or rainwater run-off to increase water availability for domestic and agricultural use as well as ecosystem sustenance.


Saturation of the soil by groundwater sufficient to prevent or hinder agriculture.

Water security

A situation in which “availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” is ensured (Sustainable Development Goal 6). Water security is not just about domestic use, but adequate water for farming as well.

Watershed/ catchment

Also drainage basin, catchment basin, river basin. A watershed is a topographically limited area from which all water is drained by a common water course/ outlet. It is the area with a common water flow or drainage system joining in one body of water such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean. (Liniger et al 2017)

Wetland protection/ management

Managing wetland typically involves manipulating water levels and vegetation in the wetland, and providing an upland buffer.


Areas of marsh, fen, peatland, or water – whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary – with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish, or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres. May incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide laying within the wetlands. (MEA 2005)


Land, often inaccessible and of poor quality, not used for production.


A plantation usually made up of one or more rows of trees or shrubs planted in such a manner as to provide shelter from the wind and to protect soil from erosion. They are commonly planted around the edges of fields on farms.


A plant community in which, in contrast to a typical forest, the trees are often small, characteristically short-boled relative to their crown depth, and forming only an open canopy with the intervening area occupied by shorter vegetation, commonly grass. (Allen et al. 2011)


Zero grazing

Stall feeding (see above) where the livestock are not permitted to graze at all.

Zero tillage/ no-till/ direct drilling

A system whereby crops are planted into the soil without primary tillage beforehand. It is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till is an agricultural technique, which increases the amount of water that infiltrates into the soil and increases organic matter retention and cycling of nutrients in the soil. (


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