The many faces of land degradation.

In some areas land degradation may not be obvious or visible for some time. In other places, the slow process of sheet and rill erosion exists; gullies emerge. These small disturbances in our fragile ecosystems, when remain unattended, may result in a widespread and severe land degradation. Unhealthy soil results to production loss - a problem in cropland and grazing land.

Besides water erosion, we find numerous other types of land degradation which affect of course the livelihood of land users, i.e. farmers, herders, foresters. Below are pictures of various land degradation to name just a few.

  • Salinization

  • Detrimental effects of forest fire

  • Vegetation degradation

  • Soil compaction

  • Water degradation

Many of these processes and impactsProcesses and Impacts
It includes soil erosion caused by wind and water; deterioration of the biological, physical and chemical properties of soils; and long term loss of vegetation.
have been studied in detail. For a long time, researches focus on land degradation with lesser emphasis on interventions to combat and prevent it.


Implies the use of conservation measures that maintain natural resources and their environmental and productive function on land.

Mitigation or "Cure"

An intervention intended to reduce ongoing degradation.


Is required when the land is already degraded to such an extent that the original use is no longer possible, and land has become practically unproductive.

Solutions do exist: Sustainable Land Management (SLM)

SLM is defined as the use of land and water resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions.

But why are they not more used, applied or promoted?

About the Project.

Despite continuous efforts to spread SLM practices, adoption is still alarmingly low. Successful adoption of SLM depends on a combination of factors and it is a challenge to find best SLM practices for diverse local conditions. It is, therefore, essential to provide decision support tools for local land-users, specialists, planners, and decision-makers and invest in knowledge management and decision support mechanisms by following sound procedures and tapping existing knowledge (WOCAT WOCAT
World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies.

SLM technologies and approaches remain scattered and in different formats. There are knowledge gaps specifically in terms of area covered, impacts and economics of SLM and therefore these knowledge are not used to make decisions. Hence, there is a need to document this wealth of knowledge on SLM, put them into a database, and process them into knowledge products that can be used as decision support tools .

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The general objective is to develop sustainable land management (SLM) decision support tools for combating land degradation, and the effects of climate change

Specific Objectives:
  1. Document available SLM and climate change adaptation best practices and success stories, both indigenous and science-based knowledge, from different parts of the country;
  2. Increase capacity and awareness of local partners on SLM and adaptation strategies in areas vulnerable to the effects of climate change;
  3. Develop SLM knowledge management and decision support tools using WOCAT methodology;
  4. Strengthen the PHILCAT in its advocacy and activities related to SLM; and
  5. Communicate and disseminate results to land users, SWC advocates and specialists, and policy and decision makers to facilitate broader adoption.

The project will focus on the following ecosystems nationwide; with each ecosystem to be covered by a partner PHILCAT member-institution that serves as the SLM center for best practices:

  1. Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) - Benguet: Highland ecosystem with smallholders agriculture for high value crop production under Type 1 & III Climate – BSU
  2. Region III - Central Plain of Luzon: Irrigated Rice Production Systems under Type 1 and Type III Climate – CLSU & BPSU
  3. Region IV - Southern Luzon: Natural Resources Management and watershed protection under Type 1 Climate - UPLB
  4. Region VIII – Leyte: Small Island Environment vulnerable to typhoons under Type II Climate – VSU
  5. Region X – Bukidnon: Highland ecosystem with corporate farming for high value crop production under Type IV Climate – Xavier University
  1. Awareness raising, education, and training particularly on WOCAT tools and methodologies
  2. Documentation of SLM and climate change adaptation best practices and success stories using WOCAT methodology and tools;
  3. Development of on-line database on SLM knowledge management;
  4. Development and publication of compendium of best practices on sustainable land management (SLM)
  5. Multimedia Documentation of identified best practices
  6. Project Management and Monitoring

Project Outputs

The project will deliver the following outputs with respect to each specific objective:

Objective 1: To document available SLM and climate change adaptation best practices and success stories
  1. Guidelines and protocols to select SLM best practices completed
  2. SLM best practices identified and selected from the 5 strategic ecosystems through the conduct of seminar-workshop in the identified SLM centers.
  3. SLM best practices are documented using WOCAT questionnaires on technologies and approaches, and mapped/tagged
Objective 2: To increase capacity and awareness of local partners on SLM and climate change adaptation strategies.
  1. Trained project staff and local partners on the application of WOCAT tools and methodologies.
  2. Well-informed local partners regarding SLM as climate change adaptation options.
Objective 3: To develop SLM knowledge management and decision support tools using WOCAT methodology.
  1. Documented SLM best practices are entered in the WOCAT database.
  2. Summarized report of SLM best practices generated from the WOCAT database.
Objective 4: To strengthen the PHILCAT in its advocacy and activities related to SLM.
  1. PHILCAT institutional members’ active participation and contribution in the project implementation and WOCAT activities.
Objective 5: To communicate and disseminate results to land users, SWC advocates and specialists, and policy and decision makers to facilitate broader adoption.
  1. Knowledge products on SLM are disseminated for local use; active website accessible to public.

Team Members.

The project roster is composed of soil and water conservation (SWC) specialists nominated/endorsed by heads of the different agencies/institutions of the country working on SWC contributing to sustainable land management (SLM).

Implementing Agency

Bataan Peninsula State University. (BPSU)

Implementing Agency

Benguet State University. (BSU)

Implementing Agency

Central Luzon State University. (CLSU)

Implementing Agency

Conservation Farming Movement, Inc.. (CFMi)

Implementing Agency

Department of Agrarian Reform - Bureau of Land Development. (DAR-BLD)

Funding Agency

Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agricultural Research. (DA-BAR)

Lead Agency

Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Soils and Water Management. (DA-BSWM)

Implementing Agency

Department of Agricuture - Agricultural Training Institute. (DA-ATI)

Implementing Agency

Department of Environement and Natural Resources - Forest Management Bureau. (DENR-FMB)

Implementing Agency

Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development. (PCAARRD)

Implementing Agency

National Irrigation Administration. (NIA)

Implementing Agency

Philippine Society of Soil Science and Technology. (PSSST)

Implementing Agency

Senate Legislative Support Service. (SENATE)

Implementing Agency

University of the Philippines Los Baños. (UPLB)

Implementing Agency

Visayas State University. (VSU)

Implementing Agency

World Agroforestry Centre - International Center for Research and Agro-forestry. (WAC-ICRAF)

Implementing Agency

Xavier University - Sustainable Agriculture Research Center. (XU)

SLM Practices.

  • Alternate Wetting and Drying

    Alternate Wetting and Drying is a water-use management technique wherein irrigation water input could be substantially reduced to as much as 35% without significantly affecting rice yields.

  • Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR)

    A process of rehabilitating degraded forest lands by taking advantage of trees already growing in the area.

  • Community-Based Forest Management

    "Community Forestry, Social Forestry"

    Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) refers to the organized efforts to work with communities in and near public forest lands with the intent to protect, rehabilitate, manage, conserve, and utilize the resource in partnership with the LGUs and other stakeholders.

  • Compact Farming for Vegetables Production

    Landusers are organized into a group or association to undertake jointly activities in the farm which include operation, input procurement, and marketing of produced crops.

  • Composting using Indigenous Microorganism (IMO)

    Composting is the natural process of decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms under controlled conditions.

  • Conservation Farming Village

    A modality in mobilizing resources for sustainable upland development which utilizes a basket of strategies, technologies, and interventions to catalyze the widespread transformation of traditional upland farming systems into resilient and sustainable upland production systems.

  • Conservation Tillage Practices for Corn Production

    "Tipid Saka"

    A crop production system which focuses on soil conservation and reducing excessive tillage operations, reduces labor and farm inputs while increasing productivity and profitability.

  • Contour Farming Using Hedgerows

    "Contour Farming"

    Contour farming is a technology practiced in sloping areas in which hedgerows are established along the contours and other annual/cash crops are grown in the alleys between the hedges.

  • Contour Straight Block Layout

    It is a package of soil and water conservation technology that integrates contouring, bedding, and blocking.

  • Ecological engineering for irrigated lowland rice ecosystem

    Ecological engineering for lowland rice ecosystem by promoting and planting of flower strips in rice fields.

  • Firebreaks/Greenbreaks

    Gaps in vegetation or other combustible material that act as barriers to prevent and/ or control the spreading of forest fires to other areas.

  • Highly Diversified Cropping in Live Trellis System

    "Kakawate as live trellis "balag""

    Gliricidia sepium locally known as "kakawate" served as live trellis / or anchorage for annual crops (mostly creeping-type vegetables) and erosion control measure. The technology is well-adopted in the community providing immediate food for the farmers and increased income due to diversified farming.

  • In 'situ' Decomposition of Banana Stalk

    "Palata System"

    Leaving the trunk of a newly harvested banana standing beside a follower plant to provide nutrients and moisture especially during period of drought.

  • Integrated Soil and Water Conservation Approach in Improving Biophysical Condition of Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Development Corporation (MKADC) Pineapple Production

    Integration of soil and water conservation technologies primarily aim to protect the area from loss of biodiversity and land degradation.

  • LANDCARE - Claveria Landcare Association (CLCA)

    Associations that help diffuse, at low cost, soil and water conservation technologies among upland farmers to generate income while conserving natural resources.

  • Littuko Growing for Forest Enhancement

    Growing of rattan is done by upland farmers as part of the Community Based Forest Management (CBFM).

  • Mangroves as Buffer against Natural Hazards


    Mangroves "bakauan" are planted in the island coast to form barriers and as first line of defense during storm surges.

  • Modified Rapid Composting

    Modified Rapid Composting is the in situ decomposition of rice straw using compost fungus activator, Trichoderma harzianum or Effective Microorganism, help in utilizing the residual Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (NPK) from the decomposed rice straw.

  • Multi-Storey Cropping

    "Maramihang Pagtatanim or Planting in Great Numbers"

    Cultivating a mixture of crops with different heights (multi-storey) and growth characteristics which together optimise the use of soil, moisture and space.

  • Natural Vegetative Strips (NVS)

    Within individual cropland plots, strips of land are marked out on the contour and left unploughed in order to form permanent, cross-slope barriers of naturally established grasses and herbs.

  • Organic Mulching

    Organic mulching is a practice of applying thin layer of organic materials on the soil surface that decompose over time for the purpose of conserving soil moisture, reducing soil erosion, improving soil fertility, and reducing weed growth.

  • Organic-Based System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

    Intensifying the irrigated rice production while at the same time reducing farm inputs including seeds, fertilizer, and water.

  • Palayamanan - Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Lowland Ecosystem


    Synergistic mix of farming ventures implemented by the farm family based on the existing environment and their resources to address food security, income instability, and sustainability.

  • Planted Vegetative Strips (PVS)

    Planting of economic crops/forages in strips along the contour to control soil loss through erosion.

  • Pressing of Cogon Grass (Imperata cylindrica)

    An indigenous technology of enhancing wildling growth by pressing of cogon grass.

  • Rainfed paddy rice terraces


    Terraces supporting rainfed paddy rice on steep mountain slopes: these have been in existence for more than a thousand years.

  • Residue Incorporation (Corn)

    "Palugdang", "Palata"

    Incorporation of corn stalks during land preparation for the succeeding crop.

  • Rockwall Terracing

    Rockwall terracing refers to the piling of stones or rocks along contour lines to reduce soil erosion in hilly areas.

  • Sediment Traps

    "Catch basin, silt traps, cascading canals, trenches, ditches"

    Sediment traps are structures built in the area which includes cascading catchment canal, silt traps and catch basin along perimeter, between pineapple fields and along diversion ditches to collect run-off during rains, preventing and minimizing the eroded soils cascading into natural bodies of water.

  • Seed Production of Multipurpose Shrubs/Legumes

    Seed production of multipurpose shrubs and legumes, a soil conservation practice in sloping areas wherein flemingia (Flemingia macrophylla) and Indigofera (Indigofera tinctoria) are densely planted along contours.

  • Small Farm Reservoir (SFR)


    The Small Farm Rerservoir is an earth dam structure used to trap harvest and store rainfall and water runoff.

  • Small Water Impounding Project (SWIP)

    Development of micro-catchment for soil and water conservation and for the provision of supplementary irrigation during the dry season.

  • Soil Conservation Guided Farm System

    "SCGFS, Guided Farm, Guided Farm Project"

    Soil Conservation Guided Farming System (SCGFS) is a land use management approach that integrates technologies: terracing, agro-pastoral technology, multi-storey, and contouring within the socio-economic and bio-physical limitations of upland areas for optimum development of soil and water resource in a sustainable manner.

  • Stone bunds and small basins

    "Pamugong sa yuta (Cebuano)"

    Piling of stones and rocks along the contour to control run-off and soil erosion. It is also about the creation of small basins by removing stones and using them as barriers.

  • Sugar Mill Wastewater Re-use for Irrigation

    Re-using of wastewater to support agricultural crop production, as well as, to help in environmental protection

  • Sweet Potato Relay Cropping

    "Lapat System"

    A farmer’s indigenous practice of growing sweet potato as a relay crop to its main crop of either rice or corn.

  • Trees as Buffer Zones

    Trees as buffer zones are vegetative measures established in the area to prevent pest from crossing in between blocks. Further, the technology provides haven for flora and fauna which are endemic in the area.

  • Vegetable Terracing

    Vegetable terracing is a technology practiced at which point terraces are established from the contours along mountain slope for crop production.

  • Vegetative Approach in Controlling Wind and Water Erosion in Sand Dune Areas

    Using vegetative approach to stabilize sand dune areas along the coast.

  • Vetiver grass system or Vetiver grass technology

    "Mora, Moras, Amora and Modas in the different regions in the Philippines"

    Vetiver grass used as contour hedgerows in sloping agricultural land used for annual crops.

  • Windbreaks

    Planting of herbaceous plants or trees along property boundaries to serve as windbreaks and as sources of fodder and fuel.

  • Woodlot


    Woodlot is a forest management approach which aims the to provide food, wood for fule, construction and material for woodcarving and to provide a steady source of water for the lower-hilly riceland area.

Map of documented SLMs in the Philippines.