ETC/ULS Report 01/2019: Land degradation knowledge base: policy, concepts and data

04 Dec 2019

Eva Ivits, Simone Verzandvoort, Rudi Hessel, Henk Wösten, Gergely Tóth, Mélanie Weynants, Michiel Cherlet, Stéphanie Horion, Gergely Maucha, Gundula Prokop

Land degradation is recognised as a threat to the European and global ecosystems and their condition, with direct relevance to climate change adaptation, human well-being, food-security and social welfare. However, objectives to halt and revert land degradation are dispersed over a range of strategic documents and policy guidelines at the EU. So are the topics of land and soil, which can be found across policy instruments of various sectors. Therefore, there is a need for a single up-to-date strategic policy framework that preserves and enhances land resources in the European Union.


This report aims at providing an overview of the current knowledge regarding land degradation from different perspectives:

  • by describing the current policy context, in particular key policy programs at the European and international level with ambitions to remediate land degradation,
  • by specifying current approaches towards land degradation mapping, with specific emphasis on mapping impacts on ecosystem services,
  • by analysing the evolution of land degradation assessments over time, their knowledge gain and weaknesses,
  • by showing the importance of soil degradation mapping as central factor for land degradation mapping,
  • by depicting the potentials of remote sensing approaches for land degradation mapping,
  • by explaining the concept of Land Degradation Neutrality, as developed by UNCCD, and
  • by proposing the way forward through establishing an Integrated Land Systems Data Platform to support the mapping of land degradation impacts on ecosystem services.