Press Release: SOIL is a Semi-Finalist for the Land for Life Award

15 Semi-Finalists Announced for first Land for Life Award


24/05/2012 Bonn, Germany – From turning human waste into organic fertilizer to scientific breakthroughs reversing desertification, the 15 semi-finalists of the Land for Life award find innovative and inspiring ways to restore degraded land.

Launched by the UNCCD for the first time in 2011, the Land for Life Award will recognize efforts that promote the natural health and productivity of the earth’s soils.

Three winners will share a prize fund of up to 100,000 USD. They will be announced on 17 June, the World Day to Combat Desertification in Rio de Janeiro as part of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+ 20.

More than one hundred applications were received from 52 countries. The competition was open to individuals, NGOs, governments, business, media and others that could demonstrate contributions to sustainable land management.

The winners will be selected by a Jury of ten experts from the field of sustainable land management. The jury includes personalities like Dr. Vandana Shiva, a renowned seed sovereignty activist from India, Ms. Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International and Dr. Camilla Toulmin, Director, International Institute for Sustainable Development as well as other respected experts from government, the UNCCD, civil society and academia.

The fifteen semi-finalists are:

Alan Savory, Zimbabwe

A lifelong champion of sustainable land management, Alan Savory has pioneered the concept of holistic land management, promoting sustainable grazing particularly in the grasslands of Africa.

Chifeng Muncipal Government, China

In the arid lands of Inner Mongolia, the government of Chifeng faces a serious fight of desertification, which threatens nearly 30 percent of the total region. Through scientific policy planning and mass mobilization, Chifeng has rehabilitated three-quarters of a million hectares of degraded land, and on average each hectare of shelterbelt forest prevents 10 tons of soil loss each year.

Community Efforts for Community Development (CECOD), Uganda

More than 85 percent of Ugandans live in rural areas, making their livelihoods from the land. But over the years the school system has become increasingly academic. Concerned with increasing knowledge of sustainable development, CECOD has turned children into agents of change in rural communities through creating a network of eco-schools, training of over 7,500 teachers and involving 34,700 children in micro projects, such as organic farming and water harvesting.

DeCo! Ghana

Farmers in the savanna region of Ghana have low yields as result of poor soils. DeCo! provides low cost organic fertilizer through a sustainable business model, collecting local waste, fruit, vegetable and other biomass residues to produce rich compost.

DESIRE-WOCAT, The Netherlands

A research network connecting people from local to global levels worldwide, the DESIRE-WOCAT project has expanded the knowledge available about land degradation and desertification by collecting case studies, establishing indicators, and conducting trainings.

Dr. Liliya Dimeyeva, Kazakhstan

Working across borders and cultures, Dr. Dimeyeva has dedicated her scientific research to creating green sea beds in the dry Aral Sea, an important scientific breakthrough in an area facing severe land degradation.

Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE), Nigeria

Faced with advancing sand dunes in Northern Nigeria, FADE has planted a wall of trees and conducted creative awareness raising about combating desertification in Nigeria, including a reality TV show called Desert Warriors.

Grupo Ambiental para el Desarrollo (GADE), Argentina

In Colonia El Simbolar in Northern Argentina, farmers struggled to make ends meet, and large amounts of land were abandoned. GADE has led the community to plant resilient native trees, Algarrobo Blanco, which can be used for wood, flour and honey. The reforestation of nearly 7,000 hectares has increased incomes of struggling farmers, and mobilized the community, especially youth, to protect the environment.

The Great Green Wall, Korea & China

Set on the border between Korea and China, the Great Green Wall runs 16 hectares, and is surrounded by the Save the Earth Eco-Village. A collaboration between students, governments, NGOs and businesses led by Future Forest, the wall has succeeded in halting desertification and preventing the encroachment of sand dunes.

Dr. Goaming Jiang, Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Where many efforts to reverse desertification in northern China have failed, Professor Jiang has proven that by ending the grazing of large livestock and providing the community with alternative livelihoods, land can be naturally restored.

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), Haiti

Working in some of the poorest areas of Haiti, SOIL has developed an integrated approach to the issues of inadequate sanitation, declining soil fertility and extensive erosion. Through community driven ecological sanitation, SOIL helps restore soils and improve agricultural yields, at the same time improving the dignity and health of people without sanitation.

Mr. Tie Shunliang, the Director of Forestry and Environment Protection Bureau, China

Dedicating his career to afforestation and combatting desertification in the tough conditions of western China, the efforts of Mr. Shunliang have led to the restoration of nearly 25,000 hectares of degraded land. He also pioneered wolfberry cultivation, with benefits to the environment and additional incomes for 30,000 people, most of whom are women.

Terraprima, Portugal

Through technological innovation including an innovative use of legumes, Terra Prima reduces costs for farmers for fertilization, land maintenance and animal feeding.  The project potentially improves the soil health of 1 million hectares of land, at the same time offering opportunities for large-scale soil carbon sequestration.

Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA), Turkey

The largest environmental NGO in Turkey, TEMA has mobilized people across civil society, from children to farmers, gathering one million signatures supporting a law for soil protection, as well as providing practical leadership in the field for holistic land management.

Wand Foundation, Philippines

Many poor farmers in the Philippines lose their land in local mortgage schemes known as prenda. The Wand Foundation helps farmers reclaim their land, and increase soil fertility through providing fertilizer produced by ecological sanitation.

For more information, please visit:

About the Land for Life Award

The 2012 Land for Life award is a collaboration between the UNCCD and the Korea Forest Service, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Global Environment Facility, International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Qatar National Food Security Programme, the Business Forum in Korea and the Elion Resources Group, China.

About the UNCCD

Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of healthy soils. The Convention’s 195 signatory parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the lands productivity, and mitigate the effects of drought.


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