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Land Degradation - Cook Islands National Environment Service
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Land Degradation

Land Degradation

Desertification and land degradation are important global issues of the 21st Century because of its adverse impact on agronomic productivity, food security, the quality of life and our environment.  In turn, these can cause economic consequences that affect the livelihoods of Cook Islanders.  Long term sustainable development demands that land degradation trends and issues be addressed as a matter of priority.

In recognition of these effects, the project ‘Capacity Building for Sustainable Land Management in the Cook Islands’ was established.

Capacity Building for Sustainable Land Management

The focus of this project is to distinguish activities that lead to land degradation and to formulate methods of preventing such land degradation through sustainable land management practices.

The primary factors in the Cook Islands that have been identified as causing land and coastal degradation as a result of human induced activities include:

a) Coastal development: beachmining (now controlled), wave deflection and reclamation works; wetland filling;
b) Urbanisation, tourist and commercial development of the coastal strip: changed physiography, sewage and polluted runoff;
c) Inland area developments/activities, other than agriculture: urbanization and residential development on steep lands; cut and fill; poor infrastructure location;
d) Agricultural practices: overuse of pesticides, inorganic fertilizers; poor land systems management; invasive species.

Project Goal:

‘Contribute to maintaining and improving ecosystem stability, integrity, functions and services while enhancing sustainable livelihoods by building the capacity to implement sustainable land management into all levels of decision-making.’

Project objective:

To strengthen human, institutional and systemic capacity for Sustainable Land Management (SLM).

Expected project outcomes and outputs:

Outcome 1: Knowledge and awareness of land degradation and the importance of sustainable land management increased.

Output 1.1: Awareness raising materials and social marketing plan.

Output 1.2: Awareness raising activities for local communities, the public, government agencies and schools.  Demonstration activities to engage communities and landowners to better understand the issues and are aware of choices in future actions.

Output 1.3: Nationwide land degradation assessment.  Information systems to enable the aggregation and characterization of data and information on terrestrial resource systems and to define the extent of land degradation.

Key Activities:

  • Education and awareness activities/resources to support the project and promote SLM
  • National assessment of land degradation


Outcome 2: Technical, individual and institutional capacities for SLM enhanced.

Output 2.1: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and knowledge management systems for use in cross-sector land use planning and natural resource management.

Output 2.2: Local community mapping and appraisal of representative catchment/s of the identified priority problem areas for land degradation.

Output 2.3: National, local village and outer Island governance structures and functions for land and biophysical information development and resource use planning.

Output 2.4: National institutional structures and functions to address SLM.

Output 2.5: Community-based mentoring network of resource owners and technocrats on SLM practice(s).


Key Activities:

  • Support the national assessment of land degradation in the Cook Islands including some community mapping initiatives
  • Development of GIS capacities within key organisations including training and data sharing protocols
  • Training and demonstration of sustainable land management methodologies at the community level


Outcome 3: Systemic capacity building and mainstreaming of SLM principles and objectives achieved.

Output 3.1: Resource mobilisation for National Action Plan (NAP).

Output 3.2: Mainstreaming SLM into national plans and policies.

Output 3.3: Medium-term investment plan developed to secure long term support.

Output 3.4: Options for medium-long term development of an integrated land use planning system to (among other matters) integrate SLM into local and national development processes.

Key Activities:

  • Development of a National Action Programme (NAP) to address Land Degradation
  • Development of an integrated Financial Strategy to support the implementation of the NAP and UNCCD activities in the Cook Islands
  • 4th National Report to the UNCCD



Outcome 4: Technical support at the local. Outer island and national levels to assist with mainstreaming and integrated decision-making enhanced.

Output 4.1: Tools, guildelines and manuals for different approaches to capacity development, mainstreaming with policy platforms and integrated land use planning options.

Output 4.2: Linkages between Regional, National and Local knowledge management networks.

Output 4.3: Effective mapping systems (GIS): with monitoring, evaluation and prioritising systems in place.

Output 4.4: Local and traditional management approaches into community-led integrated land use planning systems.


Click on the attachment below to read an article regarding erosion.


For further information contact:
Louisa Karika
Island Futures Division
[email protected]