Special Issue "Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Purushothaman Chirakkuzhyil Abhilash
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India
Interests: climate-resilient agriculture; food security; sustainable agriculture; agrobiodiversity; agricultural sustainability; indigenous and local knowledge (ILK); wild crops
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Sheikh Adil Edrisi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Thapar School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, Patiala-147004, Punjab, India
Interests: biomass & bioenergy production; land restoration & development; remote sensing & GIS application; adaptive restoration measures; sustainability analysis
Dr. Vishal Tripathi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Interests: land restoration; biomonitoring, bioremediation and bioeconomy; plant-microbe-pollutant interactions
Dr. Rajiv K Chaturvedi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Goa Campus, Goa – 403726, India
Interests: climate change; public policy; climate policy; greenhouse gas inventory, impact, vulnerability & adaptation (IVA) assessment; energy policy; forestry and land-use change
Dr. Himlal Baral
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor Barat 16115, Indonesia
Interests: forest landscape restoration; landscape sustainability, biodiversity, ecosystem services; forest biomass; bioenergy and carbon sequestration
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Ali El-Keblawy
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Applied Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Sharjah, P.O. Box, 27272 Sharjah, UAE
Interests: invasive biology; restoration of arid deserts; plant propagation; reproductive ecology; natural resource exploitation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Land is a complex and dynamic bio-physical system that maintains essential planetary functions and vital ecosystem services such as biodiversity maintenance, water and nutrient cycling, climate regulation, food, fibre and fuel production, as well as providing space for human habitation and other development activities. Unfortunately, land degradation due to various direct and indirect drivers (i.e. industrialization, rapid urbanization, intensive agricultural activities, climatic change, etc.) are negatively affecting the homeostasis of land systems and thereby  reducing the ecosystem services offered by land for a good quality of life and human well-being. Hence the sustainable management of land resources is imperative for attaining various Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs), which are the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all, and addressing the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. Fortunately, there is a growing momentum for the restoration of degraded land across the world and especially the concept of forest landscape restoration (FLR) is rapidly gaining attention as a unifying theme in many national and subnational forestry programs. In this context, the present Special Issue on“Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain the UN-SDGs” aims to address the sustainability challenges of land degradation and showcase innovative and promising practices and success stories from across the world for restoring degraded lands to attain global sustainability by 2030.

Dr. Purushothaman Chirakkuzhyil Abhilash
Dr. Sheikh Adil Edrisi
Dr. Vishal Tripathi
Dr. Rajiv K Chaturvedi
Dr. Himlal Baral
Prof. Dr. Ali El-Keblawy
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Adaptive land management
  • Bioenergy production and bioeconomy
  • Bioremediation and biomonitoring
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Drivers of land degradation
  • Ecosystem services
  • Forest landscape restoration
  • Integrated restoration measures
  • Land systems and good quality of life
  • Policy measures
  • Remote sensing and GIS application
  • Restoration of marginal and degraded lands
  • Restoration of mined areas
  • Restoration methods and processes
  • Restoration monitoring
  • Restoration of polluted and agricultural lands
  • Social impact assessment
  • Stakeholder involvement
  • Traditional ecological knowledge

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Communication
Use of 3-Dimensional Videography as a Non-Lethal Way to Improve Visual Insect Sampling
Land 2020, 9(10), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9100340 - 23 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1398
Abstract
Insects, the most diverse and abundant animal species on the planet, are critical in providing numerous ecosystem services which are significant to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs). In addition to the UN-SDGs, the UN has declared the period 2021–2030 as the [...] Read more.
Insects, the most diverse and abundant animal species on the planet, are critical in providing numerous ecosystem services which are significant to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs). In addition to the UN-SDGs, the UN has declared the period 2021–2030 as the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.” Insects, because of the ecosystem services they provide, are critical indicators of restoration success. While the importance of insects in providing ecosystem services and their role in helping fulfil the UN-SDGs is recognized, traditional techniques to monitor insects may result in observer bias, high rates of type-I and type-II statistical error, and, perhaps most alarmingly, are often lethal. Since insects are critical in maintaining global food security, contribute to biological control and are a key food source for higher trophic levels, lethal sampling techniques which may harm insect populations are undesirable. In this study, we propose a method to visually sample insects which involves non-lethal 3-dimensional video cameras and virtual reality headsets. A total of eight observers viewed video captured insects visiting floral resources in a landscaped area on a university campus. While interobserver variability existed among individuals who partook in this study, the findings are similar to previous visual sampling studies. We demonstrate a combination of 3D video and virtual reality technology with a traditional insect count methodology, report monitoring results, and discuss benefits and future directions to improve insect sampling using these technologies. While improving quantitative monitoring techniques to study insects and other forms of life should always be strived for, it is a fitting time to introduce non-lethal sampling techniques as preservation and restoration of biodiversity are essential components of the UN-SDGs and the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Article
Land Cover Influences on LST in Two Proposed Smart Cities of India: Comparative Analysis Using Spectral Indices
Land 2020, 9(9), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9090292 - 24 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1062
Abstract
Elucidating the impact of Land Surface Temperature (LST) is an important aspect of urban studies. The impact of urbanization on LST has been widely studied to monitor the Urban Heat Island (UHI) phenomenon. However, the sensitivity of various urban factors such as urban [...] Read more.
Elucidating the impact of Land Surface Temperature (LST) is an important aspect of urban studies. The impact of urbanization on LST has been widely studied to monitor the Urban Heat Island (UHI) phenomenon. However, the sensitivity of various urban factors such as urban green spaces (UGS), built-up area, and water bodies to LST is not sufficiently resolved for many urban settlements. By using remote sensing techniques, this study aimed to quantify the influence of urban factors on LST in the two traditional cities (i) Panaji and (ii) Tumkur of India, proposed to be developed as smart cities. Landsat data were used to extract thematic and statistical information about urban factors using the Enhanced Built-up and Bareness Index (EBBI), Modified Normalized Difference Water Index (MNDWI), and Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (SAVI). The multivariate regression model revealed that the value of adjusted R2 was 0.716 with a standard error of 1.97 for Tumkur city, while it was 0.698 with a standard error of 1.407 for Panaji city. The non-parametric correlation test brought out a strong negative correlation between MNDWI and LST with a value of 0.83 for Panaji, and between SAVI and LST with a value of 0.77 for Tumkur. The maximum percentage share of cooling surfaces are water bodies in Panaji with 35% coverage and green spaces in Tumkur with 25% coverage. Apparently, the UGS and water bodies can help in bringing down the LST, as well as facilitating healthy living conditions and aesthetic appeal. Therefore, the significance of ecosystem services (green spaces and water bodies) should be given priority in the decision-making process of sustainable and vibrant city development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Article
Bentonite-Based Organic Amendment Enriches Microbial Activity in Agricultural Soils
Land 2020, 9(8), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080258 - 01 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1003
Abstract
Bentonite-based organic amendments may have the potential to enhance soil microbial properties. The experiment was carried out from 2014 to 2017 comprising four treatments: NPK fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium mineral fertilizer as a control), NPK + cattle manure, NPK + bentonite, and [...] Read more.
Bentonite-based organic amendments may have the potential to enhance soil microbial properties. The experiment was carried out from 2014 to 2017 comprising four treatments: NPK fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium mineral fertilizer as a control), NPK + cattle manure, NPK + bentonite, and NPK + combination of manure with bentonite (MB) to verify this hypothesis. The effect of treatments on seven different soil microbial properties was measured: dehydrogenase activity (DHA), bacterial phospholipid fatty acid content, fungal phospholipid fatty acid content, microbial biomass carbon (Cmic), 16S rDNA, 18S rDNA, and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in soil. The results showed that solely bentonite treatment increases the bacterial and fungal biomass, which was further confirmed by the increased 16S rDNA and 18s rDNA gene copy numbers. The only significantly decreased values upon treatment with solely bentonite were recorded for DHA and Cmic. The ammonia-oxidizing bacteria population increased with the sole application of bentonite and reached its maximum value when bentonite was applied with manure. The MB treatment showed the highest value for all seven measured properties. In summary, the application of bentonite solely might increase or decrease the soil activity, but its addition, along with manure, always promotes an abundance of soil microorganisms and their activity. The co-application of bentonite with manure altered the soil microbial properties in a 3-year field experiment in favor of increased microbial biomass, which is beneficial for agriculture and environment and reveals the potential for the restoration of polluted lands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Article
Sustainability Analysis of Prosopis juliflora (Sw.) DC Based Restoration of Degraded Land in North India
Land 2020, 9(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020059 - 21 Feb 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1817
Abstract
Restoration of marginal and degraded lands is essential for regaining biodiversity and ecosystems services, and thereby attaining UN-Sustainable Development Goals. During the last few decades, many fast growing and hardy trees have been introduced worldwide to restore the marginal and degraded lands for [...] Read more.
Restoration of marginal and degraded lands is essential for regaining biodiversity and ecosystems services, and thereby attaining UN-Sustainable Development Goals. During the last few decades, many fast growing and hardy trees have been introduced worldwide to restore the marginal and degraded lands for ecosystem stability. Unfortunately, most of these introduced species have become invasive and invaded the nearby productive systems, leading to significant biodiversity loss and land degradation. Therefore, it is imperative to conduct a sustainability analysis of the introduced species for necessary course correction and also for preventing the future utilisation of such species for land restoration. With this backdrop, the present study was conducted to analyse the socio-ecological impacts of a widely used species, i.e., Prosopis juliflora (Sw.) DC based restoration of degraded land of Lucknow, North India. For this, ecological (soil quality and plant biodiversity) and social (livelihood) indicators have been studied over a period of two years (2015–16) through direct field sampling and questionnaire-based surveys. While there was a positive difference (p < 0.01) in the key physico-chemical properties of the P. juliflora-invaded soil than the non-invaded site, the belowground microbial load was significantly lower (19.46 × 106 g−1 of soil) in invaded land as compared to the non-invaded one (31.01 × 106 g−1). Additionally, the invasion of P. juliflora had significantly reduced the biodiversity by displacing the local flora such as Achyranthes aspera L., Amaranthus spinosus L., Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers, Euphorbia hirta L., etc. The invaded area had only eight plant species having an effective number of species (ENS) of 7.2, whereas the non-invaded area had the presence of 26 plant species with an ENS of 23.8. Although the local people utilised P. juliflora as fuelwood mostly during summer and winter seasons, the invasion resulted in a fodder deficit of 419.97 kg household−1 y−1 leading to resource scarcity in the invaded area in comparison to the non-invaded area. Ecodistribution mapping clearly showed that P. juliflora is already found in most of the tropical and subtropical countries (~103) including in India and has become invasive in many countries. Therefore, we recommend that P. juliflora must be wisely used for the land restoration programs targeted during the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030) as this species has invasive traits and thereby reduces the ecosystem sustainability of the invaded areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Article
Effects of Soil Bund and Stone-Faced Soil Bund on Soil Physicochemical Properties and Crop Yield Under Rain-Fed Conditions of Northwest Ethiopia
Land 2020, 9(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010013 - 06 Jan 2020
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 1678
Abstract
Research-based evidence on the effects of soil and water conservation practices (SWCPs) on soil physicochemical properties and crop yield is vital either to adopt the practices or design alternative land management strategies. Thus, this study was conducted to evaluate the effects of about [...] Read more.
Research-based evidence on the effects of soil and water conservation practices (SWCPs) on soil physicochemical properties and crop yield is vital either to adopt the practices or design alternative land management strategies. Thus, this study was conducted to evaluate the effects of about 10-year-old soil bund (SB) and stone-faced soil bund (SFSB) structures on selected soil physicochemical properties, slope gradient, barley grain yield, and yield components in the Lole watershed, in the northwest highlands of Ethiopia. The experiment consisted of three treatments: (i) fields treated with SB, (ii) fields treated with SFSB, and (iii) fields without conservation practices (control) with three replications at three slope classes. A total of 27 composite soil samples from 0 to 20 cm depth and barley grain yield samples from 27 locations were collected. The soil samples were analyzed for bulk density, soil texture, porosity, soil reaction, cation exchange capacity, organic carbon, total nitrogen, available phosphorous, and potassium. Barley grain yield was analyzed using different agronomic parameters. The result indicated that SB and SFSB positively influenced the physicochemical properties of soils and barley grain yield. The interslope gradient between the successive SBs and SFSBs was reducing. Moreover, the untreated fields showed significantly lower barley grain yield, plant height, and straw biomass. Hence, SB and SFSB practices were found to be effective in changing slope gradient, improving soil fertility, and increasing crop yield. Therefore, this finding is vital to create awareness and convince farmers to construct SWCPs on their farmlands for sustainable land management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Article
Performance Analysis and Soil Quality Indexing for Dalbergia sissoo Roxb. Grown in Marginal and Degraded Land of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, India
Land 2019, 8(4), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8040063 - 15 Apr 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2117
Abstract
The successful utilization of marginal and degraded lands for biomass and bioenergy production depends upon various factors such as climatic conditions, the adaptive traits of the tree species and their growth rate and respective belowground responses. The present study was undertaken to evaluate [...] Read more.
The successful utilization of marginal and degraded lands for biomass and bioenergy production depends upon various factors such as climatic conditions, the adaptive traits of the tree species and their growth rate and respective belowground responses. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the growth performance of a bioenergy tree (Dalbergia sissoo Roxb.) grown in marginal and degraded land of the Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, India and to analyze the effect of D. sissoo plantations on soil quality improvement over the study years. For this, a soil quality index (SQI) was developed based on principal component analysis (PCA) to understand the effect of D. sissoo plantations on belowground responses. PCA results showed that among the studied soil variables, bulk density (BD), moisture content (MC), microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and soil urease activity (SUA) are the key variables critically influencing the growth of D. sissoo. The SQI was found in an increasing order with the growth period of D. sissoo. (i.e., from 0.419 during the first year to 0.579 in the fourth year). A strong correlation was also observed between the growth attributes (diameter at breast height, R2 = 0.870; and plant height, R2 = 0.861) and the soil quality (p < 0.01). Therefore, the developed SQI can be used as key indicator for monitoring the restoration potential of D. sissoo growing in marginal and degraded lands and also for adopting suitable interventions to further improve soil quality for multipurpose land restoration programs, thereby attaining land degradation neutrality and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Review

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Review
Restoring the Unrestored: Strategies for Restoring Global Land during the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (UN-DER)
Land 2021, 10(2), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10020201 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2004
Abstract
Restoring the health of degraded land is critical for overall human development as land is a vital life-supporting system, directly or indirectly influencing the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs). However, more than 33% of the global land is degraded and [...] Read more.
Restoring the health of degraded land is critical for overall human development as land is a vital life-supporting system, directly or indirectly influencing the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs). However, more than 33% of the global land is degraded and thereby affecting the livelihood of billions of people worldwide. Realizing this fact, the 73rd session of the UN Assembly has formally adopted a resolution to celebrate 2021–2030 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (UN-DER), for preventing, halting, and reversing degradation of ecosystems worldwide. While this move is historic and beneficial for both people and the planet, restoration of degraded land at different scales and levels requires a paradigm shift in existing restoration approaches, fueled by the application of applied science to citizen/community-based science, and tapping of indigenous and local knowledge to advanced technological breakthroughs. In addition, there is a need of strong political will and positive behavioral changes to strengthen restoration initiatives at the grassroot level and involvement of people from all walks of life (i.e., from politicians to peasants and social workers to scientists) are essential for achieving the targets of the UN-DER. Similarly, financing restoration on the ground by the collective contribution of individuals (crowd funding) and institutions (institutional funding) are critical for maintaining the momentum. Private companies can earmark lion-share of their corporate social responsibility fund (CSR fund) exclusively for restoration. The adoption of suitable bioeconomy models is crucial for maintaining the perpetuity of the restoration by exploring co-benefits, and also for ensuring stakeholder involvements during and after the restoration. This review underpins various challenges and plausible solutions to avoid, reduce, and reverse global land degradation as envisioned during the UN-DER, while fulfilling the objectives of other ongoing initiatives like the Bonn Challenge and the UN-SDGs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Review
Desertification–Scientific Versus Political Realities
Land 2020, 9(5), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050156 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1597
Abstract
Desertification is defined as land degradation occurring in the global drylands. It is one of the global problems targeted under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 15). The aim of this article is to review the history of desertification and to evaluate the scientific [...] Read more.
Desertification is defined as land degradation occurring in the global drylands. It is one of the global problems targeted under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 15). The aim of this article is to review the history of desertification and to evaluate the scientific evidence for desertification spread and severity. First quantitative estimates of the global extent and severity of desertification were dramatic and resulted in the establishment of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 1994. UNCCD’s task is to mitigate the negative impacts of desertification in drylands. Since the late 1990s, science has become increasingly critical towards the role of desertification in sustainable land use and food production. Many of the dramatic global assessments of desertification in the 1970s and 1980s were heavily criticized by scientists working in drylands. The used methodologies and the lack of ground-based evidence gave rise to critical reflections on desertification. Some even called desertification a myth. Later desertification assessments relied on remote sensing imagery and mapped vegetation changes in drylands. No examples of large areas completely degraded were found in the scientific literature. In science, desertification is now perceived as a local feature that certainly exists but is not as devastating as was earlier believed. However, the policy arena continues to stress the severity of the problem. Claims that millions of hectares of once productive land are annually lost due to desertification are regularly made. This highlights the disconnection between science and policy, and there is an urgent need for better dialogue in order to achieve SDG 15. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Review
Impact of Agrochemicals on Soil Microbiota and Management: A Review
Land 2020, 9(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020034 - 23 Jan 2020
Cited by 59 | Viewed by 4997
Abstract
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that in developing nations, there are three million cases of agrochemical poisoning. The prolonged intensive and indiscriminate use of agrochemicals adversely affected the soil biodiversity, agricultural sustainability, and food safety, bringing in long-term harmful effects on nutritional [...] Read more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that in developing nations, there are three million cases of agrochemical poisoning. The prolonged intensive and indiscriminate use of agrochemicals adversely affected the soil biodiversity, agricultural sustainability, and food safety, bringing in long-term harmful effects on nutritional security, human and animal health. Most of the agrochemicals negatively affect soil microbial functions and biochemical processes. The alteration in diversity and composition of the beneficial microbial community can be unfavorable to plant growth and development either by reducing nutrient availability or by increasing disease incidence. Currently, there is a need for qualitative, innovative, and demand-driven research in soil science, especially in developing countries for facilitating of high-quality eco-friendly research by creating a conducive and trustworthy work atmosphere, thereby rewarding productivity and merits. Hence, we reviewed (1) the impact of various agrochemicals on the soil microbial diversity and environment; (2) the importance of smallholder farmers for sustainable crop protection and enhancement solutions, and (3) management strategies that serve the scientific community, policymakers, and land managers in integrating soil enhancement and sustainability practices in smallholder farming households. The current review provides an improved understanding of agricultural soil management for food and nutritional security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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