The Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF) was developed at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) over several years of research on land degradation and ecosystem services.
Want to download a print version of the LDSF Field Guide?
Short description of the LDSF
The Land Degradation Surveillance Framework was developed as a response to the lack of methods for systematic landscape-level assessment of soil and ecosystem health. The methodology is designed to provide a biophysical baseline at landscape level, and a monitoring and evaluation framework for assessing processes of land degradation and the effectiveness of rehabilitation measures (recovery) over time.
The framework is built around a hierarchical field survey and sampling protocol using sites that are 100 km2 (10 x 10 km). LDSF sites may be selected at random across a region or watershed, or they may represent areas of planned activities (interventions) or special interest. Within each site, 16 tiles (2.5 x 2.5 km in size) are created and random centroid locations for clusters within each tile are generated. Each cluster consists of 10 plots, with randomized centre-point locations falling within a 1 km2 area. Thus, the LDSF has two (or in some cases three) levels of randomization, which minimize local biases that may arise from convenience sampling. Each plot is 0.1 ha and consists of 4 subplots, 0.01 ha in size.
Finally, the LDSF has a strong analytical framework built into it for modelling and mapping of a range of indicators of ecosystem health (see examples below). The main LDSF database is hosted at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and integrates information from field surveys, laboratory analysis (including NIR and MIR spectroscopy) and remote sensing. Mapping outputs are produced at multiple spatial scales, with fine-resolution maps produced at 5m or higher resolution, high resolution maps at 30m and moderate resolution maps at 250m to 500m resolution.
Some of the indicators that are measured as part of the LDSF
Organic carbon (SOC)
Soil fertility parameters
Vegetation structure and
Herbaceous cover type
Grass species richness
Grass perennial to annual
Distance measurements for perennial grasses
Land cover classification
Impact on habitat
Soil and water conservation
Vågen T, Shepherd K, Walsh M, Winowiecki L, Desta LT, Tondoh JE (2010) AfSIS technical specifications: Soil Health Surveillance. World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya, 76 pp.
Terhoeven-Urselmans T, Vågen T-G, Spaargaren O, Shepherd KD (2010) Prediction of Soil Fertility Properties from a Globally Distributed Soil Mid-Infrared Spectral Library. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 74, 1–8.
Vågen TG, Gumbricht T (2012) Sahel - Atlas of Changing Landscapes: Tracing Trends and Variations in Vegetation Cover and Soil Condition. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi, Kenya, 103 pp. http://www.unep.org/dewa/Portals/67/pdf/Sahel_Atlas_lowres.pdf
Vågen T-G, Walsh MG (2012) Sentinel Site Surveillance in Segou Region, Mali: An evidence-based approach to assessing land degradation and targeting sustainable land management interventions. In: Land Health Surveillance - an Evidence-based Approach to Land Ecosystem Management, pp. 115–171. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Vågen T-G, Davey F, Shepherd KD (2012) Land health surveillance: Mapping soil carbon in Kenyan rangelands. In: Agroforestry - The Future of Global Land Use (eds Nair PKR, Garrity D), pp. 455–462. Springer.
Vågen T-G, Winowiecki LA, Abegaz A, Hadgu KM (2013) Landsat-based approaches for mapping of land degradation prevalence and soil functional properties in Ethiopia. Remote Sensing of Environment, 134, 266–275.
Vågen T-G, Winowiecki LA (2013) Mapping of soil organic carbon stocks for spatially explicit assessments of climate change mitigation potential. Environmental Research Letters, 8, 1–9.
The Sentinel Landscapes Initiative
If you want to know more about the Sentinel Landscapes, a good place to start is to explore the interactive map below, which shows our current landscape boundaries. More landscapes will be added in 2015.
To see the boundaries, please register here if you are not already registered on the Landscapes Portal.