Project Description and Timeline

Project Description and Timeline

The GEF-Land Degradation Monitoring Project is a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded project that provides guidance on robust methods and a toolbox for assessing, monitoring status, and estimating trends in land degradation using remote sensing technology. The project’s guidance and toolbox can be employed to inform land management and investment decisions as well as to improve reporting to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and to the GEF. The project has piloted products and tools in four countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Senegal) through a partnership between Lund University in Sweden, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States, and Vital Signs.


The GEF-Land Degradation Monitoring Project has three major components:

1) Establishing methods for assessing and monitoring the status and trends of land degradation;

2) Demonstrating recommended methods and platforms that will enable widespread adoption of standardized methods and tools;

3) Developing gender appropriate capacity to use the toolbox and recommended approaches for assessing the status and trends of land degradation using remote sensing.


The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the GEF commissioned a review of the use of NDVI to monitor land degradation, which subsequently inspired this project. Numerous international processes, including the UNCCD, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have highlighted land degradation as a key development challenge. A lack of reliable information and cost effective methods for collecting and analyzing data hampers the development of policy to address this challenge. Several barriers contribute to this, including a dearth of standardized and harmonized datasets, methods, and tools for assessing land degradation; an absence of systematic and documented testing for assessing baselines at national scale in different agro-ecosystems; and capacity constraints due, in part, to the limited access to relevant satellite imagery. The STAP approached Vital Signs, NASA, and the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a proposal that would address these barriers, ultimately resulting in the GEF-Land Degradation Monitoring Project.


Project Duration
January 1, 2016 - December 31, 2017

GEF Executing Agency
Vital Signs

GEF Project Agency
Conservation International



January, 2016:

  • Project Commencement

March, 2016:

  • Inception Workshop

June, 2016: 

  • Inception Workshop Report Available to Public

September, 2016:

  • Gender Mainstreaming Plan Available to Public

March, 2017:

  • Report on Comparison of Different Datasets and Methods (Output 1.1.1) Available to Public

June, 2017:

  • Report on Evaluation of Approaches (Output 1.1.2) Available to Public
  • Open-sourced Online Toolbox and Training Materials (Output 2.1.2) Available to Public

September, 2017:

  • Report on Standard Methods and Agreed-Upon Analytical Steps and Recommended Datasets (Output 1.2.1) Available to Public
  • Gender-appropriate Guidance Documents and Manuals (Output 3.1.1) Available to Public

October, 2017:

  • Stakeholder Capacity Building Workshop

December, 2017:

  • Report on Improvement of the GBI Algorithm (Output 1.2.2) Available to Public
  • Report on Land Degradation Baseline for In-country Evaluation of Pilot Countries (Output 2.1.1) Available to Public
  • Implementation of Improved GBI Calculation (Output 2.1.2) Incorporated in Toolbox
  • Policy-relevant Guidance for Pilot Countries (Output 2.1.2) Available to Public