Assessing land condition as a first step to achieving land degradation neutrality: A case study of the Republic of Srpska

Marijana Kapović Solomun*, Nichole Barger, Artemi Cerda, Saskia Keesstra, Mihajlo Marković

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) is a key voluntary and aspirational target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 which urges countries to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. A first and critical important step in the implementation of LDN is assessing the current land condition using not only active restoration of degraded land, but also targeting land degradation drivers behind the land degradation process. In a first step to achieve these goals, countries were provided a global dataset for three sub-indicators of land degradation: land cover (LC), land productivity dynamics (LPD) and soil organic carbon (SOC). Here, we report on trends in these sub-indicators for the Entity Republic of Srpska (RS) as a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a key analysis to inform the frame of reference or baseline conditions for the region to evaluate LDN across this region. Global data for LC for the RS indicates a 0.5% loss of forests (6400 ha) over the time period from 2000 to 2010. Of this area, 5000 ha were converted to cropland and an additional 1400 ha was converted to shrubs, grasslands and sparsely vegetated areas. LPD declined over 2.5% (63,500 ha) of the region. SOC declined on land use changed areas by 15.6% (74,609 Mg ha−1) over the same time period. Based on global data, we estimated that 3% of the country is in a degraded state. Based on interviews with local stakeholders in 31 local communities, the primary land degradation drivers were identified and validated by team experts. Depopulation and migration to urban centers were identified as the important underlying drivers of land degradation that most municipalities are facing. The most frequent direct drivers of land degradation across this region were land abandonment, floods, drought, erosion and urbanization. Land abandonment, more specifically, has resulted in conversion of agriculturally productive lands to lands dominated by a wide range of invasive species over the last 25 years. Continued land degradation is underpinned by the lack of understanding by stakeholders of the importance of land as a resource. In evaluating the status, trends and drivers of land degradation for this region, we have identified key areas or “hot spots” that may be targeted for restoration options and may be used to achieve LDN targets by 2030.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-27
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Challenges
  • Hot spots
  • Indicators
  • LDN target
  • Opportunities
  • Trends


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