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Experts from African biosphere reserves graduate from land restoration course

On 14 September, Peace Amarachi Ukoha and Leonard Gondwe graduated from GRÓ’s six-month training programme in Iceland on land restoration and sustainable land management.
Peace Amarachi Ukoha and Leonard Gondwe graduated from GRÓ’s six-month training programme in Iceland on land restoration and sustainable land management

Peace has been working in Oban Biosphere Reserve in Nigeria on secondment from the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria and sits on her country’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) National Committee. Leonard works in Mont Mulanje Biosphere Reserve in Malawi.

They are the first two fellows from the MAB network to be awarded a fellowship to GRÓ’s annual six-month postgraduate Land Restoration Training Programme. A specialist centre in Iceland which operates under the auspices of UNESCO, GRÓ intends to offer the MAB network two fellowships each year from now on.

UNESCO serves as the interface between GRÓ and the MAB national committees in each country. For this first edition, UNESCO advertised the call for applications then worked with MAB national committees to identify nominees.

Starting in 2022, graduates will not only receive the GRÓ Land Restoration Training Programme Certificate of Completion but also a Postgraduate Diploma in Ecosystem Restoration and Sustainable Land Management from the Faculty of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the Agricultural University of Iceland.

A programme divided into two courses

GRÓ has custom-built its programme for professionals from countries facing severe land degradation. It is divided into two academic courses. The first is entitled Ecosystem Restoration and Sustainable Land Management. This course takes the form of lectures, practical training, field visits, exercises and group work. It covers ecological theories and biophysical processes and principles; principles and approaches in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating projects and interventions; as well as the socio-economic context of ecological restoration and sustainable land management.

The second course is entitled Individual Project in the Field of Ecosystem Restoration and Sustainable Land Management. It focuses on the development and execution of individual research projects on a topic of the fellow’s choice, under the supervision of an expert. This research work culminates in a written report and an oral presentation, with qualified research reports being published on the GRÓ website.

By the end of the six-month programme, the fellows should have acquired:

  • a comprehensive understanding of the issues that must be addressed to manage and restore land;
  • the knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate and interpret landscapes (land literacy);
  • an understanding of socio-economic drivers of land degradation, and the barriers that prevent the mitigation of land degradation;
  • the knowledge and skills necessary to design and implement ecologically sound restoration of degraded landscapes;
  • interpersonal and leadership skills necessary for participatory project planning, implementation and monitoring; and
  • an understanding of gender, ethical and policy aspects in the field of land restoration and sustainable land management.

The GRÓ International Centre for Capacity Development, Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Societal Change operates in Iceland under the auspices of UNESCO. The GRÓ Land Restoration Training Programme is funded by the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs as part of Iceland’s international development cooperation.

GRÖ’s annual six-month postgraduate Land Restoration Training Programme, Iceland
This year’s cohort of graduates proudly wave their diplomas on 14 September.
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