The purpose of the project is to develop, test and refine
sustainability indicators and information tools in a user-friendly geographic information
system (GIS) interface, for integrating rural sustainability considerations into
policy-making and planning and improve environmental management at different scales in
Central America countries.
The project has two main objectives:
- Develop, test, and refine environmental, land quality, and other related indicators and
information tools in a user-friendly geographic information system interface, for the
integration of rural sustainability considerations into policy-making and planning, and
- Improve environmental management at the regional, national, and local levels in Central
The project has a number of key features:
- it uses GIS in a user-friendly way;
- it uses data available from national government institutions;
- all the data and tools are distributed to a large number of national institutes;
- a consultative process was used throughout the project to increase "buy-in"
and local ownership of the results; and
- key project outputs are being disseminated widely.
This project is a highly collaborative effort. Not only have the three major partners
worked closely together in the development and execution of the project, but there has
also been extensive consultation with the countries in Central America. The generous
support of the Government of Denmark, and additional support from the Governments of
Norway and Sweden, are also gratefully acknowledged.
There is a need in Central America, at the regional and national levels, to integrate
environmental, economic and social concerns into the development decision-making process,
to improve policies and their implementation, and to monitor and report the national and
regional state of the environment and development process, on a regular basis.
Although economic and social indicators have been widely adopted and routinely
influence national, regional and global policy decisions, comparable indicators to assess,
monitor and evaluate changes and impact in the state and quality of land resources and the
environment, are lacking. Effective indicators must fit a coherent conceptual and
analytical framework covering different aspects of the environment and the development
processes, as well as to be used at different scales (regional, national and local) and
levels (administrative and ecological).
In Central American countries, the agricultural sector constitutes approximately 15-20%
of the regional GDP, 40 % of the regional labour force and agricultural exports represent
25-30 % of total regional exports. Although natural resources constitute one of the main
bases for development, rural poverty and environmental and land degradation are
characteristic of the region.
In Central America 60 % (10 million people) of the region's poor live in rural areas,
incrementing the poverty cycle, causing severe soil degradation, deforestation, and the
advance of the agriculture frontier.
- Because of deforestation and land use change, 350.000 to 400.000 hectares of forestland
are annually converted and 40-60 % of the soils are either eroded or degraded.
- At the same time 30% of the total regional land is used for livestock activities; while
only 15-20 % of that land is potentially for livestock use.
- Domesticated, as well as non-domesticated lands are under increasing pressure because of
increasing population and demands for services and products from a fixed natural resources
base, increasing use of marginal lands, and scarce resources and intensification of
agriculture on existing cultivated and pasture lands.
- Land degradation and mis-management are threatening regional opportunities and the
flexibility for increasing services for land and the environment.
Because of the complexity of the situation, socio-economic, as well as environmental
and Land Quality Indicators (LQIs) are needed to expand our knowledge and understanding of
rural development, land management and environmental degradation, in managed and natural
ecosystems, in order to provide timely and relevant information and guidance to policy
decision makers. The development of user-friendly tools and the utilisation of common
indicator frameworks will facilitate not only the transformation of data into relevant
information, but also the formulation of strategies for end-use and access to good and
useful data and information.
The project uses the following methodology:
- Development of a conceptual framework;
- Selection of indicators and exploration of analytical tools;
- Establishment of a consultative network;
- Data search and development of databases;
- Development of tools for analysis and visualisation of information;
- Carrying out case studies; and
- Dissemination of tools and information.
More information on the methodology can be found in the downloadable booklet "Developing Indicators Lessons Learned from Central
Manuel Winograd - Project Coordinator
Andrew Farrow - GIS and modelling
Marta Aguilar - Data Management and Regional Links
Kasper Kok - Consultant (Wageningen University)
From The World Bank:
John Dixon - Lead Environmental Economist
Lisa Segnestam- Environmental Economist
Michael Linddal- Environmental Economist
From UNEP - Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean:
Norberto Fernandez - Regional Coordinator Environmental Information, Assessment and