GRÓ Land Restoration Training Programme (GRÓ LRT) is part of the GRÓ International Centre for Capacity Development and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Societal Change, a UNESCO Category 2 Centre based in Iceland. GRÓ LRT has a strong commitment to the principles of UNESCO, including education and science.


GRÓ LRT creates and shares knowledge and strengthens capacity in low and middle income countries with the aim of solving pressing global challenges related to management and restoration of land and ecosystems.

GRÓ LRT works within the scope of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other international conventions relating to environmental preservation and the alleviation of poverty, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD).

GRÓ LRT works directly toward the UN Sustainable Development Goal no. 15: protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15). Simultaneously we work toward many other SDGs, as achieving SDG 15 will help mitigate and adapt to climate change (SDG 13), alleviate poverty (SDG 1), increase food security and end hunger (SDG 2) and foster sustainable production (SDG 12), as well as increasing the resilience of ecosystems and societies to future challenges.


GRÓ LRT is built on the knowledge and expertise gained in Iceland, which faced severe land degradation problems in the beginning of the 20th century. Nationally coordinated efforts aimed at halting soil erosion and restoring lost and degraded woodlands have been in place in Iceland for over 100 years, which has created a considerable body of knowledge and experience. This knowledge and experience are of great relevance to many countries in all parts of the world facing similar challenges


Core values

  • Sustainability: solutions for today’s complex issues must consider the needs of future generations. GRÓ LRT applies principles of sustainability to all aspects of its educational and research activities.
  • Cooperation: partnership is key to sustainable development. GRÓ LRT cooperates with individuals and institutions that play an important role in sustainable land management and restoration in low and middle income countries.
  • Gender equality: unequal societies are inherently unsustainable. GRÓ LRT promotes gender equality in sustainable land management by integrating gender equality perspectives and gender-sensitive capacity building into its training initiatives.

What we do

GRÓ LRT partners with institutions that play a significant role in land restoration and sustainable land management in low and middle income countries.

GRÓ LRT offers postgraduate-level training in restoration of degraded land and sustainable land management for working professionals in its partner countries.

GRÓ LRT provides fellows with a holistic and meaningful perspective on sustainable land management and restoration through an interdisciplinary approach, drawing expertise from academia, research, and practitioners.

GRÓ LRT’s core activity is an annual six-month postgraduate level training in Iceland. Through the six-month programme, GRÓ LRT works towards strengthening capacity of our partner institutions in low and middle income countries.

GRÓ LRT provides financial and technical support to develop and deliver short courses in partner countries. These courses are designed and delivered in cooperation with specialists from GRÓ LRT and our partner institutions, often engaging the expertise of former fellows.

GRÓ LRT offers scholarships to former fellows, who have completed the six-month training, to pursue graduate studies at Icelandic universities in land restoration and related subjects.

GRÓ LRT participates in conferences related to issues of land restoration and sustainable land management. This is done through planning and participating in symposia and workshops, and through support for former fellows to present their work in regional and international forums.

Who we are

GRÓ LRT is implemented jointly by the Agricultural University of Iceland and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland. GRÓ LRT builds on a wide range of knowledge and expertise in our partners in Iceland and abroad.

GRÓ LRT is funded by the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs as a part of Iceland’s international development cooperation. The Programme was launched in 2007 and was a United Nations University Programme from 2010 to 2019. On 1 January 2020, the Programme became a part of GRÓ, a UNESCO Category 2 Centre in Iceland.

Implementing institutions

The Agricultural University of Iceland (AUI) has a long history of research related to assessment of land condition, grazing management, soil erosion and conservation, and land restoration; all areas that reflect the national priority to combat land degradation and restore degraded ecosystems. AUI is also involved in international climate change research, focusing on both ecosystem carbon flux and carbon sequestration in relation to reclamation and land use change.

The Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI) was founded in 1907. SCSI’s main tasks include combating desertification, sand encroachment and other soil erosion, along with promotion of sustainable land use and reclamation, and restoration of degraded land. SCSI works on different levels, including policy making and research, extension services, and management of large and small-scale reclamation projects. SCSI improves understanding of problems and explores innovative solutions through education, participatory approaches, and policy advice.

GRÓ LRT runs its six-month training programme at the AUI teaching and research facilities in Reykjavik and at SCSI headquarters in South Iceland. AUI and SCSI offer a solid learning and training environment for the fellows and provide numerous experts in the fields of GRÓ LRT.