The Land Restoration Training Programme (LRT) is a part of the GRÓ Centre, the International Centre for Capacity Development – Sustainable use of Natural Resources and Societal Change, which is a UNESCO Category 2 Centre based in Iceland. LRT has a strong commitment to the principles of UNESCO, particularly education and science. LRT contributes to resolving urgent global challenges through generating and sharing knowledge and strengthening capacity in developing countries. The Programme strongly relates to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other international conventions that deal with environmental preservation and the alleviation of poverty, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). Furthermore, the Programme contributes directly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15), take urgent actions against climate change (SDG 13), end extreme poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2), ensuring access of quality education (SDG 4), promoting gender equality (SDG 5) and ensuring sustainable production (SDG 12).


LRT core values

  • Sustainability: today’s problems have to be addressed in a way that fulfils the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations. LRT applies principles of sustainability to all aspects of its educational and research activities.
  • Cooperation: LRT strengthens cooperation between individuals and partner institutions that play a key role in land restoration and sustainable land management in developing countries.
  • Gender equality: LRT promotes gender equality in the field of land restoration and sustainable land management through gender-sensitive capacity building. This is done by integrating gender equality perspectives into the Programme organization and training activities.

What we do

LRT works with partner institutions that have been identified as playing a significant role in land restoration and sustainable land management in developing countries. The Programme offers postgraduate-level training in restoration of degraded land and sustainable land management for working professionals in those countries. As an interdisciplinary Programme, LRT draws expertise from academia, researchers and practitioners to provide fellows with a holistic and meaningful perspective on land restoration and sustainable land management.

The core activity of LRT is the six-month training programme held each year in Iceland. The training of the fellows is considered a contribution to strengthening institutional capacity of our partner institutions in developing countries.

In addition, LRT provides financial and technical support to develop and deliver short courses in partner countries. These courses are designed and run in cooperation between specialists from LRT and the partner institutions, often engaging the expertise of former fellows.

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

LRT participates in conferences related to issues of land restoration and sustainable land management through planning and attending symposiums and workshops, as well as supporting former fellows to present their work.

Who we are

LRT is implemented jointly by the  Agricultural University of Iceland and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, and builds on the knowledge and expertise of different partners by liaising with a wide range of Icelandic and international institutions and organisations.

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

Implementing institutions

The Agricultural University of Iceland (AUI) is founded on previous research and educational institutes with a long history of research related to assessment of land condition, grazing management, soils and soil erosion, soil conservation research and land restoration; all emphases that reflect national priority to combat land degradation and restore degraded ecosystems. The university 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. It has its headquarters at Gunnarsholt, South Iceland, but operates district offices in most parts of Iceland. The main tasks of the SCSI include combating desertification, sand encroachment and other soil erosion, promotion of sustainable land use and reclamation and restoration of degraded land. The work is on different levels, from policy making and research, to extension services and management of large- and small-scale reclamation projects. Tools include improved understanding of the problems and solutions, education and advice, enhanced land user responsibility and participatory approaches, and regulatory tools.

LRT runs the six-month training programme at the AUI research facilities at Keldnaholt in Reykjavik and the SCSI headquarters in Gunnarsholt. AUI and SCSI offer a solid learning and training environment for the fellows by, for example, providing numerous experts in the field of: soil erosion, desertification processes and assessment methods; the ecology of degradation processes; restoration ecology with focus on severely degraded land; land use and restoration planning; sustainable grazing management (open land, rangelands) and soil conservation.