Community-based approach in Erosion Control [Azerbaijan]

Ismayilly district, Ehen community

approaches_5571 - Azerbaijan

Completeness: 100%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Integrated Biodiversity Management, South Caucasus (IBiS)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Reference(s) to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Technologies

2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

The unsustainable use of pastures and forest areas leads to erosion, degradation, desertification and loss of biodiversity in high mountain areas of the South Caucasus. In the village Ehen in the Ismayilli district in Azerbaijan, a community-based approach for erosion control was developed in a participative way. Together with village stakeholders, different measures were developed to stop erosive processes, flooding and to rehabilitate vegetation cover.

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan togehter witht the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) selected integrated erosion control as a priority in their cooperation and the district Ismayilli was choosen for the implementation of pilot activities.
The district Ismayilli covers an area of about 2.158 km². Approximately 31% of the territory is covered with forest. Pasture lands on slopes are particularly exposed to vegetation degradation due to overgrazing. The loss of a closed vegetation cover on mountain slopes can lead to severe soil erosion due to surface water runoff. The project team together with the district administration decided to set the focus on the village Ehen near Lahic.

The approach chosen for integrated erosion control in Ehen was a community-based approach. Together with stakeholders, the most severe erosion sites were identified, and a list of priorities was developed. In cooperation with international experts, different technologies and practices were developed to stop erosion processes. Several preconditions for the development of a number of practices were set: The technologies should be cost-effective and affordable for the villagers, and the villagers should be able to use them without the use of external technicians. In order to achieve this, particular emphasis was placed on the application of bio-engineering measures. Measures were applied on degraded pasture lands and erosion gullies in the pilot community at the south slope of the Great Caucasus.

As a first step, the implementation sites were determined through joint field visits by village representatives and experts ('Screening mission'). In the first face the GIZ-team and the SLM-experts have been introduced to the village community. In this phase, the national GIZ project coordinator had the major role to create a basis of respect and trust to enable a positive athomisphere for an open minded discussion. The driving factors of deforestation and overgrazing were discussed in the field, and the potential intervention sites were marked with colour spray and wooden poles in the field. The marking in the field instead of only working with printed maps was very important for the recognition, discussion and acceptance of the sites by all villagers. There was a gap of several weeks between marking and implementation, which provided enough time for internal discussion about the site selection and the adaptation of boundaries.

Nine degraded pastures and forest land sites were selected by the village stakeholders togehter witht the SLM specialists. Four sites are located above the village with the risk of increasing rockfall and flooding by surface water runoff. Five sites are located below the village and were selected to ensure the productivity of the land. For providing tree seedlings, a local tree nursery was established near the school (10th site). One site was selected to combine effects by establishing a hazelnut plantation to stop erosion, increase vegetation cover and provide an income generation opportunity.
Two sites with gully erosion were selected: a site above the village with the risk of flooding into the village and a site below the village along the road with a high risk of road damage if the deepening process continues (detailed instructions on measures can be found at the internet links attached).
Regular meetings took place between the traditional administrative community board, the GIZ-project team and the SLM experts to discuss the implementation process and to evaluate together the results. The availability of local resources was taken into consideration to adapt technologies to fit the local needs. New ideas, localy available materials and technologies have beein integrated into the implementation process by the local stakeholders.
The implementation of the measures was done mainly by the local village people and local experts. The SLM experts provided 'hands-on-training' and all materials that were not available in the village as well external experts were financed by the project.

Another essential aspect is the sustainable use of well-managed meadows by different stakeholders (beekeepers, wild herb collectors, orchard owners and others) in the community. This includes the agreement (rule) of the community to share the protected pastures and to consider the needs of all interest groups. The decission of the profit sharing is taken by the taditional administrative community board. A further factor was the establishment of a tree nursery, which led to an increased motivation to plant additional trees (especially fruit trees) in the community.

2.3 Photos of the Approach

General remarks regarding photos:

The soil condition is very poor regarding humus.

2.4 Videos of the Approach

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied



Region/ State/ Province:

Ehen village

Further specification of location:

DIistrict Ismayilli


The pilot sites belong to Ehen village within the district Ismayilli.

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:


If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date when the Approach was initiated:

less than 10 years ago (recently)

Year of termination (if Approach is no longer applied):



At the 10 locations of the village Ehen the implementation of the approach took place in the years 2016-2018.

2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

Develop erosion control measures that can be implemented by village population without significant investment. The measures are addressed to rehabilitate vegetation on eroded sites and to slow down water speed and erosive energy where gullies already exist. This should help protect roads and other infrastructure as well as stop soil loss and increase overall productivity.

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

social/ cultural/ religious norms and values
  • enabling

Local population tend to save resources such as forest and pasture surrounding their village. Residents, especially women collect wild plants to use in daily life. Furthermore, selling collected wild plants in the market, residents earn income.

availability/ access to financial resources and services
  • enabling

Most of the activities (fencing, willow fascines, pilewalls, gabion or wooden check dams) only need small-scale financial investments. Only the drip irrigation system for the hazelnut orchard needed significant external investment, and the return of the investment cannot be expected before 10 years. Such an investment would have been impossible for the village community without external support.

institutional setting
  • enabling

The Community Management Group was established at the early stage of the project.

collaboration/ coordination of actors
  • enabling

Pilot activities are implemented in cooperation with local decision makers and communities. The active involvement of the village people in the implementation works was a hands-on training.

legal framework (land tenure, land and water use rights)
  • hindering

The forest’s legal protection does not allow timber or poles to be taken from the forest for the construction of pile walls or wooden check dams. The poles had to be imported and transferred to the village. A balanced sustainable forest management would enable village people to make use of the local timber and would encourage people to establish forest areas.

  • enabling

The Azerbaijan policy to establish more than 2000ha of hazelnut orchard in the district of Ismayilli supports the decision to establish hazelnut orchards on eroded sites as a control measure.

land governance (decision-making, implementation and enforcement)
  • enabling

Pilot sites are located in municipality land. Community members and local authority decided the border of pilot sites.

knowledge about SLM, access to technical support
  • enabling

Residents have some initial knowledge of sustainable land management. Implementing pilot activities their information is developed.

markets (to purchase inputs, sell products) and prices
  • enabling

Collected wild plants are sold in the market located next to Ehen village.

workload, availability of manpower
  • enabling

The manpower is available in the village

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • local land users/ local communities

Livestock farmers, shepherds, smallholder farms and women that were loosely organised.

Selection of sites for intervention, providing labour during implementation of measure, local hay residuals provided by farmers for testing the measure, maintenance of drip irrigation and electric fence of the hazelnut orchards.

  • SLM specialists/ agricultural advisers

International and national specialists have been integrated.

The SLM specialist elaborated in close cooperation with the local stakeholders the implementation concept.

  • researchers

Researcher from the Agrarian University in Ganja.

  • local government

Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Ismayilli District Administration

Numerous pilot activities (test and demonstrate the most appropriate actions and raise awareness of the community on the long-term socio- economic and environmental benefits of the pilot actions) have been implemented In cooperation with local government in Ehen municipality.

3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation none The selection of Ismayilli district was done at Ministry level. The selection of the villages was done with district administration and experts assessment of erosion problems.
planning interactive The site selection was done with local village stakeholders. The technical planning was done by external experts. Four additional municipalities were assessed for hazelnut plantations where local land users provided data.
implementation interactive Local stakeholders trained on bioengineering measures. The following measures were applied during hands-on training: 1. Wooden check-dam. 2. Gabion check-dam. 3. Willow-fascines. 4. Electric-Fencing. 5.Pile walls. 6.Drip irrigation system.
monitoring/ evaluation interactive An external monitoring team (project team) did the monitoring in a participative way. The observations and monitoring results were discussed with the village stakeholders.

3.3 Flow chart (if available)


This flow chart gives an overview on the different roles of project participants (Ministry and GIZ, the national experts and SLM specialists as well as the local stakeholders) and the actions implementented by them jointly or seperately.

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Specify who decided on the selection of the Technology/ Technologies to be implemented:
  • mainly SLM specialists, following consultation with land users

The integrated erosion control measures were developed by SLM specialists, while site selection and prioritization were done in conjunction with village community representatives.

Specify on what basis decisions were made:
  • research findings
  • personal experience and opinions (undocumented)

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?


Specify who was trained:
  • land users
  • field staff/ advisers
If relevant, specify gender, age, status, ethnicity, etc.

Only men have been involved in the training of the application of the erosion control measures.

Form of training:
  • on-the-job
  • demonstration areas
Subjects covered:

Construction of willow fascines, pill walls, wooden check dams, gabion check dams, tree planting, fence construction (electric fence, mesh wire fence), construction and maintenance of drip irrigation system.


In addition to the on-the-job training, an Austrian study tour was provided for Georgian participants. The focus of the joint study tour was to enable a direct experience of current practices in the Alps giving the participants an impression how the issue of land management and erosion control is handled in mountainous areas of Austria.

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?


Specify whether advisory service is provided:
  • on land users' fields
Describe/ comments:

The field trip provided advice and training on afforestation and tree species selection.

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • yes, moderately
Specify the level(s) at which institutions have been strengthened or established:
  • local
  • regional
  • national
Describe institution, roles and responsibilities, members, etc.

The implementation capacity of line ministries, their subordinate bodies and of training institutions regarding the management of biodiversity and ecosystem services is improved. The regional exchange on sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystem services is improved.

Specify type of support:
  • capacity building/ training
Give further details:

Capacities in project planning, implementation and monitoring have been developed. Awareness raising on erosion-caused land degradation and effective, cost-efficient erosion control measures have been applied.

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?



In 2018, monitoring was carried out on the implemented measures in order to assess if additional interventions would be required or if measures had been damaged. Permanent monitoring plots have been established to assess the rehabilitation of vegetation.

If yes, is this documentation intended to be used for monitoring and evaluation?



Monitoring reports have been provided by field experts (Azeri) and international experts (English) and are available from GIZ IBiS office.

4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?


5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

Indicate the annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach in US$:


If precise annual budget is not known, indicate range:
  • 10,000-100,000
Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

In the framework of the GIZ-program “Integrated Biodiversity Management, South Caucasus” (2015-2019), implemented on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
the amount covers: fencing, electric fensing, hay, pile walls, afforestation, wooden check dams, gabion check dams, other materials and labour on the sites of Ehen.

5.2 Financial/ material support provided to land users

Did land users receive financial/ material support for implementing the Technology/ Technologies?


If yes, specify type(s) of support, conditions, and provider(s):

Land users were provided materials for erosion control measures and tree nursery. The timber for the pile walls, the mesh wire fence and the electric fencing material as well as well as tanks for rain water collection (for the tree nursery) and irrigation equipment was provided. The local stakeholders provided man power for the mainance of fences and irrigation system and maintaining the tree nursery for free. Workpower for setting up infrastructures like gabions or chech damms was paid.

5.3 Subsidies for specific inputs (including labour)

  • labour
To which extent Specify subsidies
fully financed Only the construction of technical infrastructure (fence, check dams, irrigation system was paid. Maintenance work was not paid.
  • agricultural
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
tree nursery fully financed Equipment (fence, water tanks, irrigation system, tools) have been financed. Seeds have been provided by locals.
  • construction
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
wood partly financed Timber for pile walls was bought and provided, branches for willow fence and fascines was contributed by locals.
If labour by land users was a substantial input, was it:
  • rewarded with other material support

Fruit trees and walnut trees have been contributed by the project for the afforestation on site 1 near the village.

5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?


5.5 Other incentives or instruments

Were other incentives or instruments used to promote implementation of SLM Technologies?


If yes, specify:

For the implementation of the pilot measures in Ehen, material and payment for labour was provided. There have been some follow up activities in neighboring villages where only the material was provided, as the work was done voluntarily.

6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach empower local land users, improve stakeholder participation?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The application of easy-to-use measures for erosion control enabled local land users to arrange land management and erosion control measures by themselves without relying on significant external support. The pilot actions in the village Ehen are used as a showcase for the neighbouring villages.

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

As a result of the on-the-job training, most of the activities (fencing, pile walls, hay mulch application, wooden and gabion check dams) can now be implemented by the local village stakeholders without external support.

Did the Approach mobilize/ improve access to financial resources for SLM implementation?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

International funds were accessible for the village community and other international donors funded measures in the same village.

Did the Approach improve knowledge and capacities of land users to implement SLM?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The involvement of local stakeholders in all stages of planning, site selection and implementation improved capacity and knowledge. It was very important that the work was done mainly by local village people and not by external companies.

Did the Approach improve knowledge and capacities of other stakeholders?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

University experts and district-level technicians participated in the planning and implementation. They can act as knowledge hubs.

Did the Approach mitigate conflicts?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly
Did the Approach lead to improved food security/ improved nutrition?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly
Did the Approach improve access to markets?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly
Did the Approach lead to employment, income opportunities?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Villagers have reported that the improved vegetation in the fenced areas led to significantly higher honey harvest and herb collection for marketing on the bazaar of Lahic village.

Protection from national hazards:
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

All gabions at the sites in Ehen are functioning well and show the impact of the gully deepening and the wash out at the lower (downhill) end of the gabion. Reduced water speed and the stabilised river bed helped to save the road.

Economic impact and improvement of livelihoods via ECM (Erosion control measures):
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

In the pilot sites, main economic activities are haymaking, the collection of wild plants, beekeeping and harvesting of nuts (hazelnuts and walnuts). Since there is no more overgrazing in the pilot areas, the plant’s biodiversity is expected to continue increasing, so the bees tend to pollinate more often in these areas. Conducted analyses during the project show that local population would benefit from 97.770 AZN per hectare (97.770 AZN = 57.334,7 USD (as per 01.10.2018)) in the period of 15 years because of the net income coming from beekeeping, haymaking, the collection of wild plants and harvesting of hazelnuts.

Sustainable Land Use:
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The approach helps to mitigate land degradation by surface erosion. Hay making, forestry and hazelnut production have been supported as alternative land use on the rehabilitated land. Up until now, only pilot measures have been implemented on limited areas of the village area.

6.2 Main motivation of land users to implement SLM

  • increased production

Improved vegetation, soil fertility and productivity of the land.

  • increased profit(ability), improved cost-benefit-ratio

The planting of hazelnut trees addressed reduction of erosion and as a second priority the production of hazelnuts for economic purposes.

  • reduced land degradation

Pasture lands on slopes which were exposed to the degradation of vegetation caused by overgrazing. Now grazing is blocked by fencing, and the land use was changed to either hay production, forest or hazelnut production.

  • reduced risk of disasters

Gully erosion parallel to the road and further erosion of the gully’s left side which led to destruction of the road. The villagers are reporting that no rock falls and flooding were observed in the years 2017 and 2018 after the application of measures on site 1 above the village.

  • environmental consciousness
  • enhanced SLM knowledge and skills

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • yes
If yes, describe how:

Local stakeholders trained on building and applying measures. The measures (fencing, pile walls, wooden and gabion check dams) are low-cost and can easily be replicated by village stakeholders. Only the drip irrigation system and electric fencing for the hazelnut orchard needs high investment and might not be up-scaled without external support.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
The integration of local stakeholders in the selection of measures and sites helped to address the most 'urgent' problems from the villagers view.
It was important to have visual results from the work in a short time. Especially the reduction of flooding was a very positive result as well as the increased number of flowering plants which led to an increase of honey and tea production, which created additional income. Some of the trained techniques have been already transferred by villagers to neighbouring communities.
Most of the beneficiaries see the hazelnut plantation area as a potential source of income in the future and at the same time as a useful measurement for rehabilitation of the biodiversity and measure against erosion.
Land users see the implementation of the measures on the site as contribution to the future tourism perspective of the village.
The pilot measure is cost-efficient and affordable for local people. It has a positive ratio of cost/benefit.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Measures are easily implemented and materials (mesh wire, willows, seedlings) are available locally.
The measures are showing significant impacts in a short time. The rehabilitation of vegetation and the gathering of sediments halting gully deepening is already visible in the first year after implementation.
As there is still enough pasture land available and the areas of intervention have been implemented on degraded land, there was no major conflict with shepherds and farmers.

6.5 Weaknesses/ disadvantages of the Approach and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Low capacity of the municipality was limiting to the management of the drip irrigation and the electric fence. Handing over the hazelnut orchard to a private cooperative could increase ownership and personal involvement of local stakeholders in orchard maintenance. A long-term business plan and financing model needs to be developed if the approach is to be up-scaled.
Current electric fence of hazelnut plantation is not efficient in protecting area from free roaming animals.
It also reflects on the inefficiency of the overseer`s working time, as he spends entire working hours on the controlling the fence which reduces his time on spending on the additional activities like controlling plant growth and irrigation system.
Changing electrical fence to the ordinary mesh fence or wire fence.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Because of a general ban on forest management, the timber used for pile walls and wooden check dams cannot be extracted from the local forest. Timber and logs have to be bought from foreign markets. An adaptation of laws on the legal extraction of local timber for certain purpose would be helpful.
Hazel needs more than 750 mm annual precipitation. Humidity above 60% in June and July is beneficial. A strong wind is a danger for young trees. Ehen has 500-700m precipitation and significant summer drought. A drip irrigation system was applied to overcome summer drought in the first couple of years until seedlings have established a sufficient root system to access water from deeper soil layers.
The electric fencing and the drip irrigation for the hazelnut plantation and fruit tree plantations above the village need expensive investment and specific skills for mounting and maintenance. Project investment was used for pilot measures as a demonstration site. The hazelnut orchard can show a positive return on investment within 10-15 years if managed well.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys

Five field visits by international experts. Frequent field visits by national field expert provided by GIZ.

  • interviews with land users

Intensive meetings and discussions on the current land use and opportunities of alternative land use forms have been applied.

  • compilation from reports and other existing documentation

Six mission reports are available. Results have been compiled in a handbook on integrated erosion control and information leaflets ("BioTopics").

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Planning meetings, site visit and stakeholder meeting, Hanns Kirchmeir, Azerbaijan 2017.

Available from where? Costs?

Report based on field vists

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Hazelnut plantations on eroded sites in Ismayilli, Hanns Kirchmeir, 2017

Available from where? Costs?

Concept based on surveys and field visits

7.3 Links to relevant information which is available online

Title/ description:

Synthesis Report on Erosion control measures 2014-2017


Title/ description:

Handbook on Integrated Erosion Control


Links and modules

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