UNU-LRT is funded by the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs but the executing agency with financial responsibility for the programme is the Agricultural University of Iceland (AUI). The programme is implemented jointly by the AUI and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI).
The 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 desertification. 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 SCSI has its headquarters at Gunnarsholt, South Iceland, but operates district offices in most parts of Iceland. The main goals are mitigation of land degradation and desertification, restoration of degraded land, ecosystem protection and sustainable land use. Tools include improved understanding of the problems and solutions, education and advice, enhanced land user responsibility and participatory approaches, and regulatory tools. Support schemes include the highly successful Farmers Heal the Land and Land Improvement Fund projects, which reflect an increasing focus on land user and community involvement. The SCSI also has direct involvement in reclamation work. The institute has well supported professional facilities, including remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) tools, and it operates processing facilities for seeds of species used in reclamation work.
The six-month training programme is run at the AUI research facilities at Keldnaholt in Reykjavik and the SCSI headquarters at Gunnarsholt. The AUI and the 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 degraded and desertified land; land use and restoration planning; sustainable grazing management (open land, rangelands) and soil conservation.