Home 2. Assessment with indicators Desertification risk assessment

Desertification risk assessment tool

Stage 4 in the process of linking desertification and land degradation indicators to land use practices


Effective land desertification protection requires both appropriate land management practices and macro policy approaches that promote sustainability of ecosystem services. It is preferable for actions to focus on protection or prevention rather than on rehabilitation of desertified areas since such areas are usually at high stage of land degradation and the expected profitability of applying measures is low.


The priority for land users is to apply appropriate land management practices to protect the productivity of sensitive areas to desertification and thus prevent active degradation processes.


A number of indicators have been shown to be important in affecting land degradation processes or causes. Many of the indicators are for properties that cannot easily altered at farm level (such as Soil depth, Slope gradient and Rainfall seasonality). However, indicators related to land management (such as No tillage, Storage of water runoff, and Grazing control) can be changed by the farmer.


 A Desertification Risk Assessment Tool has been designed to enable users to

  • analyse a wide range of alternatives for land management practices for reducing land desertification risk;
  • evaluate and select the most important indicators through which desertification risk may be assessed in a variety of locales worldwide;
  • develop a consensus among various groups (such as politicians, managers and experts) when assessing desertification risks.


Example use of the Assessment tool: An area of hillside is used by two different farmers for grazing under different regimes. The land on the left of the fence is overgrazed, while that on the right is sustainably grazed. Climate, topography, soil, and vegetation type characteristics are the same in both sides. By introducing all the appropriate indicators in the methodology for pastures, the  desertification risk index (DRI) calculated for the left side is 5.4 (very high), and for the right side is 4.4 (high). 


Comparisons of maps of DRI produced from the Assessment Tool with those of degree of land degradation for the same area produced from the WOCAT QM shows that both methods identify the same areas as either having a high DRI or state of degradation. This gives users flexibility in their choice of mapping methods, according to the amount of data they have available to use.


»Using indicators to identify best management practices The most important land management practices to protect and prevent desertification from water erosion, tillage erosion, soil salinisation, water stress, overgrazing and forest fires are identified.
»Desertification Risk Assessment Tool The PC version.
»Using the Desertification Risk Assessment Tool Examples of the use of the Assessment Tool to map Desertification Risk Index in five of the DESIRE study sites.
»Evaluating the Desertification Risk Assessment Tool with experimental results. Using DESIRE's local field experiment results  in the desertification risk assessment tool, identify bottlenecks and give advice for future development of the tool.
# Article Title
1 Using indicators to indentify best management practices
2 Desertification Risk Assessment Tool
3 Using the Desertification Risk Assessment Tool
4 Evaluating the Desertification Risk Assessment Tool with experimental results


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