Home 1. Study site contexts & goals

Study site contexts & goals: local desertification extent and impact Print

Research theme coordinator: ISRIC – World Soil Information


Across the globe all areas prone to desertification have some similar features. Without the buffer of abundant rain or deep soils, agriculture tends to be more vulnerable to water availiabilty and care needs to be taken that any land use activity does not impoverish the land and reduce its productivity. However, to some extent, each area also responds uniquely to the threat of desertification. Responses depend on the details of the local soil type, topography and climate; on the social, economic and land use history; on the goals that the local people have for the future of their area; and of course on how degraded the land has already become.


The DESIRE project worked in 18 such similar but unique areas (we called them study sites), with the objective of identifying in each sustainable land management strategies that are tailored to their particular local context and goals.


This research theme sets the scientific work of DESIRE within the context of the existing body of knowledge, and examines the particular local context of each study site.


More details ...
The research theme is developed in five stages
»Stage 1: Information review. Numerous studies have been undertaken to assess and/or model the extent and impact of desertification in the Mediterranean region and more widely. These studies have investigated different aspects of degradation and desertification, including the physical processes, the socio-economical and political drivers, and the consequences of desertification. This information review describes the background knowledge on which DESIRE builds.
»Stage 2: DESIRE's study sites. A detailed exploration of the local biophysical, socio-economic, institutional and political contexts of each study site.
»Stage 3: Desertification drivers & the policy context. The identification of the processes and factors driving desertification in each study site, and the policies and agreements in place to counteract it.
»Stage 4: Stakeholders & their sustainability goals. The identification of key stakeholders in each study site, together with their goals for the sustainable management of their area.
»Stage 5: Mapping desertification extent. WOCAT's method of sustainable land management mapping used in each site to map:
  • what type of land degradation is happening, where and why, and
  • what forms of land conservation practices are being used.



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The DESIRE project was 
co-funded by the
European Commission,
Global Change and
Contract no: 037046 GOCE

DESIRE brought together the expertise of
26 international research institutes
and non-governmental organisations.

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