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Home arrow Working blocks arrow Work Block 1: Environmental and Socio-Economical Context
Work Block 1: Environmental and Socio-Economical Context PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joost   
Coordinator: 17 - ISRIC, World Soil Information, NL
Participants: 1,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,15,16,18,19, 20,21,22,23,24,26,27,28

Objectives
a)    Review relevant existing information sources and methods
b)    Assess the environmental and socio-economic context
c)    Identify, evaluate and prioritize land degradation drivers and the policy context
d)    Identify relevant stakeholders and sustainability goals

General information
Numerous studies have been undertaken to assess and/or model the extent and impact of desertification in the Mediterranean region or broader. These studies have investigated different aspects of degradation and desertification, including studies into the physical processes that are operating, studies into the socio-economical and political drivers that cause desertification and studies on the consequences of desertification.
Regarding the processes that are operating, attention has been paid, a.o. to soil erosion, forest fires, vegetation degradation, climate change and salinisation. Of these processes, soil erosion probably received the most attention. It has been studied in many places around the Mediterranean, and also at multiple scales, ranging from plot studies to national and even continental estimates. To build upon existing information, DESIRE will make use of the knowledge that has already been gathered in the past. In particular, WB1 will assemble as much existing information as possible, from both within and outside the DESIRE consortium.
The DESIRE project encompasses a set of 18 hotspots around the globe (see Table 4.1) that each are affected by one or more desertification related problems. These areas have been under investigation by various partners within the consortium for a number of years. Inevitably, different methodologies are used and different types of information gathered. An important objective of this WB is to inventorize the areas and make a first series of desertification maps based on the available information.

WP 1.1 - Information review
As indicated above there is a wealth of information on desertification in Mediterranean areas. Relevant data from existing literature and information on the Internet will be compiled. Results obtained by previous projects will be gathered too. Annex 1 gives a selection of project and networks that are currently working, or were recently working, on desertification in the Mediterranean. In many of these projects and networks several of the partners of DESIRE were involved, thus ensuring easy access to the data. The combination of all this existing information will result in an overview of the current status of knowledge on desertification and land degradation in the Mediterranean region. A common list of required information to be collected and put in the HIS will be decided. This information inventory will benefit all other activities mentioned below, as well as the other working blocks.

WP 1.2 - Assessment and mapping
Existing assessment and mapping methods will be examined for their applicability in producing a desertification map of Mediterranean areas e.g. the methodology developed to define environmentally sensitive areas using key indicators in the MEDALUS III and DESERTLINKS projects. Furthermore, several countries have already derived a map at national scale showing areas sensitive to desertification. Different methods may complement each other and may use expert opinion, Remote Sensing and GIS or modeling. In close collaboration with WB3 partners, this map will also show areas where protection and restoration measures have been applied and with what degree of success. This assessment will enable us to put the study sites in a broader environmental and socio-economic context. There are many environmental and socio-economic factors that influence the occurrence and expansion of land degradation, as well as the rate of success of mitigating measures. These factors will be identified at the local level (field sites) and their relevance for application at regional level will be assessed. They will serve as input parameters for an appropriate model to incorporate and apply them in the search for solutions (see WBs 4 & 5).

WP 1.3 - Drivers and policy context
Drivers and barriers as well as opportunities will be assessed for each study site and their overall relevance will be examined. Policies themselves can be important drivers but also influence the impact of other drivers. In the EU context the Common Agriculture Policy reform and in particular the Water Framework Directive and the upcoming Soil Framework Directives will have a major influence on the ways to achieve sustainable agriculture in Europe. Facilitated discussion and multi-criteria evaluation in focus groups will be used to achieve this.

WP 1.4 - Stakeholder analysis and sustainability goals
The involvement of all stakeholders in problem analysis and search for solutions is now widely accepted by scientists and practitioners. An inventory of relevant stakeholders in the study areas can be achieved through a stakeholder mapping exercise, in which the “stakes” of various stakeholders can be assessed. The results of this inventory will be matched with the regional context and will help to identify key players and beneficiaries and also to focus other WBs (e.g. WB3, WB5).

Restoration of land degradation is often costly and labour-intensive. The benefits of mitigation measures should therefore outweigh the investments made. Sometimes restoring a severely degraded area is less cost-effective than prevention of (further) degradation in a much less degraded area, but the decision which measures to take where depends on the objectives of the various stakeholders and the intended land use. Taking measures to restore soil fertility in a soil suffering from nutrient depletion is not a sensible idea if the same land is intended for new construction activities. Sustainability goals and objectives for protection and restoration (see also WB3) will be identified through facilitated discussion and multi-criteria evaluation in focus groups including the stakeholders as identified above.


 
Deliverables
1.1.1    A report that reviews existing information sources with relevance to the land degradation problems and their solutions (literature, reports and internet).
1.2.1    An overview of desertification problems in the study areas (digital maps & report), showing the extent and impact of desertification in the study areas as well as the extent and effectiveness of protection and restoration methods.
1.3.1    A list of desertification drivers with specific reference to the study areas at field, local and policy level.
1.4.1    An inventory of relevant stakeholders, identifying the key players and their roles with regards to desertification and restoration in the study sites and extrapolated to the study area in general
1.4.2    For the benefit of and in collaboration with other WBs (especially WBs 3, 4 & 5) a set of sustainability goals will be made available, based on the context as evaluated above
 
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