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DESIRE project receives 'Good to Excellent' assessment after third project review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Erik van den Elsen   
ImageThe third panel review session was held on Monday May 31st in Brussels. A panel of renown scientists from Germany, Greece and Poland reviewed the third year of the DESIRE project. The panel was chaired by EU Scientific Project Officer Maria Yeroyanni. 

In the morning, a team from Alterra, ITC, ISRIC, University of Leeds, BothEnds and the Agricultural University of Athens represented the DESIRE consortium and gave presentations about work performed in WB1--WB6, about general progress, Planning, NGO activities and Finances. In the afternoon, the panel asked questions regarding the presentations and the year 3 progress report.

Although there were a lot of specific questions, the panel was content with the achievements of the DESIRE consortium during the third year. Therefore they assessed the project 'Good to Excellent' in their DESIRE 2010 consolidated report - a success for all DESIRE partners!

  • The summary of the consolidated report can be read by clicking the 'read more...' button below,
  • The complete report can be downloaded from the panel review Download page (click HERE - but login first),
  • The presentations given by the DESIRE members can be downloaded from the Download page (click HERE - but login first).



[the text below is the executive summary of the consolidated review report, produced by the review panel after the third project review in Brussels on May 31st 2010]


The project DESIRE attempts to study alternative land use and management conservation strategies with the joint action of scientists and stakeholder groups in a number of hot spots around the world (16 study sites) that are threatened by degradation and desertification.  The effectiveness of the proposed conservation techniques to fight desertification at different scales is based on a bottom-up integrated participatory approach. According to the project’s objectives, suitable indicators of the land degradation and desertification status will be applied at the local level in the study regions, and a Harmonized Information System (HIS) will provide the necessary functionality and means of effective dissemination of the project’s results to the users and stakeholders.
Following a thorough review on desertification (WB1), land degradation indicators (WB2) and description of the sites and potential prevention and mitigation strategies (WB3), the field implementation and monitoring phase is under way (WB4) and the pertinent modelling (WB5), while the Harmonized Information System (HIS) has been developed and used as a web site for dissemination.
This review is based on the following documentation:
 (a) Follow-up to second panel review report, (b) Deliverables for months 25-36, (c) Working plan for month 37-54, (d) Activity report for the 3rd year of implementation, (e) 3rd year Management report, and e) supplementary reports. 
This remains an ambitious, important and relevant project, which is mostly – with some exceptions – on track and represents an excellent learning-oriented approach. The initial problems (hesitant coordination) seem to have been mostly eliminated. The consortium seems enthusiastically collaborating and the work blocks (WBs) are well integrated. Finance is on track.
The management team implemented the majority of the comments of the second panel review. Overall the collaboration amongst the core partners seems very good, however the management structure has to make an additional effort to better integrate some of the less active partners, i.e., data providers from study sites that delay the overall progress of the project. The added value beyond the state-of-the-art of this project has to be precise in scientific innovation (basic and applied science) and contribution to policies and regulations at national, European and international level. The improved practical guidelines resulting from the joint LADA-WOCAT-DESIRE method, in the form of “best management practices” for land managers and the economic advantages for combating desertification have to be verified in the case studies.
The costs seem to be justified, although some individual partners seem to have been overspending till this moment of realization of the project.
Some of the responses given in the follow-up report to the second panel review are not clear (e.g., distinction from other projects and the conceptual project framework). A more stringent “white paper” should be elaborated on these issues.
The consortium should ensure better contribution from stakeholders, particularly with regard to the policy level in the study sites (and their countries).
A comparative analysis of the model applications in various WBs should be undertaken with (real data) AND without (synthetic data) the stakeholders‘ input. Finally a methodology has to be developed on the scaling issues (WOCAT, LADA (national level), DESIRE (study sites)), i.e., extrapolation to global scale.
The quality of information provided in the HIS needs to be assured and the degree of its interactivity to be determined. 
It is positively acknowledged that there are many PhD and Master studies being developed in this project which has a positive bearing on capacity building.
The gender plan is excellent and exemplary for many other projects and should be highlighted beyond DESIRE.
 
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