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Home arrow Working blocks arrow Work Block 4: Implementation and Monitoring
Work Block 4: Implementation and Monitoring PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joost   

Coordinator: 21 – ITC, NL
Participants: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28

a)    To design a practical implementation strategy of conservation and remediation measures per hotspot area, using results of WB1 (indicator based desertification maps) and WB3 (acceptable conservation plans and strategies).
b)    To implement measuring and monitoring systems in cooperation with the stakeholders, using and improving upon the monitoring systems already in place (if applicable).
c)    To interpret monitoring results using small scale scientific models that simulate erosion runoff, vegetation growth and pattern changes, based on GIS and remote sensing data.
d)    To compare the monitoring and simulation results on the local scale with the indicators short-listed in WB2, and improve those indicators based on a quantitative scientific analysis.
e)    To translate the results in "good farming practices" and advise both farmers and local government on how to integrate the conservation measures in their annual farming plans.

General information
There are two main goals in WB4: i) the conservation strategies that have met the multi-criteria analysis in WB3 will be implemented in the hotspots and their effects monitored and modelled over a period of about 3 years, and ii) the indicator sets that are defined and selected in WB2 are evaluated based on the scientific research and modelling results. The strategies and indicator sets that are in part selected on the basis of common consensus with the stakeholders, may be the most acceptable but not the most effective. This WB aims at providing the scientific background to those strategies and show the effect of alternatives by means of simulation.
Many remediation and conservation measures will be applied on a farm or even field level, in particular the measures to combat runoff and erosion, but also water harvesting techniques, particular cropping patterns etc. Others will have to be applied in a larger area, for instance those that attempt to protect natural vegetation from grazing and tourism. Because many of the 18 hotspot areas have different types of land use and different desertification processes (see Table 4.1), an integrated implementation plan must be designed for each area, in order to have the best overall effect for a hotspot area with the least effort. The development of the integrated plan will be steered by the scientific institute in charge of the area. In view of the length of the project this period of field trials should be maximized, this work block will be implemented in parallel to WB3 with a constant interaction between WB3 and WB4. To ensure continuity, there is some overlap here between the last work package of WB3 and the first work package of WB4: the design of the integrated implementation plans.
An important part in the implementation plan is a spatial map of the indicator sets of WB1 and WB2 that show the hotspot areas in terms of degrees of desertification and land degradation. This will help us not only to look for completely degraded areas, but in fact also target areas that are less degraded and where the effect of the remediation strategies will be promising. In other words, the goal is not only to target the worst spots but also to increase the overall value of an area. WB 4 will report results of evaluations of indicators and strategies, including models and interactive tools, to be added to the HIS in WB6.


Fig. 4.3 Areas vulnerable to desertification, and location of DESIRE study sites
Hotspot area    Main Problem\ Desertification process
Guadalentin Basin, Murcia, Spain    Drought, soil erosion by water
Mação, Portugal    Forest fires
Rendina Basin, Basilicata, Italy    Soil erosion by water
Crete, Greece    Soil erosion by water, overgrazing, water stress
Nestos Basin, Maggana, Greece    Salinisation
Konya Karapinar Plain, Turkey    Soil erosion by wind
Eskisehir Plain, Turkey    Soil erosion by water
Mamora/Sehoul, Morocco    Increasing pressure due to urbanization nearby
Zeuss-Koutine, Tunisia    Competition for scarce water resources
Djanybek, Russia    Poor vegetation growth
Novij, Saratov, Russia    Salinisation
Loess Plateau, China    Soil erosion by water and wind
Boteti Area, Botswana    Overgrazing and decreased flooding
Cointzio catchment, Mexico    Soil erosion by water
Walnut Gulch Watershed, USA    Vegetation change, flash floods
Glenelg Hopkins region, Australia    Salinisation, and sporadically bush fires
Secano Interior, Chile    Soil erosion by water, extensive gullying
Santiago Island, Cape Verde    Soil erosion, drought, flash floods

Table 4.1: overview of hotspots

WP 4.1 Design of an integrated implementation plan for the hotspot areas
The hotspots listed in Table 4.1 and Annex 2 show a wide variety of problems, ranging from erosion and downstream risk of flash floods, to changes in vegetation caused by grazing and drought. Water shortage is of course a common factor. WB2 results in desertification and indicator maps that are used to implement the conservation strategies accepted by the stakeholders in WB3. In WP 4.1 an integrated strategic plan for each hotspot area will be constructed that should lead to an improvement of hydrology, soil status and vegetation resilience of the area. These strategies target both degraded and less degraded areas and aim at increasing the value of the entire area.

WP 4.2 Implementation of conservation and remediation strategies
The first step is to measure and monitor the current situation in each of the hotspot areas, to quantify the various desertification processes and establish an idea of the severity of the situation. This will likely be a continuation of the monitoring activities done already by each of the "hotspot owners" that have been working in these areas for a considerable time. This monitoring will continue until the conservation plans are implemented. In this first period the focus will be on the streamlining the methods that are used in each area and on establishing a common protocol and methodology that will facilitate a synthesis of the results across the hotspot areas in WP 4.5. Special attention will be given to areas that are not or hardly affected by desertification, to see if they can serve as reference areas and to locate areas that show promise for remediation.
The conservation plans of WP4.1 can ultimately be translated in series of simple measures that the stakeholders can implement. The implementation of the conservation measures depends on the scale and the type of land degradation processes that are treated. Certain agriculture related measures are implemented on a field level by the farmers and institutes. They may be seasonal or permanent and should be an integral part of the farming system. Examples are: various levels of mulching and minimum tillage farming to improve soil structure, intercropping and contour tillage to influence the connectivity of runoff, water harvesting techniques to decrease groundwater use for irrigation, grazing management by rotation systems of accessibility of areas, management of grazing pressure levels. Other measures deal with the overall land use patterns in a catchment and the distribution of sources, sinks and pathways. Certain desertification processes, such as changes in vegetation, take much longer than 3 years to be detectable. In that case, areas will be located in the vicinity that exhibit stages in degradation with a known age. For example land abandonment sites around the Mediterranean are fairly well documented and with airphoto interpretation and remote sensing, time series analysis of pattern changes can be done (see e.g, Sluiter, 2005).

DESIRE aims to work alongside existing national and international land degradation remediation initiatives, and we recognise the importance of embedding this project in existing institutional and policy-making structures. The proposal clearly targets this through its choice of partners and workplan. Country partners were chosen who have strong backing from Government, NGO and international institutions (evidenced by letters of support). The workplan targets these dimensions explicitly in WB1.3, however we recognise that this is currently worded primarily in terms of literature and policy review, and focus group participants are not identified (it is intended that participants will primarily be drawn from policy circles). Target country partners will work closely with policy-makers to identify the national policy context for DESIRE through their existing institutional links, and the development of new links where necessary.

Given the emphasis on local knowledge and capabilities, it is likely that many of the remediation options developed through the DESIRE approach will be “soft”. “Hard” scientific, engineering and technical solutions to land degradation often require too much specialist expertise, equipment, money and time for them to be adopted by local land managers. “Hard” solutions will only be recommended where it can be demonstrated that they can be applied effectively by land managers. As such recommended remediation strategies are likely to include both “hard” and “soft” approaches. The methodological approach is designed to stimulate social learning between communities, policy-makers and researchers. By bringing actors together from disparate social networks to share and combine knowledge, the approach is designed to enhance social capital; a “soft” approach to increase community resilience to environmental change and enhance local remediation capacity.

Some target countries will be able to gain from experience with land remediation in comparable environments, and DESIRE will facilitate this knowledge transfer wherever possible. However, we acknowledge that many of the experiences will be context-specific, and not transferable. This is one of the strengths of DESIRE: approaches to land degradation remediation developed through this project will be relevant to the needs and priorities of land managers in each target country. Learning from the failures of the transfer of technology paradigm, DESIRE will not attempt to develop broad-brush solutions that can be tranferred across the world, that may be inappropriate (and potentially damaging) to local contexts.
The methodological approach was developed and tested with communities in the Kalahari, Botswana. To test the transferability of the approach, three study sites were selected to be as different as possible in terms of their socio-economic and environmental contexts. This research demonstrated clearly that the methods were tranfererable between very different contexts (Reed & Dougill, 2002; Fraser et al., 2005; Reed et al., in press; Stringer and Reed, in press). The transferability of the methodological approach was further tested through a UK Government Research Council-funded project in UK uplands. It is difficult to imagine a more different social, economic or environmental context, and yet many of the drivers of land degradation are similar (e.g. inappropriate burning and grazing-induced soil erosion). The approach was modified in this context to enhance the rigour with which remediation options could be tested by including integrated modelling. DESIRE builds on the methodological refinements of a project that has clearly demonstrated the wide transferability of the approach (e.g. Dougill et al., 2006).

WP 4.3 Monitoring, modeling and local evaluation of conservation measures
The goal here is to monitor the effect of mitigation and remediation measures both directly through observation and measurement, and indirectly through modelling. The models offer insight into the processes and their spatial and temporal variability. At this stage the focus is on each hotspot separately but work package 4.5 ensures the comparison between countries and the definition of common denominators in the conservation measures. In order to facilitate this step, special care will be taken in this WP to define monitoring strategies and modelling scenarios along similar terms so that they are comparable in approach and strategy.
A series of both innovative and well tested models and methods are available within the consortium to predict and monitor the changes in the land degradation processes (see Fig. 1.1) and analyze the field data:
?    Erosion processes: many models are available on a variety of scales in space and time (EUROSEM, LISEM, MEFIDIS to name a few, see Jetten and Favis-Mortlock, 2006). Evaluation of the on-site and off-site effects of conservation measures on both erosion and sedimentation processes are possible for single extreme events, and for long term meteorological changes. These tools are used in many countries to design and monitor conservation strategies and land use change plans, and a considerable expertise has been acquired over the years.
?    Vegetation changes will be monitored using new and innovative remote sensing based techniques. De Jong et al., (2003) show the possibility of determining biomass and leaf area index of Mediterranean vegetation using multi-spectral remote sensing images. Based on a 'red edge' analysis, i.e. the difference in reflectance caused by chlorophyl (De Jong and Van der Meer, 2004) and contextual algorithms for pattern analysis (Sluiter, 2005), detection of changes in both quality and patterns of vegetation species are feasible.
?    These remote sensing techniques can be coupled to models such as Forest BGC (Running and Gower, 1991), that simulate biomass, carbon and nitrogen pool changes on daily and annual timescales. Forest BGC in turn is closely coupled to forest fire models such as FireBGC (Keane et al., 1995) that has been used to determine the effects of fire.
?    Soil water and groundwater storages can be assessed with relatively simple soil water balance models based on gravity drainage and Penman evapotranspiration, that are easily implemented in a GIS and have been proven to perform well. These soil water balance models can also be used to assess changes in land use/crops behaviour by coupling them to crop growth models such as WOFOST, of which GIS based spatial versions are available.
?    A new type of analysis is made possible by the new high resolution sensors such as Quickbird and Ikonos that have pixel sizes smaller than 2.5x2.5 m2 and enable change detection of for instance erosion patterns.
The hotspots within the consortium have been under investigation for long periods by the institutes. That means that certain instruments have been in place and timeseries of data have been gathered. Examples are meteorological data, soil and groundwater data, satellite images and other GIS based data of soil and vegetation (see hotspot area descriptions in Annex 2). In this work package these instruments will be used, reinforced where needed by additional measuring equipment.

WP 4.4 Testing and improving indicators
The results from WP4.3 will be compared with the degradation/desertification estimate obtained using the indicators identified in WB2. This will provide a scientific basis to these indicators. If certain indicators are found not to reflect the degradation accurately, results from WB4.3 will be used to try to improve those indicators.  

WP 4.5 Comparison of hotspots
The datasets and analysis results of the hotspot areas will be compared and integrated, and common denominators across the hotspots of the different countries will be sought. The goal of this is to define more general conservation and remediation strategies, that are commonly applicable in a range of environments. The socio-economic affects of these plans and strategies will be assessed based on a cost-benefit type analysis. More important in this respect is the direct translation of these strategies to define "good farming practices" and advise both farmers and local government on how to integrate the conservation measures in their annual farming plans. The results of the analysis and synthesis will therefore be coupled back and discussed with the stakeholder communities.
The previous workblocks WB1 to WB3 have firmly established stakeholder groups with which a dialog is in place and with which a series of meetings have been held. The results of this workblock will be translated to a series of presentations that show the differences "before and after implementation of the conservation plans". There is a lot of expertise within the group on the nature of such presentations, translating scientific results to clear conclusions in laymans terms, using modern GIS techniques and visualisations. The focus will be on the (dis) advantages of the measures taken and the time and effort spent, and the returns of the efforts. These returns cannot always be translated into economic terms but probably can be presented as good farm management and good environmental management, that is becoming a requirement within the EU. Both farmers communities and local government that have to design and implement such "good agricultural practices" will benefit from the findings of DESIRE, and we will help them define these farm management guidelines.

4.1.1    Digital datasets for each hotspot of terrain, land use, soils, climate
4.1.2    Spatial integrated implementation plans in the form of reports and (digital) maps
4.2.1    Establishment of a common methodology to streamline monitoring and measurement across the areas and facilitate integration and comparison
4.2.2    Scientific articles focusing on a quantification of the desertification situation before the management plans re established
4.2.2    Scientific articles based on the effects of the conservation plans that and giving a critical analysis of the differences "before" and "after" the implementation of the conservation plans.
4.2.3    A report with a summary of the scientific findings, in which the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of the conservation measures in each hotspot area are described.
4.4.1    Improved set of indicators.
4.5.1    Report with a description of common, widely applicable conservation measures and integration of the results across the hotspot areas. Translation of the results and presentation to the stakeholder communities, assistence in drafting good agricultural practice guidelines.

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