Science for improving the monitoring and assessment of dryland degradation

Authors

  • M. D. Winslow,

    Corresponding author
    1. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India
    • International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India.
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  • J. V. Vogt,

    1. European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), Via E. Fermi, 2749, 21027 Ispra (VA), Italy
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  • R. J. Thomas,

    1. United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), 175 Longwood Road South, Suite 204, Hamilton, ON L8P 0A1, Canada
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  • S. Sommer,

    1. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India
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  • C. Martius,

    1. International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Program for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Central Asia and the Caucasus, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
    Current affiliation:
    1. Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), Avenida dos Astronautas 1758, 12227-010 São José dos Campos, SP, Brazil.
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  • M. Akhtar-Schuster

    1. Secretariat DesertNet International (DNI), c/o Biocentre Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden, University of Hamburg, Ohnhorststr.18, 22609 Hamburg, Germany
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Abstract

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) commissioned its First Scientific Conference in 2009 to deliberate on ways to improve the global monitoring and assessment of dryland degradation to support decision-making in land and water management. The papers included in this issue of Land Degradation & Development elaborate the reasoning behind the 11 recommendations that emerged from the Conference and were formally submitted to the UNCCD. These papers argue for a more holistic, harmonised and integrated approach to dryland monitoring and assessment, and describe scientific and institutional approaches for achieving this goal. A central challenge is to integrate human/social with environmental observations in accordance with the Convention's view that the interactions and tradeoffs between human development needs and land condition must be considered. A global monitoring and assessment regime should be established to gather and analyse relevant data on a routine basis, allowing locally-relevant indicators to be aggregated into meaningful classes appropriate to different decision-making levels. The underlying forces that cause changes in land condition should also be monitored and assessed so that remedial actions can target the true causes of dryland degradation, including social, economic, policy, institutional and knowledge drivers that have often been overlooked in the past. Monitoring and assessment should hybridise differing types of knowledge generated by different stakeholders in order to strengthen collective capacities to combat dryland degradation. An independent scientific advisory mechanism should be created to advise the UNCCD about the results emerging from the monitoring and assessment regime in order to improve decision-making. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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