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Keywords:

  • conservation measures;
  • desertification;
  • stakeholder workshop;
  • learning;
  • sustainable land management (SLM);
  • best practices;
  • decision support;
  • EU

Abstract

Most desertification research focuses on degradation assessments without putting sufficient emphasis on prevention and mitigation strategies, although the concept of sustainable land management (SLM) is increasingly being acknowledged. A variety of already applied conservation measures exist at the local level, but they are not adequately recognised, evaluated and shared, either by land users, technicians, researchers, or policy makers. Likewise, collaboration between research and implementation is often insufficient. The aim of this paper is to present a new methodology for a participatory process of appraising and selecting desertification mitigation strategies, and to present first experiences from its application in the EU-funded DESIRE project. The methodology combines a collective learning and decision approach with the use of evaluated global best practices. In three parts, it moves through a concise process, starting with identifying land degradation and locally applied solutions in a stakeholder workshop, leading to assessing local solutions with a standardised evaluation tool, and ending with jointly selecting promising strategies for implementation with the help of a decision support tool. The methodology is currently being applied in 16 study sites. Preliminary analysis from the application of the first part of the methodology shows that the initial stakeholder workshop results in a good basis for stakeholder cooperation, and in promising land conservation practices for further assessment. Study site research teams appreciated the valuable results, as burning issues and promising options emerged from joint reflection. The methodology is suitable to initiate mutual learning among different stakeholder groups and to integrate local and scientific knowledge. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.