Land Degradation in Drylands: An Ecogeomorphological Approach
Land degradation is particularly pernicious and pervasive in dryland regions. The dependency of local livelihoods on the services provided by ecosystems is greater in drylands than in any other ecosystems, rendering their inhabitants exceptionally vulnerable to land degradation. Current approaches to managing drylands to mitigate land degradation often fail to produce significant improvements because local knowledge is often undervalued and the complexity of underlying processes leading to land degradation is still not well understood. There remains a need to uncover the underlying dynamics and characteristic responses to environmental drivers and human-induced disturbances. The physical processes associated with land degradation in drylands fall at the interface of ecology and geomorphology. Regrettably, the disciplines of ecology and geomorphology have largely performed research in isolation of each other. The disciplines, in common with most, have a centrifugal perspective, looking outwards from themselves towards cognate disciplines. To address multidisciplinary scientific questions – such as land degradation in drylands – a centripetal approach is required in which the problem is the focus towards which the disciplines direct their attention. The purpose of this book is to take such a centripetal approach towards the understanding of the process linkages between ecogeomorphological dryland processes and patterns to better our understanding of land degradation, and to overcome the lack of interdisciplinarity in current dryland research.
KeywordsEcosystem Service Land Degradation United Nations Convention Sustainable Land Management Combat Desertification
This chapter is a contribution to the book Patterns of Land Degradation in Drylands: Understanding Self-Organised Ecogeomorphic Systems, which is the outcome of an ESF-funded Exploratory Workshop – “Self-organized ecogeomorphic systems: confronting models with data for land degradation in drylands” – which was held in Potsdam, Germany, 7–10 June 2010.
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