A land degradation assessment and mapping method

A standard guideline proposal

Issue 8 52 pp. • Published in November 2010

Author(s): Brabant Pierre

Arable land is a vital resource for humankind. Cultivation of this land generates food to meet the daily needs of the world’s population. This land is limited and the area is constantly shrinking—2 ha/inhabitant in 1900 versus 0.4 in 2010— due to the impact of human activities and population growth. Arable land is not a naturally renewable resource on the time scale of human evolution and is invaluable as it cannot be manufactured. This land therefore has to be properly managed. It is thus essential to understand the actual land degradation status so as to be able to draw up protection, restoration and/or sustainable management policies.

In 1990, the results of the first global land assessment were incomplete because of a lack of common assessment procedure. This CSFD Dossier describes a streamlined land degradation assessment method that can be applied on different spatial scales—farm to country—and in all climatic zones in worldwide.

The type, extent and degree (or severity) of land degradation are the three main indicators selected. When pooled, they represent a degradation index rating that is displayed in a simple way on maps that can be readily used by politicians, decisionmakers and the media. Complementary indicators are useful for staff responsible for implementing land degradation control initiatives in areas earmarked by decisionmakers: degradation rate and trend, historical background, soil sensitivity and resilience, possible causes, off-site effects, and rural population density.

The results obtained could contribute to meeting the objectives of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, especially through national objectives in countries affected by desertification that must regularly report on land degradation.

    Brabant Pierre

    Brabant Pierre

    Honorary Research Director, IRD (France)


    Une méthode d’évaluation et de cartographie de la dégradation des terres

    Dossier du CSFD 8  •  2010

    Une méthode d’évaluation et de cartographie de la dégradation des terres

    Proposition de directives normalisées

Support

Editing, production and distribution of Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD are fully supported by this Committee thanks to the support of relevant French Ministries and AFD (French Development Agency).

  • Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche
  • Ministère des Affaires étrangères
  • Ministère de l’Écologie, du Développement durable et de l’Énergie
  • Agence Française de Développement (AFD)

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The opinions expressed in these reports are endorsed by the Committee.

Contact

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Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification

CSFD
Agropolis International
1000 avenue Agropolis
F-34394 Montpellier CEDEX 5 •  France
Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 04 75 44 • email: csfd@agropolis.fr

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Website: Olivier Piau (Agropolis Productions)
© 2013 Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification (CSFD)

Dossiers

thématiques du CSFD

Mankind is now confronted with an issue of worldwide concern, i.e. desertification, which is both a natural phenomenon and a process induced by human activities. Our planet and natural ecosystems have never been so degraded by our presence. Long considered as a local problem, desertification is now a global issue of concern to all of us, including scientists, decision makers, citizens from both developed and developing countries. Within this setting, it is urgent to boost the awareness of civil society to convince it to get involved. People must first be given the elements necessary to better understand the desertification phenomenon and the concerns. Everyone should have access to relevant scientific knowledge in a readily understandable language and format.

Within this scope, the French Scientific Committee on Desertification (CSFD) has decided to launch a series entitled Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD, which is designed to provide sound scientific information on desertification, its implications and stakes. This series is intended for policy makers and advisers from developed and developing countries, in addition to the general public and scientific journalists involved in development and the environment. It also aims at providing teachers, trainers and trainees with additional information on various associated disciplinary fields. Lastly, it endeavours to help disseminate knowledge on the combat against desertification, land degradation, and poverty to stakeholders such as representatives of professional, nongovernmental, and international solidarity organisations.

These Dossiers are devoted to different themes such as global public goods, remote sensing, wind erosion, agroecology, pastoralism, etc, in order to take stock of current knowledge on these various subjects. The goal is also to outline debates around new ideas and concepts, including controversial issues; to expound widely used methodologies and results derived from a number of projects; and lastly to supply operational and academic references, addresses and useful websites. These Dossiers are to be broadly circulated, especially within the countries most affected by desertification, by email, through our website, and in print. Your feedback and suggestions will be much appreciated!

Scientific editing and iconography: Isabelle Amsallem, Agropolis Productions
Design and production: Olivier Piau, Agropolis Productions