French Scientific Committee on Desertification

Comité Scientifique Français de la Désertification

Restoring natural capital in arid and semiarid regions

Issue 7
• 40 pp. •
Published in June 2009
Author(s): Aronson James

Combining ecosystem health with human wellbeing

The overall aim of this CSFD thematic report is to communicate, share and discuss key elements of restoring natural capital in arid and semiarid regions. Its main goal is to promote the implementation of this approach within societies and communities that are the most threatened by desertification.

The regions threatened by desertification cover about 40% of the emerged land masses. Most people living in these regions are exposed to poverty or extreme poverty. An approach to simultaneously restore degraded ecosystems and improve human wellbeing is urgently needed.

Biodiversity conservation, poverty alleviation and economic development are traditionally perceived as having separate or even conflictual interests. This report shows the contrary. Indeed, restoring natural capital combines ecological restoration and sustainable development objectives in order to create a synergy between them both and also the maintaining of native biodiversity.

Several sites throughout the world in arid or semiarid areas are discussed to illustrate elementary concepts of natural capital restoration in the field. This report is the result of the literature review of the available scientific material relevant to natural capital restoration in arid and semiarid areas. Most of the definitions and field illustrations are adapted from Aronson, Milton and Blignaut (2007), a book written by 71 international scientists, managers and journalists in the fields of ecology, economics and ecological economics.