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POL469H1 Lecture Notes - Tillage, Land Degradation, System Dynamics

Political Science
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IDSB02 Readings Global Desertification: Building a Science for Dryland Development
James F. Reynolds et al. - 2007
Drylands cover about 41% of the earth’s surface and are home to ~38% of the population but
some form of severe land degradation is present between 10-20% of this land
This will affect some 250 M people in developing nations
This estimate will increase with climate change and pop growth
UN adopted the Convention to Combat Desertification the CCD
CCD contributed by giving a definition of desertification in which stated land degradation in arid,
semi-arid and dry sub humid areas resulting from various factors (including climatic variations
and human activities-> biophysical factors and social factors)
However the CCD receive little exposure in popular and scientific media; b/c no intl’ science
The Dryland development paradigm (DDP) centres on the livelihoods of human populations in
drylands and their dependencies on the environment (through study of human-environmental
DDP responds to recent research and policy trends
DDP represents a convergence of insights from research in desertification, vulnerability, poverty
alleviation, and community development
These fields come together in 5 general lessons on the condition and dynamics of human-
environmental systems in sustainable dryland development:
o Both researchers and practitioners need to adopt an integrated approach -> ecological
and social issues are interwoven and thus the options for livelihood support and
ecological management
o There needs to be heightened awareness of slowly evolving conditions-> short term
measures tend to be bandaid solutions and don’t solve persistent/chronic issues or deal
w/continual change
o Nonlinear processes need to be recognized-> dryland systems aren’t in equilibrium,
have multiple thresholds; thus show multiple ecological and social states (they aren’t all
the same!)
o Cross scale interactions must be anticipated-> problems and solutions at one scale
influence and are influenced by those at other scales
o A much greater value must be placed on local environmental knowledge (LEK)-> its
undervalued but central to the management of drylands
“Drylands syndrome” – dryland populations are among the most socially, ecologically, and
politically marginalized people on Earth
Many dryland soils have low soil fertility
Both tillage and domesticated animals have major impact on dryland soils -> sensitive to
High temps, low humidity, and lots of sun radiation makes high PET
Precipitation is scare and generally unreliable -> high variability
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