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Land degradation assessment through an ecosystem services lens: Integrating knowledge and methods in pastoral semi-arid systems (Journal of Arid Environments, Volume 124, January 2016, Pages 205-213)

This paper develops and applies an integrated and participatory methodological framework to assess land degradation in pastoral systems through an ecosystem services (ES) lens in a semi-arid region of northern Nicaragua. the authors initially integrated local and scientific knowledge to assess ecological changes and understand the links with ecosystem services supplied by the local grazing system.

Hence, they discuss land degradation features and test a state-and-transition ecological model, that is, the authors developed jointly with local farmers the hypotheses to understand transitions between ecological states and these hypotheses were then evaluated through an inventory of vegetation and an assessment of soil properties and seed bank composition.


- Combination of local and scientific knowledge allows a fine-tuned and rigorous understanding of land degradation processes.

- Soil properties assessment shows no significant differences between states.

- Differences between states are observed in seed bank composition.

- Ecosystem service focus allows discussing on adaptive management strategies that may directly reverse vegetation shifts.