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Silva Fennica journal special issue ‘Drought and Dryland Management’

Viikki Tropical Resources Institute – VITRI together with the United Nations Convention to combat Desertification United Nations (UNCCD) have published articles on Drought and Dryland Management in a special issue of the Journal Silva Fennica. The articles address the issue of ‘Drought and Dryland Management’ from the view point of different disciplines supported by case studies.

Silva Fennica is a scientific online journal, which publishes articles reporting significant new knowledge and understanding on all aspects of forest research, both basic and applied subjects. The journal carries original research articles, review articles, research notes, discussion papers and commentaries. The journal is published by the Finnish Society of Forest Science.

Special issue: Drought and Dryland Management – a commentary. Silva Fennica vol. 51 no. 1B article id 6985. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.6985 (Eshetu Yirdaw, Markku Kanninen, Mohamed Elfadl & Daniel Tsegai)

Highlights:

  • In order to redress the problems of dryland degradation several global initiatives have been launched and notable among them is the “Land Degradation Neutrality” initiative in the framework of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
  • If the global rehabilitation initiatives are extensively and fully implemented it may result in an increase in food security, sustainable land management, and resilience of dryland ecosystems and communities.
  • However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as upscaling of rehabilitation interventions, lack of holistic and landscape-level approach, and difficulties in attaining the sustainability of rehabilitation interventions.

Review article: Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in drylands and beyond – where has it come from and where does it go. Silva Fennica vol. 51 no. 1B article id 1650. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.1650 (Uriel Safriel)

Highlights:

  • LDN, a mechanism for offsetting new losses of land’s productivity by restoring productivity of already degraded lands, would maintain the balance of productive lands;
  • As target of Sustainable Development Goal LDN highlights the significance of land whose biological productivity is critical to human survival;
  • Commissioning UNCCD to oversee the implementation of LDN empowers the UNCCD and its impact on sustainability.

 

Review article: Rehabilitation of degraded dryland ecosystems – review. Silva Fennica vol. 51 no. 1B article id 1673. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.1673 (Eshetu Yirdaw, Mulualem Tigabu & Adrian Monge)

Highlights:

  • The prospect of restoring degraded drylands is technically promising;
  • The forest landscape restoration concept can be used as the overarching rehabilitation framework;
  • Development of process-based models that forecast rehabilitation outcomes is needed;
  • Rehabilitation methodologies developed for moist areas are not necessarily suitable for drylands;
  • More data is needed on cost-benefit analysis of rehabilitation interventions. 

Land degradation is widespread and a serious threat affecting the livelihoods of 1.5 billion people worldwide of which one sixth or 250 million people reside in drylands. Globally, it is estimated that 10–20% of drylands are already degraded and about 12 million ha are degraded each year.

Driven by unsustainable land use practices, adverse climatic conditions and population increase, land degradation has led to decline in provision of ecosystem services, food insecurity, social and political instability and reduction in the ecosystem’s resilience to natural climate variability. Several global initiatives have been launched to combat land degradation, including rehabilitation of degraded drylands.

This review aimed at collating the current state-of-knowledge about rehabilitation of degraded drylands. It was found that the prospect of restoring degraded drylands is technically promising using a suite of passive (e.g. area exclosure, assisted natural regeneration, rotational grazing) and active (e.g. mixed-species planting, framework species, maximum diversity, and use of nurse tree) rehabilitation measures. Advances in soil reclamation using biological, chemical and physical measures have been made. Despite technical advances, the scale of rehabilitation intervention is small and lacks holistic approach.

Development of process-based models that forecast outcomes of the various rehabilitation activities will be useful tools for researchers and practitioners. The concept of forest landscape restoration approach, which operates at landscape-level, could also be adopted as the overarching framework for rehabilitation of degraded dryland ecosystems. The review identified a data gap in cost-benefit analysis of rehabilitation interventions.

However, the cost of rehabilitation and sustainable management of drylands is opined to be lower than the losses that accrue from inaction, depending on the degree of degradation. Thus, local communities’ participation, incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge, clear division of tasks and benefits, strengthening local institutions are crucial not only for cost-sharing, but also for the long-term success of rehabilitation activities.