Applying a new desertification paradigm linking biophysical and socioeconomic elements: the Amapola, Mexico, case study

TitleApplying a new desertification paradigm linking biophysical and socioeconomic elements: the Amapola, Mexico, case study
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsReynolds J.F, Huber-Sannwald E., Maestre F., Herrick JE, Healy R.
Conference NameSociety for Range Management, 58th Annual Meeting and Trade Show
Date PublishedFebruary 5, 2005
Conference LocationFort Worth, TX
ARIS Log Number178302
KeywordsAmapola, Mexico, biophysical, case study, desertification paradigm, socioeconomic

The Dahlem Desertification Paradigm (DDP) is a new, interdisciplinary framework stemming from the 88th Dahlem workshop: An Integrated Assessment of the Ecological, Meteorological and Human Dimensions of Global Desertification. The DDP focuses on interrelationships within coupled human-environment systems that cause desertification and is designed to facilitate our ability to compare and contrast arid and semiarid regions of the world. We present elements of the DDP as applied to a case study of severe land degradation in La Amapola, one of the most remote and inaccessible communities of the Ejido Escalerillas, situated on the SE side of the Sierra San Miguelito, SW of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The structural heterogeneity shaping the Amapola landscape is the product of 150 yrs of human activity and climatic change, where historic legacies remain important. Amapola is a dynamic, coupled human-environmental system dominated by numerous biophysical variables (especially hydrologic phenomena such as soil erosion, gullies, flooding, man-made water reservoirs, etc.) and socioeconomic variables (changing land tenure, federal self-help assistance programs, complex community leadership hierarchies, poverty, etc.). We applied the DDP framework to the degraded Amapola ecosystem to elucidate key linkages between these biophysical and socioeconomic variables with the goal of assessing, for example, the likelihood for increased crop productivity, the potential to extend existing rain-fed and irrigated cultivation via changes in local hydrology, and the relative contribution and interactions of a number of possible degradation triggers, such as overgrazing, hydrologic intervention, and climate variability, especially linkages to the socioeconomic system.