Desertification, land use, and the transformation of global drylands

TitleDesertification, land use, and the transformation of global drylands
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBestelmeyer BT, Okin GS, Duniway MC, Archer SR, Sayre N.F, Williamson JC, Herrick JE
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Start Page28
Date Published02/2015
Accession NumberJRN00636
ARIS Log Number308157
Keywordsdesertification, land management, land use, land use change, SC-LUC, state change

Desertification is an escalating concern in global drylands, yet assessments to guide management and policy responses are limited by ambiguity concerning the definition of “desertification” and what processes are involved. To improve clarity, we propose that assessments of desertification and land transformation be placed within a state change–land-use change (SC–LUC) framework. This framework considers desertification as state changes occurring within the context of particular land uses (eg rangeland, cropland) that interact with land-use change. State changes that can be readily reversed are distinguished from regime shifts, which are state changes involving persistent alterations to vegetation or soil properties. Pressures driving the transformation of rangelands to other types of land uses may be low, fluctuating, or high, and may influence and be influenced by state change. We discuss how the SC–LUC perspective can guide more effective assessment of desertification and management of drylands.