Student-led Project

Dryland degradation

Project Leader(s):

Drylands cover over 41% of the earth’s surface and have degraded over time because of various human activities and habitation patterns including soil erosion, and the long-term loss of natural vegetation. Dryland degradation has been defined as one of the major environmental issues of the 21st century particularly due to the impact on world food security and environmental quality.

One of the defining characteristics of dryland degradation is the shift from a vegetated regime into a patchy bare soil regime. The ecological drivers of this regime shift into an unproductive, marginalized have been well documented, but these changes are often reinforced by social processes which are not as well understood. The aim of this project is to use a comparative case study analysis to study social-ecological regime shifts in the African drylands. The main social connections driving the ecological processes will be focused on as well as how communities have responded to change, how they have demonstrated resilience and adapted and transformed over time. This will allow for a better understanding of the social, behavioral and ecological processes driving dryland degradation and how these can be used to increase resilience of this social-ecological system and prevent further degradation.

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