Identification of potential areas for out-scaling sustainable land management options in West Asia, North Africa, and Central Asia
Ziadat, Feras M.
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Water scarcity and land degradation are among the most important factors affecting agricultural production and sustainability in the West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region and in Central Asia (CA). Various sustainable land management (SLM) technologies that help conserve and better use natural resources and hence improve the incomes and livelihoods of farmers are available and being adapted to these regions. However, to achieve better adoption by farmers and to ensure positive results from implementation, the SLM technologies in WANA and CA need to be disseminated on a large scale. Identifying the potential areas to target the implementation of selected SLM practices is necessary to help decision makers and facilitate the out-scaling process. With participation of specialists from the National Agriculture Research Systems, three agro-ecosystems, rangeland, irrigated, and rainfed, were defined for the WANA region, and the mountain agroecosystem was added for CA. Each agro-ecosystem was represented by a benchmark site where selected SLM technology was demonstrated. In WANA, these benchmark sites included the water harvesting Vallerani system (contour ridges and semicircular bunds) for rangeland, water-saving (raised-beds and deficit irrigation) for irrigated, and supplemental irrigation for rainfed agro-ecosystems. In CA, sites included pasture improvement for rangeland, raised-beds for irrigated, conservation agriculture for rainfed, and agro-forestry for mountain agro-ecosystems. The criteria used to identify potential areas for out-scaling consisted of land use, slope, water resources availability, precipitation, degree of land degradation, livestock density, soil depth, soil texture, and soil salinity. Global spatial datasets, such as the FAO Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands project (LADA), soil data from the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD), and soil depth from the Soil Map of the World were used to derive the required database. Available national data provided by the participating countries were used as supplemental sources. The derived maps were validated and verified by an interdisciplinary team of experts and researchers from the countries in both regions. Verification of the maps derived at regional level – using low resolution data, with more detailed data for some countries – indicated that potential areas for out-scaling SLM could be generally identified. However, for implementation purposes and to derive the extent of the potential areas, detailed data at national level is needed. Yet, the results are useful to guide decision makers to first identify the extent and distribution of the potential areas for each SLM and agroecosystem and, second, to prioritize the implementation. This will help in the out-scaling of SLM options to improve productivity and resilience. pp. 358 - 363