Restoring the Jordan’s Badia Agro-Ecosystems - tracking developmental interventions and impacts using Remote Sensing
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In Jordan’s Badia land degradation and desertification has been in acceleration in the recent decades due to improper land use management practices, often attributed to over grazing. The coincidence of the vulnerable soils in the arid region with erratic rainfall regime further worsened soil degradation. Consequential soil structural changes and crusting impedes rainwater infiltration eventually leading to increasing surface runoff and erosion. In order to check soil erosion and desertification processes, researchers at the National Center for Agriculture Research and Extension (NCARE) and International Center of Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) took up collaborative studies to investigate targeted mitigation strategies aimed at restoring degraded rangelands through a combination of micro and meso-level water harvesting, re-vegetation and proper rangeland and livestock management practices. The established interventions demands for continuous success control and impact monitoring at the field and landscape scales. Such targeted interventions needs regular field-based in-situ inventories - one such tool called Collect Earth developed by FAO-led Open Foris that enables field data collection though Google Earth. The collected in-situ observations were combined with multi-resolution satellite remote sensing data, such as MODIS (250-500m) Landsat 7/8 (30m) and Sentinel-2 (10m) derived vegetation index (e.g., NDVI) to assess the impact of the water harvesting thought the vegetation trends. Preliminary results obtained from the pilot research site at the Majidyya, located approximately 20km south-east of Amman (Jordan’s capital) indicates significant difference in vegetation (NDVI) changes between treated and untreated water harvesting areas. Ongoing research further investigates and intended to develop improved approaches and methods using detail ground truth data and linking them to remote sensing derived vegetation indices (e.g., NDVI, EVI, LSWI) to estimate rangeland productivity and land degradation process over the years. Understanding such vegetation trends, land productivity under changing climate (extreme events), demography and livestock grazing pattern will help design better land (soil) and livestock (feed resources) management practices for sustainable Badia ecosystem and the Bedouin’s livelihoods.