Working Group 1

WG1 – Understanding Land Degradation and Causality: The Bigger Picture and Focus on Europe – An Analytical and Remedial Think-Tank:

Because information is so dispersed, diffuse and largely unavailable to users, WG 1’s tasks will centre on understanding the big picture and gathering the dispersed knowledge of past and present research, programmes and Actions and formulating a ‘baseline’ or ‘terminus a quo’ especially with regard to the dryland areas of Europe, namely the UNCCD’s Annex IV Northern Mediterranean countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel )and Annex V countries (Western Balkans and South East Europe). The group will also review the many ‘direct’ and often ‘indirect’ factors that create land degradation in arid lands with regards to man’s interventions such as policy, land speculation, land classifications, land use and changes, economics, population pressures, climate change etc. particularly with respect to the research and studies that have taken place in Europe. The focus of the WG will thus be to consolidate and concretise existing knowledge and look towards understanding and expediting new and missing knowledge. The group’s remit will also include ‘international consultation’, in order to locate and highlight projects, practice scenarios and methods, (highlighting best practice), and bring forward the ‘missing’ specifications relating to ‘what works where and why’ in restoration methods and techniques.

The scope of the WG in more detail are as follows:

Whilst the MC provides the ‘brain’ of the Action, WG1 provides the skeleton / framework for the Action. WG1’s remit is overarching and looking at the bigger picture of restoration, particularly in Europe. Although the central focus of this Action is the practical side of restoration and vegetation establishment in arid areas, there is a particular need to understand the background and causality of land degradation in these areas. Many projects have been undertaken in and around this subject area but much of it remains hidden and difficult to access. WG1 will thus bring together existing research data and information through ‘international consultation’ from a variety of existing sources including research reports, programme documents etc., so that this data and information, and most importantly the results, can surface and be made readily available to users. WG 1’s major tasks then will be to summarise as the basis and framework for restoration the background, causes indicators of land degradation and the results of restoration and mitigation in dry and arid areas. Furthermore it will search for and identify gaps in the knowledge regarding causality and land degradation processes be they ‘natural’ (such as water and wind erosion) or ‘cultural’ (e.g. relating to policy and patterns of development and processes.) Examples of this include lands affected by the Common Agricultural Policy with abandoned lands, marginal lands, urbanised lands and ‘over-farmed’ lands. The overarching processes and structures for successful remediation will be identified, and made accessible to users.