Drylands are not wastelands

Drylands cover over 40% of the earth’s land surface. They are home to more than 2 billion people, most of whom live in developing countries and are among the poorest in the world. The natural resources on which the majority of dryland dwellers depend are fast disappearing, making desertification one of today’s greatest environmental challenges. Climate change is likely to exacerbate these challenges.  But is it all doom and gloom? A panel of high profile global drylands experts met during the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain, to discuss ways of increasing investment in sustainable drylands management in the face of adverse effects of climate change.


Kalama Conservancy in Kenya’s dry lands of Samburu District Photo: IUCNGrace J. Chepkwony

 The title of the workshop was : “Drylands are not Wastelands: Boosting their potential for a better world”. The discussion sought to find out why drylands were lagging behind in development and sustainable use of natural resources. While people have been discussing the challenges in drylands for decades, one major new element in the last years is the need for a stronger economic argument to make the case and answer such questions as: What are the return on people and ecosystems of another Green Revolution? How much do natural resources already contribute to national welfare? What is the economic potential of some of the wild fruits and plants? The participants agreed that there was a need to raise awareness that drylands are not wastelands but have productive land and resources like Gum Arabic and medicinal plants.

IUCN ESARO works to raise awareness of the dynamics affecting use of natural resources and conservation of biodiversity in drylands and build capacities to manage drylands and protect livelihoods of people while sustaining natural resources and conserving biodiversity. It also works to strengthen policies relating to natural resource use, biodiversity management and conservation policies in drylands. Activities include influencing regional governments to adopt national policies that support appropriate drylands biodiversity management systems.

For more information please visit www.iucn.org/drylands

East and Southern Africa
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