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Restoring natural capital in arid and semiarid regions combining ecosystem health with human wellbeing

40 pages
A comprehensive state of the art about the restoration of natural capital: an alternative approach of environmental management...
Lacombe Morgane and Aronson James, 2009. Restoring natural capital in arid and semiarid regions combining ecosystem health with human wellbeing. Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD. N° 7.
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Combining ecosystem healthwith human wellbeing
Comité Scientifique Français de la DésertificationFrench Scientific Committee on Desertification
Editing,productionanddistributionofLesdossiersthématiquesduCSFDarefullysupportedbythisCommitteethroughthebackingofrelevantFrenchtriesaswellastheFrenchDevelopmentAgency.Lesdossiersthématiq esMinisuduCSFDmaybefreelydownloadedfheCommitteewebsite.romt
French Scientific Committee on DesertificationThe creation in 1997 of the French Scientific Committee onDesertification (CSFD) has met two concerns of the Ministries incharge of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.First, CSFD materializes the will to involve the French scientificcommunity versed in desertification, land degradation, anddevelopment of arid, semi-arid and sub-humid areas, in generatingknowledge as well as guiding and advising the policy makers andactors associated in this combat. Its other aim is to strengthen theposition of this French community within the international context.In order to meet such expectations, CSFD is meant to be a drivingforce regarding analysis and assessment, prediction and monitoring,information and promotion. Within French delegations, CSFD alsotakes part in the various statutory meetings of the organs of the UnitedNations Convention to Combat Desertification: Conference of theParties (CoP), Committee on Science and Technology (CST),Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention.It also participates in meetings of European and international scope.CSFD includes a score of members and a President, who are appointedintuitu personae by the Ministry for Higher Education and Research,and come from various specialities of the main relevant institutionsand universities. CSFD is managed and hosted by the AgropolisInternational Association that gathers, in the French town ofMontpellier and Languedoc-Roussillon region, a large scientificcommunity specialised in agriculture, food and environment oftropical and Mediterranean countries. The Committee acts as anindependent advisory organ; it has neither decision-making powersnor legal status.Its operating budget is financed by subsidies from the FrenchMinistries of Foreign and European Affairs and for Ecology andSustainable Planning and Development as well as the FrenchDevelopment Agency. CSFD members participate voluntarily to itsactivities, as a contribution from the Ministry for Higher Educationand Research.More about
Marc Bied-CharretonPresident of CSFDEmeritus Professor of the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines(UVSQ, France)Researcher at C3ED-UMR IRD/UVSQ(Centre of Economics and Ethics forEnvironment and Development)
Maowfnhkwiiconhrldidsiwsbiondtoehwcaocnnoacntefurrrnoa,nli.tpee.hddeenwsoietmrhteiafninocanitsiasonunde,a process induced by human activities.Our planet and natural ecosystems have never been sodegraded by our presence. Long considered as a localproblem, desertification is now a global issue that affectsus all, including scientists, decision-makers, citizensfrom both the South and North. Within this setting, it isurgent to boost the awareness of civil society to convinceit to get involved. People must first be given the elementsnecessary to better understand the desertificationphenomenon and the concerns. Everyone should haveaccess to relevant scientific knowledge in a readilyunderstandable language and format. Within this scope,the French Scientific Committee on Desertification hasdecided to launch a new series entitled'Les dossiersthématiques du CSFD', which is designed to providesound scientific information on desertification, itsimplications and stakes. This series is intended forpolicy makers and advisers from the North and South,in addition to the general public and scientific journalistsinvolved in development and the environment. It alsoaims at providing teachers, trainers and trainees withadditional information on various associated fields.Lastly, it endeavours to help disseminate knowledge onthe combat against desertification, land degradation,and poverty to stakeholders such as representativesof professional, nongovernmental, and internationalsolidarity organisations.
A dozen reports are devoted to different themes suchas global public good, remote sensing, wind erosion,agroecology, pastoralism, etc, in order to take stock ofcurrent knowledge on these various subjects. The goalis also to set out ideological and new concept debates,including controversial issues; to expound widely usedmethodologies and results derived from a number ofprojects; and lastly to supply operational and intellectualreferences, addresses and useful websites.
These reports are to be broadly circulated, especiallywithin the countries most affected by desertification,by e-mail (upon request), through our website, andin print. Your feedback and suggestions will be muchappreciated! Editing, production and distribution of'Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD'are fully supportedby this Committee thanks to the backing of relevantFrench Ministries and the French Development Agency.The opinions expressed in these reports are endorsed bythe Committee.
TcommunThe goal is primarily: (1) to participate in promoting this fair and ecologically sustainable.approach to societies and communities most affectedby degradation of the environments and resources they Profound changes in the behaviour of our societiesmanage, and (2) to persuade governments and public (from field operators to policymakers) with respectand private assistance decision-makers to adopt this to the natural environment are required before suchapproach for their projects. an approach can be successfully implemented. Thesechanges will be difficult and not sufficient to fulfillThe present special issue is the result of a literature communities’ basic needs if they are not combined withreview of available scientific material concerning natu- efforts geared towards restoring the already substanti-ral capital restoration in arid and semiarid regions. This ally degraded natural capital, which in turn is known totopic has been the focus of numerous studies for several lead to the deterioration of human and social capital. Itdecades that gave rise to the concepts and defi nitions is thus recommended that social capital restoration alsopresented here. Most of these were adapted from the be promoted to ensure that natural capital restorationbook published by Aronsonet al.(2007a), which pools projects will succeed.the contributions of 71 scientists, managers and journa-lists in the fields of ecology, economics and ecological Facilitation of information flow, sharing and communi-economics. cation on the concepts (especially scientifi c) underlyingthe RNC approach is essential. Responses to furtherSeveral sites in arid and semiarid regions throughout questions covered in this special issue, e.g. who shouldthe world are discussed to illustrate the elementary provide investment for restoring natural and socialconcepts of natural capital restoration through virtual capital, or how to provide long-term ecological moni-field visits. These examples are from the book of Clewell toring and follow-up, are provided in previous CSFD& Aronson (2007) that was written to help people invol- special issues. Social demand for the restoration of de-ved in activities of this budding ecological restoration graded ecosystems is generally low despite the ongoingprofession. environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, sopreserving genetic resources should be a key priority toThese areas under harsh climatic conditions have been— ensure that ecological restoration projects will come toand still are to an increasing extent—sites of social fruition.conflict for access to natural resources. The confl icts arefurther aggravated by the extreme poverty and marginalÉdouard Le Floc’hliving conditions that prevail, and triggered mainly byrpoor management of vital natural capital such as water,FormerreFsoerarmcehreC,SCFEDFmE/eCmNbReSr
Restoring Natural Capital in Arid and Semiarid Regions
land and plant resources (rangelands, fuelwood, etc.).Even these very basic needs are currently not being
4Restoring natural capital: an ecologicaland socioeconomic imperative8What is natural capital?
14What does restoring natural capital involve?
18Socioeconomic benefits of restoring naturalcapital in arid regions
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
24Do arid regions warrant RNC investment?
28Prospects: towards a sustainable relationshipbetween humankind and the environment?
30For further information...
35-36Glossary - List of acronyms and abbreviations
Restoring Natural Capital in Arid and Semiarid Regions
Henvironmepollution emission due to the frantic tapping of theseresources are higher than the renewal and absorptionrate ofecosystems. Humanity, for the first time in itshistory, is devouring these reserves, which in turn isgiving rise to tightly linked ecological and humanitariancrises worldwide.An ecological crisis arising from an economic systemThe ecological crisis mainly involves loss ofbio-diversity, shrinkage of natural areas and degradationofecosystem functionality on local, regional andglobal scales (MEA, 2003). The new environmentalconditions created by this crisis have especially led toglobal warming and a reduction in readily accessibledrinking water (Vitouseket al.,1997; Wackernageletal., 2002).It is currently acknowledged that humans—via theeconomic, social and cultural systems and structuresto which they belong—are accountable for thisdegradation (Makhlouf, 1995), despite the directimpacts on humankind, including the worsening ofconflicts for resource access and the loss of naturalgoods and services (e.g. wood supplies, carbonsequestration, etc.). These goods and services providedby ecosystems are nevertheless essential for societiessurvival and development. The ways we utilize anddistribute natural resources therefore have to bereshaped.In the current demographic and economic setting,preservation of natural resources alone is not enoughto fulfil humans’ fundamental needs for goods andservices. Globalnatural capital is actually already
Restoring natural capital:an ecologicaland socioeconomicimperative
too low to continue sustaining most economic systemsin developed countries.Ecological restoration ofdegraded ecosystems is necessary. However, it will befutile if such initiatives are not combined with settingup sustainable resource exploitation systems and ifour consumption habits are not thoroughly modified(Aronsonet al., 2007a). Experience has shown thatrestoration projects are bound to fail if they are notfocused also on rectifying the ways resources areutilized, i.e. the renewed resources will be overtappedand again degraded since the initial causes still persist(Makhlouf, 1995).In arid and semiarid regions, land degradationdue to overuse is often the result of the insecuresocioeconomic conditions that prevail—meeting thebasic food needs of humans and livestock herds is aprime concern.The humanitarian crisis: biosphere degradation dealsa heavy blow to the poorest peopleNatural goods and services are currently exploited anddistributed at the expense of the poorest populationgroups (MEA, 2005). The resulting unfair distributionof profits further accelerates massive ecosystemdegradation. The poorest people are often obliged touse highly environmentally destructive practices to
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