ACSAD Experiences in Desertification Combating and Rehabilitation of Degraded lands.
Farouk Saleh Fares, Gilani Mhimed Abdelgawad, and Abdul Rahim Loulou. ACSAD, Damascus Domma, Damascus, Syria
The Arab center for the studies of Arid Zones and dry lands (ACSAD) was established in 1968 within the framework of the league of Arab States. Some of the main missions of ACSAD were to monitor, assess, and combat desertification in the Arab region. This presentation highlights three projects conducted by ACSAD based upon these missions. The first project was monitoring and combating desertification in the Syrian Steppe (Bishri Mountain). Bishri Mountain makes up a great part of the Syrian Steppe constituting the main grazing area for livestock of the nomads. Degradation of the area was tremendously increased and accelerated by activities of a rapidly growing population and dry ploughing. The main objectives of this project were to formulate a strategy for combating desertification, implementing water harvesting carrying different vegetation rehabilitation measures, and sensitizing decision makers and local population for the degradation processes in the area. Secondly, ACSAD carried out several land degradation studies in the Arab world. As example of this land degradation, a study was carried out in Yemen. Land degradation in Yemen is considered a major problem threatening the stability of ecological systems. Accordingly, ACSAD implemented this project through the following main modules: 1- Human induced soil degradation mapping of Yemen. 2- Building soil and terrain database for the second pilot area in Shabwa, a governorate. 3- Preparing guidelines for monitoring, evaluating and combating land degradation in Yemen. 4- Human and institutional capacity building. The third project was the ACSAD and SRAP program implementation in West Asia. ACSAD has been assigned by UNCCD and designated by GM to support and implement (SRAP) pilot areas in selected countries in West Asia to strengthen the implementation of UNCCD in this sub-region. SRAP includes activities related to degraded land rehabilitation and sustainable management of vegetative cover and water resources, and enhancement of the participatory approach in this region. In conclusion, the main beneficiaries of ACSAD combating desertification projects are the local populations. The implemented measures controlled the effects of the desertification processes, especially wind and water soil erosion. It was noticed that most of the measures implemented were successful and helpful to create local conditions more favorable for soil and water conservation in Arid and semi–Arid Zones and they are transferable to other countries. ACSAD, as a regional center, has started to implement these practices in some selected areas in the Arab States.