Thursday, 13 July 2006 - 11:45 AM

Lessons Learned from a Thematic Network Dealing with Land Degradation Assessment and Soil Conservation Management in the Mediterranean Region.

Pandi Zdruli1, Giuliana Trisorio Liuzzi2, and Cosimo Lacirignola1. (1) CIHEAM-Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, Via Ceglie 9, 70010 Valenzano, Bari, Italy, (2) University of Bari, Faculty of Agriculture, Via Amendola 165/a, 70126 Bari, Italy

The Mediterranean is home of more than 430 million people and the holiday target of some 300 million tourists per year. The majority of the population is concentrated in the coastal zones. The region is regarded as the cradle of European civilisation and possesses an enormous cultural heritage. The history of land management however shows both excellent examples of sustainable land use as well man-made catastrophic events. Land degradation yet remains a threat to natural resources with direct consequences on food security, environmental and political stability. Many North African and Middle Eastern countries drain considerable amounts of their financial resources to fulfil their food needs. Controversially the population trend in Southern Mediterranean is still high with population expected to reach as much as 300 million people by 2030 while land and water is limited. Consequently addressing problems of land degradation become a strategic priority. The European Commission (EC) has been active in the region for decades through the implementation of many projects. However, their impacts have not always been as expected as they were hampered by lack of coordination and information gaps between policy and decision makers, researchers and rural communities. To bridge these gaps the EC funded the MEDCOASTLAND Thematic Network (ICA3-CT-2002-10002) that includes in itself partners from 13 Euro-Mediterranean countries totalling 36 members that represent three levels of decision-making. The project's operational period is 2002-2006. Results show that the fight against land degradation and desertification could be successful if the right balance between bottom-up and top-down management approach enhances income-generating activities. All of these have to be supported by policy instruments and appropriate national/regional guidelines. MEDCOASTLAND has made visible many good examples of sustainable land management through the publication of 5 volumes and additional information downloaded in the Knowledge Database of the project available on the web:

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