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Large-scale mismanagement of natural resources emanating from lack of appropriate policies and regulatory framework is arguably one of the reasons that led to resource degradation and poor livelihoods in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Sustainable rangeland management practices (SRMPs) are considered to be a solution to feed shortages and rangeland degradation. However, the scope for SRMP adoption, has been a subject of debate. Using a case study from Syria and the application of the Minimum Data Analysis method (TOA-MD), this paper provides empirical evidence for ensuring wider adoption of SRMP. The paper argues that the introduction of financial incentives in the form of payments for agricultural-environmental services can increase the economic viability and enhance the adoption of SRMPs and is a better alternative to the unsustainable state subsidies for fodder purchases and barley cultivation on rangelands. Model results indicate that further investment in research toward generating low cost technologies and tailored governance strategies including a financial incentive system would lead to better management of rangelands and improve livelihoods in the Syrian Badia. These findings are valuable for policy makers, donors as well as development and extension practitioners in the MENA region as they can better inform future courses of actions.
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Research article
Financial incentives: Possible options for sustainable rangeland
Mounir Louhaichi
, Yigezu A. Yigezu
, Jutta Werner
, Lojoo Dashtseren
Tamer El-Shater
, Mohamed Ahmed
Internatinal Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Amman, Jordan
Internatinal Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aleppo, Syria
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy
article info
Article history:
Received 18 February 2016
Received in revised form
25 May 2016
Accepted 29 May 2016
Agri-environmental schemes
Dryland ecosystem
Environmental benets
Subsidized fodder
Minimum data
Large-scale mismanagement of natural resources emanating from lack of appropriate policies and reg-
ulatory framework is arguably one of the reasons that led to resource degradation and poor livelihoods in
many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Sustainable rangeland management
practices (SRMPs) are considered to be a solution to feed shortages and rangeland degradation. However,
the scope for SRMP adoption, has been a subject of debate. Using a case study from Syria and the
application of the Minimum Data Analysis method (TOA-MD), this paper provides empirical evidence for
ensuring wider adoption of SRMP. The paper argues that the introduction of nancial incentives in the
form of payments for agricultural-environmental services can increase the economic viability and
enhance the adoption of SRMPs and is a better alternative to the unsustainable state subsidies for fodder
purchases and barley cultivation on rangelands. Model results indicate that further investment in rea-
search toward generating low cost technologies and tailored governance strategies including a nancial
incentive system would lead to better management of rangelands and improve livelihoods in the Syrian
Badia. These ndings are valuable for policy makers, donors as well as development and extension
practitioners in the MENA region as they can better inform future courses of actions.
©2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license
1. Introduction
Rangelands cover more than 40% of the earths surface and two-
thirds of the global dryland area (UNCCD et al., 2009). Rangelands
are both the primary sources of food and feed for livestock pro-
duction and of fuel-wood and medicinal herbs for millions of
resource-poor pastoral and agro-pastoral communities (Louhaichi
et al., 2009). Rangelands also provide an important habitat for
diverse plant and animal species (Trumper et al., 2008).
An over-riding feature of rangeland is their low, but highly
variable, precipitation. In the face of growing animal and human
population pressure, poor management practices, and climate
change, the ecological health of rangelands is in a precarious con-
dition (Han et al., 2008). The increased competition between cereal
production and grazing in low rainfall areas is a further threat to the
traditional nomadic system of drought management and contrib-
utes to the degradation of rangelands (Hazell et al., 2001). Thomas
(2008) denes rangeland degradation as long-term loss of
ecosystem function and productive capacity of rangelands, which
manifests in the reduction of and damage to biophysical, social,
cultural, or economic features (Thomas, 2008).
To encourage domestic production of livestock, many govern-
ments in the dry areas provide highly subsidized forage to livestock
owners. However, these subsidies encourage overstocking and over
grazing and thus are indirectly nancing desertication by
reducing herdersincentives to adapt herd sizes to forage avail-
ability and by encouraging other unsustainable land use practices
such as barley cultivation (Baas et al., 2000; Hazell et al., 2001).
Other institutional and management approaches aimed at
addressing rangeland degradation have been tested in the dry areas
of MENA but their adoption has been limited eadding to the
frustrations of governments and development agencies alike
(Dutilly-Diane et al., 2007).
Over the years, payments for environmental services (PES) and
*Corresponding author. International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry
Areas (ICARDA), P.O. Box 950764, Amman 11195, Jordan.
E-mail address: (M. Louhaichi).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Environmental Management
journal homepage:
0301-4797/©2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503
voluntary agri-environmental schemes have gained momentum as
effective instruments to provide incentives for sustainable man-
agement of ecosystems. Due to their exorbitant costs often related
to high transaction costs (Dunn, 2010), PES agri-environment
schemes frequently emerge as options for high-income countries
only (Donald et al., 2006; Primdahl et al., 2010). However, the
adoption of PES has begun to increase in many developing coun-
tries in recent years (e.g. Dunn, 2010; Fripp, 2014; Codato, 2015).
When compared to the costly state subsidies for fodder in the
MENA region, PES are becoming a more realistic management
alternative. There is now a strong case in favor of replacing state
subsidies with agri-environmental schemes that serve the dual
purposes of providing more fodder and enhancing the sustainable
management of rangelands (Woertz, 2013).
Using a case study from Syria and the Minimum Data Analysis
method (TOA-MD) support this emerging trend and provides
empirical evidence regarding incentive payments and the optimal
amount needed to ensure different adoption levels of SRMP. This
paper thus supports policy and donor decisions that aim at
enhancing the sustainable management of rangelands. The results
of this study will also be useful for development and extension
practitioners in guiding and increasing the efcacy of future in-
terventions for sustainable rangeland management in the dry areas
of the world in general and the MENA region in particular.
2. Description of rangeland management practices in the
study area
2.1. Description of the study area
The case study was conducted in the lowlands of the Syrian
Badia (an Arabic term for steppe), (34
N and 38
The Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (MAAR)
denes the Badia (zone 5) as the driest agricultural zone in Syria e
with a Mediterranean arid climate, exhibiting highly variable and
extreme low precipitation and temperature patterns. Average long-
term annual precipitation is approximately 180 mm, with average,
minimum and maximum annual temperatures of 17.6
C, 2.4
C and
C respectively. The Badia comprises of 10.2 million ha (55% of
the countrys total area of 18.5 million ha) and is the most degraded
ecosystem in Syria.
The Syrian Badia is residence for more than one million nomadic
and transhumant Bedouins Population density stands at about 0.1
persons per ha. Eighty-eight per cent of the active workforce in the
Badia engages in herding. However, about one third of the house-
holds have small herds leaving the pastoralists largely under-
employed. The Badia inhabitants have very limited off-farm
employment opportunities, which leads to impoverished liveli-
hoods. Nonetheless, the pastoral communities in Syria are impor-
tant because they are virtually self-sufcient in terms of daily food
and they supply the urban areas with a great part of their animal
products (Masri, 2006). The rangelands carry approximately 12
million animals (about 10 million sheep, 1.7 million goats and 27
thousand camels) that provide about 15 percent of the nutritional
requirements for sheep in Syria in a normalrainfall year (Vercueil,
2003). Livestock rearing is the main economic activity in the Syrian
Badia, making it the largest farming system (by size) in the country
(Wattenbach, 2006). Barley grain supplement is used for a period of
about 90 days during winter. During the summer, the animals from
the Badia migrate to graze on agricultural residues after harvest in
the higher rainfall zones in the west of the country where wheat,
barley and cotton are grown.
From the legal point of view, the Badia is state-owned land. It is
characterized by hilly, infertile lowlands that harvest scarce rain-
water and accumulate soil and nutrient deposits throughout the
soil prole. Water is the main limiting factor for both crop and
livestock production. Ground water tables are typically very deep
(over 150 m) thus making the use of ground water for agriculture
and land management technically and economically infeasible.
Earth dams and water ponds are the only means of trapping and
holding water from seasonal rainfall and streams in the area, and a
number of dams and water harvesting structures have been con-
structed since 1997 (IFAD, 2012).
2.2. Management of the Syrian Badia
Bedouins cultivate barley in the Badia lowlands because of their
fertile soils and high soil moisture levels. Unlike the practice in
more favorable areas, however, barley is cultivated in the Badia
lowlands every year without crop rotation (Sadiddin and Atiya,
2009). Barley is grown as a multipurpose crop that can be har-
vested as a grain or straw, and grazed as stubble post-harvest
(Thomson, 1985). During drought years, or when crops do not
achieve complete maturity, barley is also grazed during the green
or mature stage. During wet seasons, barley is grazed before har-
vesting and also used for human consumption and malting
(Mustafa et al., 2006). Land preparation for barley cultivation is
done using poly-disk plows which removes perennial and annual
vegetation and so stimulates wind and water erosions, depletes the
remaining soil seed stock, and uplifts the dead soilcontaining
sterile carbonates. The result is a crusted soil that prevents water
inltration and promotes further land degradation (Gintzburger
et al., 2006).
A further negative side effect of barley cultivation is that herders
become tied to one location during cultivation and harvesting, with
livestock feeding effectively tethered to cereal stubble during
summer grazing (Louhaichi and Tastad, 2010). Such reduction and
containment of traditional nomadic herding practices of the
Bedouin leads to concentrated rangeland degradation and, in sum,
indicates that the extensive and increasing cultivation of barley in
the steppe (Sanlaville, 2000) is an important aspect of the
mismanagement of the Syrian Badia.
As a measure of combating rangeland degradation, the Syrian
Government has banned barley cultivation in the Badia since 1995
ea measure that is unique throughout the MENA region. The
government had to deal with the tradeoffs between the two
competing objectives of supporting extensive livestock production
in order to meet the ever-increasing demand for red meat and
controlling livestock production because of rangeland degradation.
Banning barley cultivation in the Badia was a measure that recog-
nized the damaging effects of cereal cultivation on the highly fragile
soils and natural vegetation in these environments (Edward-Jones,
2003). However, a more holistic concept of rangeland management
and rangeland governance was missing and, due to the absence of
viable alternatives for livestock feeding, Bedouins still illegally
cultivate barley, especially in the lowlands.
Recognizing the need to rehabilitate the severely degraded
rangelands and re-establish fodder production, the government
initiated the Badia Rangelands Development Project (BRDP). This
project restored about three million ha of the Badia rangelands
(IFAD, 2010). The project provided all the needed inputs (e.g.,
seedlings, tractors, and irrigation) while the communities partici-
pated physically in implementing the project activities while being
remunerated for their daily labor. This set-up gave the Bedouins a
sense of ownership as they played a key role in a successful project.
2.2.1. Options for sustainable management of rangelands
Prior to project implementation, the common rangeland man-
agement practice was continuous grazing leading to low vegetative
cover, dominance of invasive species and soil crusting. In this study,
M. Louhaichi et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503494
three SRMPs were recommended to the Bedouins as optional
management alternatives to the current system. The three SRMPs
are: periodic resting, direct seeding or broadcast seeding, and shrub
transplantation. These SRMPs increase rangeland productivity
while simultaneously decreasing rangeland degradation. The new
options ensure that natural vegetation, emerging seeds and trans-
planted shrub seedlings receive adequate time to recover and/or
become established between grazing intervals, by herding the
livestock to a different area for grazing. Furthermore, the choice of
plant materials (seeds for broadcasting or shrub seedlings) are
native species which are well adapted to the agro-ecological con-
ditions of the agro-ecosystem. The three SRMPs were the basis for
the ex-ante TOA-MD analysis, by comparing and analyzing which
management practices would be more likely to be adopted (and to
what extent combined) according to the amount of a compensation
payment. These practices were at the same time introduced by the
BRDP project, so the Bedouins interviewed were aware of the
benets of these SRMPs and could see the effects on the ground. Periodic resting. The rst method to improve degraded
lowland rangelands was protection from continuous grazing so as
to provide the natural vegetation with the opportunity for self-
recovery. The protected area was opened for grazing after two
years, followed by controlled grazing twice per year. The dry matter
biomass in protected lowland areas is as high as 2344 kg of dry
matter per hectare (DM/ha) (Louhaichi et al., 2012). This is the least
costly alternative to recover the rangeland (even af ter including the
opportunity cost of production and the cost of forgone production).
Though this alternative is the cheapest and slowest to reach desired
goal, it does lead to site restoration. Direct seeding or broadcasting. The second method was
direct seeding or broadcasting seeds. The only equipment needed
for this method was a tractor that makes shallow scarication of
the soil before broadcasting. This method considerably reduced the
establishment cost of shrub species. The cost of direct seeding was
only one-tenth of that of shrub seedlings transplanting (Osman
et al., 2006), and its implementation was only 6% of the improved
rangeland establishment cost (Table 1). The risk of direct seeding is
its dependence on rainfall to encourage germination and whether
the rangeland is protected from grazing for a sufcient period,
before the rehabilitated land can be used for grazing. Nevertheless,
direct seeding lead to an average DM yield for shrubs of about
550 kg DM/ha in autumn and 65 kg DM/ha in spring, and inter-
space vegetation biomass of 2344 kg DM/ha eequivalent to that
of periodic resting, which adds up to 2944 kg DM/ha. Shrub transplantation. Shrub transplantation involved
growing shrub seedlings in a nursery and transplanting them into
deep ripped furrows in at areas or contour lines for sloping land.
The main cost items in shrub transplantation were the cost of
seedling production followed by irrigation and associated labor
cost (Table 2). Depending on the season of transplantation, only one
or two rounds of irrigation were necessary during the establish-
ment phase. Once the rangeland was rehabilitated, rational grazing
and minimum maintenance were the only operational costs. In
previous and on-going development projects, the survival rate of
transplanted shrub seedlings has exceeded 90%. One should note
that this SRMP is the most expensive rehabilitation measure
compared to the other options. Nonetheless, most rangeland
rehabilitation projects in the MENA region choose this practice as it
leads to the highest biomass productivity in a short time.
3. Methods
The biophysical and ecological benets of the SRMPs of shrub
transplanting, direct seeding, and periodic resting are well docu-
mented in the literature (Louhaichi et al., 2012, 2014; Minnick and
Alward, 2012). However, the literature regarding their economic
benets as well as their potential for adoption, especially in the dry
areas of the MENA region, is scanty. This paper uses the TOA-MD
approach (Antle and Valdivia, 2006) for an ex-ante analysis of the
economic returns and the potential for adoption of SRMP in the
Syrian Badia. The TOA-MD approach has already been used in a
number of studies which analyze the economic viability of the
introduction of different new technologies or practices and the role
of PES in enhancing their adoption (Adiku et al., 2015; Rao et al.,
2015; Homann-Kee Tui et al., 2014, Ilukor et al., 2014; Antle et al.,
2010; Torero et al., 2010; Claessens et al., 2009).
Analysis using TOA-MD is based on comparing benets and
costs, where decision makers are assumed to choose among alter-
native SRMPs based purely on the superiority in their net returns.
While this is true of virtually all economic analysis based on an
economic rationality assumption, the TOA-MD is unique in that the
analysis of choices is performed for a population of farms. Thus, it is
based on the parsimonious characterization of the distribution of
returns in the population (Antle and Valdivia, 2006) where it is
designed to take into account spatial heterogeneity within the
population (Claessens et al., 2009).
Despite the lower level of accuracy compared to more rigorous
and more complex mathematical programming and simulation
models, the difculty of quantifying the magnitudes of a large
number of sources of uncertainty give the TOA-MD approach a
considerable advantage. Its timeliness, low cost of implementation,
and its simplicity and transparency make it an attractive method to
apply in data-scarce contexts (Antle and Valdivia, 2006). By making
an assumption about the distribution of the opportunity cost of
adoption for each stratum of the population (as dened by the
Table 1
Establishment cost for 1 ha of improved rangeland by direct seeding.
Costs Quantity Price (SYP/ha)
Costs (SYP)
Seed rate (kg/ha) 7 64.6 452
Tractor 1 50.0 50
Labor 15.0 15
Protection 336.0 336
Total 853
For direct seeding, different shrub seeds are equally mixed: Salsola vermiculata,
Atriplex leucoclada,A. halimus,A. canescens, and Haloxylon persicum. The unit price is
the arithmetic mean of the unit prices of these shrubs.
Equivalent to ~US$19.
Source: Unpublished data from BRDP (2010)
Table 2
Investment cost for improved rangeland with shrub transplantation.
Costs Quantity Cost (SYP)
Nursery cost for seedlings 450 seedlings 4050
Labor cost for planting 10 person-hours 3500
Cost of equipment for planting 3000
Irrigation 2 times 3000e3500
Protection 336
Maintenance Negligible
Total 17,750e18,250
Calculated from the monthly salary of a worker.
Irrigation costs vary slightly according to rainfall.
For an area of 500 ha usually two guards are hired throughout a year, with
monthly salary of 7000 SYP.
Approximately US$300e313/ha.
Source: Unpublished data from BRDP (2010)
M. Louhaichi et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503 495
analyst), the TOA-MD model generates predictions of adoption
under different scenarios. TOA-MD is well suited to address the
uncertainty in potential adoption or impact assessments where
sensitivity analysis explores how results change with different
Agent-based models and household models using mathematical
programing and stochastic dynamic programing would have been
the models of choice for this analysis. Such models would be able to
capture the interactions between agents, the risk behavior and
optimization by Bedouin households in the face of the stochastic
nature of production and the dynamic decision making process
needed in response to farming and the evolution of the natural
resource (particularly soil properties) over time. However, given
the limited data available for this study and the merits listed above,
the TOA-MD model is selected as an option of last resort for this
There is a large body of literature on factors affecting the
adoption of new agricultural technologies or practices. Most of
these studies identied farmer and farm characteristics, awareness
about the new technologies, and access to information, seed,
extension services and credit as important determinants of adop-
tion (Shiferaw et al., 2008; Vitale et al., 2011; Baumgart-Getz et al.,
2012; El-Shater et al., 2016). All these studies assume the economic
superiority of the new technologies/practices over traditional
practices, which may not always be true as well as easily adopted.
However, in this particular case, the validity of the use of the TOA-
MD model, with the underlying assumption of economic rationale
as the only decision criteria for adoption, can be justied on various
grounds. 1) The BRDP project, which introduced the SRMPs, has
been working on the ground for over 10 years during which these
practices were popularized among all the project communities
using large scale demonstration trials, eld days and community
meetings. Therefore, all Bedouins were familiar with and have rst-
hand experience on the SRMPs thereby reducing the information
gap among farmers. 2) The Bedouins are highly mobile in response
to rain events and the Badia is a highly degraded land with little
vegetative cover. Therefore, there is small (if at all) variability in
terms of land characteristics, farmersaccess to credit and exten-
sion services. 3) More importantly, the Bedouinspreference of the
SRMP over the continuous grazing has already been established
where all of the community members were enjoying the benets
over the projects lifetime.
Supply, and hence market prices of forage, depend heavily on
the annual climatic conditions and season of the year, and have
huge implications and importance for herdersproduction and
marketing decisions. While seasonal price variations are important,
the pastoral communities in the Badia often play a passive role e
being price takers as net-buyers of animal feed with no alternative
source of feed. Therefore, this analysis ignores seasonal price
Suppose that:
trepresents the time period (t ¼1isrst year, t ¼2 is second
year, ., t ¼T is the period after T years from the start);
s represents the state of nature under consideration dened
mainly based on farmersperceptions on the levels of precipi-
tation (s ¼1 is a bad year, t ¼2 is an average year, and t ¼3isa
good year);
irepresents a single farmer i;
represents output price levels in year tand state of nature s;
hrepresents the different rangeland management practices
(RMP) where h¼1 represents the current practices of open
grazing and barley cultivation; and h ¼2e4 represent the
adoption of the new sustainable rangeland management
practices, where h ¼2 represents shrub transplantation, h ¼3
represents shrub direct seeding, and h ¼4 represents resting
¼yield obtained by farmer iusing SRMP of hin period tand
state of nature s;
¼total production cost of farmer iusing SRMP of hin state of
nature s(note here that the subscript sis not used because
production costs are assumed to be the same across all states of
nature as the main costs are incurred at planting before the
realization of weather);
represents net returns per hectare for farmer i using SRMP
of h in period t and state of nature s note that ¼v
is a function
of p
iht (i.e.,
Given the climatic risks with the different states of nature s, the
expected value (in dollars per hectare) of discounted net returns for
farmer iusing the SRMP hover Ttime periods is given by:
Þ (1)
represents the annual discount factor which is given by
ris the discount rate (assumed to be constant across years), and
¼the probability of state of nature s where probability of
bad,average and good states of nature respectively are
¼)¼0.48; prob
¼0.35; and prob
¼0.17. These proba-
bilities were obtained from the survey, which solicited Bed-
ouinsperceptions concerning the distribution of rainfall across
Even though the cost of production c
is assumed constant
across different states of nature s, it varies across years (especially
for shrub production, which occurs across many years), and can be
expressed as follows:
where vc
is variable cost which is proportional to the amounts of
inputs used in production by farmer iin period tusing production
system hand F
is a xed (one-time) cost which takes the value of
zero for h¼1, because the xed costs under the current production
system are considered as sunk costs; and it takes the value equal to
the xed cost of adopting the new production system for h¼2, or 3,
or 4.
Supposing the opportunity cost of technology hfor farmer iis
given by w
, then the expected opportunity cost of adopting the
new production system (of for example h ¼2) on one hectare of
land can be computed as:
where, w
Where FB
is the sum of forgone benets resulting from the
decision to continue using the old practice and FB
is the sum of
forgone benets resulting from the decision to adopt the new SRMP
(of say shrub transplanting).
Based on this formulation, farmer iadopts the SRMP if and only
if W
<0. Otherwise, he/she continues to use only the traditional
rangeland management practices (TRMPs).
If the social (and environmental) benets of the SRMP exceed
their private benets, and the private benet of the TRMP is higher
M. Louhaichi et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503496
than the SRMP, then incentivizing farmers with some form of
payment may encourage adoption of the new SRMP. As discussed in
the introduction, this approach alternatively called PESor pay-
ments for agri-environmental servicesis gaining momentum in
the literature as an effective way of enhancing ecologically friendly
and sustainable management of natural resources and the envi-
ronment. In this framework, farmers are compensated for the ser-
vices they provide by adopting environmentally friendly
production practices (Ferraro and Kiss, 2007; Lipper et al., 2010). In
this paper, given the opportunity cost of adopting the new tech-
nology options W
, we evaluate the effect of such payments and
attempt to determine the minimum incentive payment g(in dol-
) that will ensure the desired individual adoption rate R
for the different SRMP.
The opportunity cost of adopting the SRMPs varies from one site
to another. Assuming that the spatial distribution of the opportu-
nity cost of adoption follows a normal distribution with a density
(w), the adoption rate Rof the SRMP can be calculated by
ordering the various w
for given prices p. Thus, Rof the SRMP in the
population with incentive level of gcan be calculated as:
RðgÞ¼ Z
R(0) represents the adoption rate with no incentive payments.
With an incentive payment level of g, the decision to adopt or not
will be based on whether W
g0 (i.e., SRMP is at least as
protable as TRMP for farmer ieven with the incentive payment for
adopting the new production system) or W
g<0, implying that
the SRMP is more protable than the TRMP when considering the
incentive. Assuming that c
and c
are constants, and given the
identity in Equation (3), it follows that:
where the spatial heterogeneity of yield from the TRMP (
The recommended shrubs species under the new SRMP were
chosen for their specic qualities of drought tolerance and yield
variability reduction. Hence, they are expected to increase farmers
resilience to weather and climate change variability. However, data
on yield variability due to soil and weather conditions and hence
spatial heterogeneity associated with the SRMP (
) and the spatial
correlation between returns to alternative practices (
) are not
available. Hence, for the purpose of this analysis, we assume that
each of the SRMP does not have any impact on yield variability, i.e.,
and there is no spatial correlation between
the returns to the two alternative production systems (
¼0 for
i¼2, 3, and 4). By making these assumptions, we are making the
variance of net returns to the new production system (
for i ¼2, 3,
and 4) high. With these assumptions which in effect ignore some of
the most important benets of the SRMP, the model will under-
estimate the potential adoption rates. Thus, the estimated net
returns and adoption gures obtained from our model results will
represent the minimum net returns and adoption levels that can be
expected under different PES scenarios.
Depending on the technologies chosen, rehabilitation of
degraded rangelands needs at least 2e3 years for establishment
before being opened for grazing. Hence, a reasonable assessment of
the economic viability of such interventions can be done only in the
long term. Therefore, this study assumes that the decision to adopt
SRMP is based on the relative size of the NPV of the sum of net
returns from the different SRMP available to the farmer over 10
To compare forage production (biomass) from the different
SRMP, every unit of fodder shrub is converted to a feed unit that is
equivalent to barley. A number of feed evaluation systems have
been developed over the years. In this study the Scandinavian feed
unit (Sundstøl, 1993), which equals to 1 kg barley as a feed unit is
used. To convert 1 kg of DM yield into barley grain equivalent, we
use the feeding value of Atriplex species, which is estimated at
0.35 kg feed units per kg of DM (Shideed et al., 2005) as a coef-
cient. Hence, the DM yield of an improved lowland rangeland site is
approximately 1750 kg/ha, 900 kg/ha, and 780 kg/ha barley grain
per year in good, average, and bad years, respectively. Then, the
market price of barley is used to calculate the corresponding eco-
nomic value of biomass production from rangelands.
4. Data
Data from a random sample of 25 communities from two dis-
tricts within the Aleppo Province of Syria was used for the ex-ante
assessment of the adoption potential of SRMP, popularized among
the Bedouins by the BRDP project. This enabled the Bedouins to
evaluate interest in and possible adoption of these practices by
taking into account the circumstances governing their livelihoods,
property rights and alternative land use practices.
The study focused Bedouin communities having in total just
under 6000 people and living in representative lowland Badia en-
vironments. It is asserted, therefore, that although the demographic
and geographic parameters for the study are limited, they are suf-
cient to provide useful and reliable insights into herder land
management practices, perceptions of those practices and the
environmental factors that inuence those practices.
The data from the 25 communities were collected using a
structured survey questionnaire administered in focus group dis-
cussions in 2010. In each community, 6e10 Bedouin household
heads were invited to a meeting where the questions were asked by
the enumerator and answers were provided after a discussion by all
respondents. When multiple answers were received from re-
spondents the enumerator would ask all those present to discuss
and take notes on the discussion in order to identify and analyze
the reasons for the different perceptions. Data collected included
demography for the typical household in each community, sub-
jective characterization of the biophysical conditions of the natural
resources and past and current land use dynamics. Bedouinsper-
ceptions about drought years and good years, seasonal and annual
rainfall uctuations, rangeland degradation and rangeland reha-
bilitation, as well as yield and cost of barley production were also
collected. The cost of adopting and using the SRMP was collected
from the BRDP project.
To ensure common understanding of the different weather
classications among all participants in the focus group discus-
sions, a good year was dened as one with sufcient rain (over
250 mm) for farmers to graze their livestock on green-stage barley
and still be able to harvest barley grain later during the season. An
average year was dened as one for which rainfall was medium
(between 180 and 250 mm), where barley grain yield was low and
no green-stage grazing was possible earlier in the season. Drought
or bad years were those during which rainfall was very low (less
than 180 mm) and farmers could at best expect a minimal amount
of matured barley crops for grazing their livestock later in the
season, or otherwise would expect a total loss.
The use of Bedouinsperceptions is an important aspect of this
paper, as their decisions including technology adoption are mainly
determined by what they perceive and not necessarily by facts of
The distribution of the opportunity cost will shift to g.
M. Louhaichi et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503 497
weather or technological considerations (Adesina and Baidu-
Forson, 1995; Wubeneh and Sanders, 2006). Bedouinsperceptions
were compared to available scientic data and the reasons for de-
viations were analyzed.
A total of 5780 inhabitants live in the 25 communities selected
for study. The minimum, average and maximum number of in-
habitants per community is 170, 635, and 1255 respectively. The
total land area of lowlands occupied by the communities is about
1808 ha, of which 590 ha (32%) is cultivated with barley. Survey
results show that each community has lowlands that are partly
used by herders for grazing and partly for barley cultivation. The
selected sample communities cultivate 17e32% of their lowlands.
The large difference in proportions of cultivated area is due to the
landscape features of each lowlands, as these are formed naturally
over long periods.
The soils in all 25 communities are homogenous and key in-
formants describe them as about 15 cm deep with surroundings of
gentle slopes in the range of 5e10
. Moreover, 76% of the in-
formants describe the soils as having high moisture while 92%
describe them as fertile and rich in organic material. Fourteen of the
pastoral communities (over 50%) believe that there is severe
degradation and serious overgrazing in lowland sites of the com-
munity; nine (36%) think it is only moderately degraded, and the
remaining two (8%) believe that their pastures are protected.
Concerning the main causes of lowland degradation, 16 commu-
nities (64%) think that recurrent droughts in recent years had very
high inuences. As for the causes of low seed germination, seven
communities (28%) think that a lack of alternative grazing is an
important factor and six (24%) believe that crusting of the soil
surface is a factor for non-cultivation of some areas.
According to the perceptions of the herders, the chances of good,
average, and bad years are 17%, 35%, and 48%, respectively (Table 3).
The interviewed Bedouin communities think that rainfall is too low
for crops to grow in the Badia in nine out of 10 years. Science
concurs with this view, estimating the occurrence of years in which
the rainfall is too low (less than 150 mm) for cropping is nine out of
10 in areas (Sanlaville, 2000). Since 2005 the annual precipitation
in the Syrian Badia has only exceeded 150 mm in 2009 and then by
just 10 mm (Fig. 1).
A comparison between the actual rainfall data from the Badia for
the years 1996e2010 (Fig. 1) and the perceptions of the Bedouins
reveals that the Bedouins have an accurate understanding of the
distribution of rainfall. Their estimates of probabilities of good and
average weather years were underestimated by only three and
eight percentage points, while that of bad was overestimated by
about six percentage points. During 2005e2010, the annual rainfall
was below the long-term average annual precipitation of 180 mm,
conrming the herdersnecessity to sell their herds and migrate to
urban areas during this period. The Bedouins indicate that before
2005, they had to sell their herds because of climate changeand
degradationof the Badia eindicating a strong subjective appre-
ciation of environmental degradation of the Badia over the last 10
years. During the focus group discussions, the participants
expressed that in the last 10 years many Bedouins were forced to
sell their entire herd and move to urban areas to nd alternative
livelihood opportunities because of drought. In the study commu-
nities, the average herd size decreased from 448 (15 years ago), to
208 (5 years ago) (Table 3). The Bedouins clearly described the
extremely negative effects of the drought years and the conse-
quences of greater rangeland degradation. Among the 25 sample
communities, only two communities received monthly income
from the government, while the remainder did not have off-farm
employment opportunities and hence, no other sources of in-
come. The fact that the large majority of the Bedouins do not have
other household income sources than agro-pastoralism illustrates
how fragile their situation became after several drought years and
how much this increased livelihoods risks.
In the interviewed communities, barley is cultivated in the
lowland every year without rotation. All agricultural operations for
barley production are mechanized, however, fertilizer is not used
and paid labor is uncommon. In most cases, the cost for seed
transportation is about 2% of the total production cost. In bad years,
Bedouins often lose the entire crop and only get some green barley
for livestock grazing in very good years. In average and good years,
farmers harvest barley as well as straw. They also graze or rent
barley stubble for grazing, the revenue from which varies greatly
from one farmer to another. Any nancial advantage is however off
set by additional harvesting costs that include rental of combine
harvesters and grain bags. Harvesting costs are nearly half of the
entire barley production costs (Table 4).
Given the exceptional water harvesting capacity of lowlands,
barley yields in the lowlands are often higher than rain-fed culti-
vation in the Badia and can be compared with irrigated cultivation
yields in certain cases. For example, an average seeding rate of
126 kg/ha, grain yields in the good years can reach up to 4000 kg/
ha, with an average of about 1500 kg/ha. In average years, however,
the average yield is about 721 kg/ha. Data from experimental sta-
tions and surveys show that the average yield for cultivated barley
without rotation and fertilization in the Badia is 450 kg/ha with
920 kg straw/ha and 570 kg/ha on the frontier of the Badia in
Aleppo Province (Thomson, 1985). The national average yield of
barley is around 680 kg/ha (Sadiddin and Atiya, 2009). Neverthe-
less, Mustafa et al. (2006) reported yields as high as 5000 kg/ha on
fertile land and up to 1500 kg/ha in the driest areas in very good
During the survey for this research it became clear that the
Bedouins have very limited access to ofcial credit. This limitation
Table 3
Pastoral communitiescharacteristics.
Average Min. Max.
Age 55 30 89
Family size 9 4 14
Number of sheep 115 10 400
Number of sheep 15 years ago 448 75 1200
Number of sheep 5 years ago 208 60 800
Perceived number of good seasons in 10 years
1.7 1 3
Perceived number of average seasons in 10 years
3.5 1 6
Perceived number of bad seasons in 10 years
4.8 2 8
Number of lowlands in the sample 79
Number of lowlands cultivated prior to cultivation ban 72
Number of lowlands cultivated this year 50
Averages for all 25 pastoral communities.
Source: Survey 2010
Fig. 1. Annual precipitation at Maragha, North Syria, during 1996e2010.
M. Louhaichi et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503498
means that as the Badia is state owned land the ability of the
Bedouin to use it as collateral is equally limited. The land tenure also
means that any nancial incentives from government that may
relate to land management and land use are not perceived to have
particular economic benetethis is one further reason why Bed-
ouins do not adopt SRMPs but prefer barley cultivation. Instead
famers establish partnerships with nancers (or investors or
lenders) in the city who can fund barley cultivation on the fertile
lowlands. In these nancial arrangements production risks are
either shared with or at times borne by the investor. As a result,
Bedouins are inclined to cultivate barley even if, in most cases, they
sustain a total loss due to bad weather. Such arrangements between
Bedouins and nanciers have become common and have existed for
a long time and indicate that barley cultivation bans have had
minimal impact on the amount of crop cultivation in the lowlands
(Table 3). Before the ban, for example, 72 out of 79 lowlands of the
sample were cultivated and, after the ban, 50 were still cultivated.
The full extent of Bedouins preference for barley cultivation became
clear after the civil unrest in 2011. After that time the Bedouins
thought the Syrian Government had lost control over the Badia and
thus could no longer enforce the barley cultivation ban. During the
research visits to the Badia in 2012, it became clear that, the Badia
had been to a large extend distributed by the Bedouins into indi-
vidual marked elds for barley cultivation. An analysis of Bedouins
strong preference for barley cultivation shows also that traditional
rangeland governance which gall under SRMPs are still known by
the Bedouins but no longer practiced as they feel that the ownership
of the Badia belongs to the government and not to themselves.
5. Results and discussion
5.1. Potential for the adoption of sustainable rangeland
management practices
This section presents the TOA-MD model results. The potentials
for the adoption of the three SRMPs under different levels of
incentive payments are analyzed.
5.1.1. Net present value (NPV)
Open grazing and barley cultivation dominate current land use.
This study therefore compares the protability of the three new
methods (shrub transplantation, direct seeding, and temporary
resting or controlled grazing) for improving productivity of
degraded lowlands relative to the status quo (i.e., open grazing and
barley cultivation). We assume that the establishment cost of
improved rangeland is a suitable proxy for the xed one-time cost
of adopting the new production system that has to be incurred
upfront. The only xed cost of adoption of the new technologies is
the cost of supplementary feeding during the rst two years before
the shrubs are well established. Barley yield in the sample is highly
dispersed around its mean with coefcient of variation (CV) of
0.7e1.11, whereas CVs of shrub yield in the different villages were in
the range of 0.12e0.18.
Given the long period needed for full rehabilitation of range-
lands, a farmers decision to adopt the new agricultural practices is
regarded as a long-term investment decision. Hence, discount rates
are used to compute the NPVs of the streams of costs and incomes.
The discount rate for Syria for the period prior to 2010 was 5% (IES,
2010). The interest rate on time deposits in the country during the
study period was in the range of 6e10% (Central Bank of Syria,
2010). Given that the decision makers in the present study are
resource-poor Bedouin herders who are used to a very mobile life
style and, hence, likely have a strong preference for the present
with limited access to credit facilities, the upper limit of the range
for interest rates (10%) is used in this study for discounting. How-
ever, to see the effect of discount rate on adoption decisions, sim-
ulations are also made using a discount rate of 5% and the results
are consistent with only slight shift of the curves to the right.
The expected NPVs of revenues and costs of different RMPs are
used for estimation of the adoption rates for the different practices.
Even though open grazing has no cost, it is the practice with the
least NPV of net returns (Table 5). Given the NPV of the expected
net returns, the economically optimal adoption rates of the SRMP of
transplantation, broadcasting, and resting are 10, 50, and 20%,
respectively. However, compared to barley cultivation, the differ-
ence in the NPVs for the other practices are less than that of open
The minimum incentive payment denoted in the model by g
(measured in SYP/ha) is computed in this study as the difference
between the rates of returns of the two competing RMPs. This
amount can be understood as the minimum amount of payment
that farmers should be paid in order to make them equivalent to the
traditional practice (particularly barley cultivation) and the SRMPs.
Improved rangeland provides several environmental services such
as carbon sequestration, in situ conservation of biodiversity,
reduced wind erosion, higher water productivity and ood erosion
control (Dutilly-Diane et al., 2006). Therefore, the minimum
incentive payment represents the level of payment that needs to be
paid to encourage the farmers to adopt the environmentally sus-
tainable production systems.
Table 4
Barley production data.
Production input/output Unit Average Std. dev. Min Max
Total area of lowlands ha 72 60 10 250
Cultivated lowlands ha 24 11 10 77
Seed rate kg/ha 126 23 100 200
Cost without harvesting SYP/ha 1580 515 1037 2463
Cost with harvesting SYP/ha 3016 378 2207 4060
Barley grain yield (good year) kg/ha 1492 1140 240 4000
Barley grain yield (average year) kg/ha 721 854 0 3000
Barley straw yield (good year) kg/ha 583
Barley straw yield (average year) kg/ha 397
Barley price (good year) SYP/kg 10 1 8 13
Barley price (average year) SYP/kg 11 0.5 10 13
Barley price (drought year) SYP/kg 15 4 11 22
Stubble (straw) grazing, barley
SYP/ha 2500e3000
Stubble (barley) grazing, average year
SYP/ha 2000
Grazing is before harvesting.
Grazing is after harvesting.
Source: Survey 2010; 1 SYP ¼US$0.02.
M. Louhaichi et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503 499
Model results show that nancial incentives lead to higher
adoption of the three tested SRMPs: shrub transplantation, direct
seeding, and periodical resting (Fig. 2). In Fig. 2, the left extreme
curve represents the possible adoption levels for the SRMP of
transplantation under different PES scenarios. For instance, an
incentive payment of only about 1000 SYP (or US$20) per ha per
year would make transplanting more attractive than barley culti-
vation for 30% of the rangelands while PES of 7000 SYP (US$140)
and 13,000 SYP or (US$260) per ha per year would increase the
adoption rates to 60% and almost a 100%. The corresponding gures
for direct seeding (right extreme curve in Fig. 2) would be 60%, 85%
and a 100% respectively showing that resting has higher potential
for adoption than transplantation at any level of PES. These results
show that increasing the levels of incentive payments for the
different management practices lead to higher adoption rates and
that economic disincentives are barriers to adoption.
A major barrier to adoption relates to socio-cultural consider-
ations and lack of adequate extension and institutional support. The
socio-cultural considerations include the fact that barley cultivation
is used both as a means to overcome short term forage problems
and a means to control or appropriate the common pasture.
Because the land tenure status of the Badia is common open ac-
cessrangeland, entitled local users cannot prevent other non-
entitled users from grazing the land, unless they cultivate it with
barley. This means that due to lack of functioning rangeland
governance, the legal status of rangelands presents a tenurial
impediment to SRMPs. Furthermore, there is a perception amongst
the Bedouins that the nutritional value and digestibility of fodder
shrubs is low compared to barley. As a consequence they have less
desire to adopt SRMPs as a substitute for barley cultivation.
5.1.2. Sensitivity analysis
Depending on the precision of measurement, scale and func-
tional forms, certain parameters could be driving model results into
one direction or the other. As a result, an ex-ante analysis of the
potential for adoption of the SRMPs requires simulation of the
model using different values of important variables such as prices,
rangeland rehabilitation costs, and the discount rate (Fig. 3). Fig. 3
starts with the premises that: 1) rangeland rehabilitation by shrub
transplantation is more costly than the other methods in general
and the current practices of barley cultivation and open grazing in
particular; and 2) cost-reducing measures are conceivable and
likely to enhance its adoption. In this Figure, the rst curve (left
extreme) represents possible adoption levels of the new sustain-
able rangeland management practices (SRMP) if cost of adoption of
the SRMP is equivalent to thatincurred by the project (which is also
used in this analysis to produce the results presented above).
Without any incentive payments (current scenario), the adoption
level for the SRMP is 10%. The question then presents itself as to
how adoption of the SRMP would change if the cost of adoptionwas
reduced? In answer to this we found a 10% cut in the establishment
cost would see farmers adopt shrub transplantation on 55% of the
lowland sites (Fig. 2: the curve representing the possible adoption
levels shifts to right (second curve from the right)). In addition it is
apparent that a 15% cut in the cost of adoption of the SRMP would
result in an adoption rate of 65% (Fig. 2: the second curve from left
shows that), while a 20% cut would increase the adoption rate to
73%. If the cost reductions were to be coupled with PES, the curves
demonstrate that adoption levels increase substantially where a
complete removal of the cost of adoption (i.e., 100% subsidy on the
cost of adoption of SRMP) would lead to 100% adoption of all the
5.2. Discussion
Through minimum data ex-ante modeling and in-depth focus
group discussions with Bedouins, this study revealed that: 1)
despite their traditional knowledge of advantageous principles of
sustainable rangeland management, Bedouins did not change their
Table 5
Average net present values (NPVs) of costs and revenues.
Production systems Open grazing Barley cultivation Shrub plantation Reseeding Resting
NPV of expected revenue 18,639 63,398 64,547 64,808 51,885
NPV of expected cost
0 16,505 25,000 11,788 9114
NPV of expected net return 18,639 46,894 39,547 53,020 42,771
NPVs of expected cost are calculated for the shrub transplantation, reseeding, and resting after adding the value of barley yield lost for two years until the seedlings
establish well.
Source: Authorscalculation from survey data 2010.
Fig. 2. Effect of cost reduction for transplantation. Fig. 3. Response of expected adoption rates to different levels of incentives.
M. Louhaichi et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503500
unsustainable practices without receiving payments; 2) rangeland
degradation in drought years had a severe impact on Bedouins
livelihoods and led to migration and conict; 3) modest incentive
payments would make SRMP more attractive than barley cultiva-
tion and, thus, contribute to restoration of degraded rangelands.
Furthermore, the ndings of this paper provide novel insights into
how an ex-ante analysis of the impacts of nancial incentives on
rangeland management can be modeled in circumstances where
only scarce information is available.
The rst nding revealed a discrepancy between Bedouins
traditional norms of sustainable natural resource management and
their actual behavior. This corresponds to empirical ndings on
sustainable management in other areas. Olbrich et al. (2014) for
example, found no evidence of a signicant change in actual land
management behavior in a sample of commercial Namibian
dryland cattle farmers despite their knowledge of SRMPs. Similar to
the ndings from the Namibian study, we hypothesize that the
discrepancy between the existing norms and the actual behavior is
because Bedouins pursue short-term prot in response to a
perception that the Government is responsible for the management
of the Badia and not themselves.
In terms of the social and economic consequences of poor long-
term government policy, agricultural practice and rangeland
management, it is of interest that Brzoska and Fr
ohlich (2015) and
Koubi et al. (2012) found that severe rangeland degradation is a
trigger for conict at the local level. Such conicts, they found, are
both local and systemic epart of a system of conict that has
regional and, ultimately, national expression (see also Bromwich,
2009). Analyses of the relationship between unsustainable range-
land management, rangeland degradation, and conict (in regional
dryland contexts) show that while the causes of rangeland degra-
dation in many developing countries are complex, degradation can
be both a cause and a result of such conict and is preventable with
sound land management practices (Suliman, 2011; Bedunah and
Angerer, 2012; Jacobs and Schloeder, 2012). Having said this,
however, Brzoska and Fr
ohlich (2015) and Koubi et al. (2012) also
argue that their ndings do not describe a correlation between
rangeland degradation and the violent conict in Syria. This link is
qualied by other determinants such as climate change and
migration, and are, in any case, so complex that they defy a simple
causal relationship. Thus while their ndings describe an important
pattern, any correlations and consequential considerations require
more research. That said, it is our view that the study reported here
reveals that severe rangeland degradation (and any risks of atten-
dant socio-economic hardship and conict) could be signicantly
alleviated with appropriate rangeland restoration and governance.
The nding is noteworthy in the pre-war Syrian context where very
little attention was given to SRMP by governments and interna-
tional donor agencies (Dougill et al., 2012; Veldman et al., 2015).
Combating rangeland degradation necessitates the embodiment
of biophysical solutions that are embedded on the ground along
within an enabling socio-economic environment (Baartman et al.,
2007). One important factor of such an enabling environment is
nancial incentives to solicit or enhance the support of local
stakeholders. Such incentives have become increasingly important
in the MENA region (Baartman et al., 2007). Model results clearly
show that nancial incentives are the key to the adoption of the
three proven SRMP, each of which lead to improved land man-
agement and related productivity and, implicitly, reduced local
conict over scarce resources. The results of the ex-ante evaluation
of adoption rate for SRMPs of lowlands demonstrate that despite
the high potential yield of barley cultivation in these fertile low-
lands, rehabilitated rangelands are more protable for rangeland-
based livestock production. Even without considering the envi-
ronmental benets and sustainability of improved rangeland, the
mere introduction of the improved technologies may lead to
adoption rates of 10, 50, and 20% for shrub transplantation, direct
seeding, and periodic resting, respectively, when compared with
barley cultivation.
The study conrmed the theoretical expectation that higher
nancial incentives lead to higher adoption rate of technologies for
sustainable natural resources management. However, the condi-
tions and concomitant requirements of rangelands are specic
compared to other agricultural lands, because of the necessity of
both security and exibility for access, also described in the liter-
ature as the paradox of pastoral land tenure(Fern
2002; Fern
enez and Le Febre, 2006). While nancial
payments will provide good incentives for enhancing adoption of
SRMPs, we believe that they need to be accompanied with insti-
tutional arrangements that enhance good governance. By drawing
lessons from existing PES of forest areas, Dougill et al. (2012) nd
that for the success of PES schemes on rangelands, strong existing
local institutions, clear land tenure, community control over land
management and exible payment schemes are vital.
The results of this study can be a rst step towards a regional
policy change away from barley subsidies as a strategy for sup-
porting dryland rangeland users. The fact that governments could
cost-effectively transform funds used for forage subsidies into
agricultural-environmental payments should be a strong motiva-
tion for the governments to invest directly and much more sus-
tainably in changing range management practices.
Some countries in the region have already started looking along
those lines. For instance, discussions about sustainable investment
in rangelands started in Jordan in 2014 regarding the use of
incentive payments, strategies for increasing biodiversity and soil
carbon sequestration as well as land degradation neutrality (Myint
and Westerberg, 2015). It is also apparent that effective SRMP is a
strong pillar for social stability. Following the civil unrest in Algeria,
for example, most rural population living in remote areas have
migrated to cities and urban areas. It was then found that as villages
were deserted and village society was disrupted, terrorism spread.
Thus, there is a need to have people occupy land and have access to
services that assist them to do so. For this reason, the government
of Algeria has put in place a strategy that aimed at reviving village
economical and social life eand the return to stable social and
political conditions (personnel communication).
The combined experience matched with the results of this study
therefore provide valuable information for policy makers, donors as
well as development and extension practitioners in the MENA re-
gion to the effect that further investment in reasearch towards
generating low cost technologies and tailored governance strate-
gies including a nancial incentive system would lead to better
management of rangelands and improvement of livelihoods.
6. Conclusions
In many countries in the MENA region, rangelands in the
dryland areas are either communally or state owned. The main land
use practices in the Badia are continuous grazing and cultivation of
barley, which over the long run, degrade land and contribute to
irreversible loss in biodiversity. A number of proven technologies e
such as fodder shrub transplantation, direct seeding and periodic
resting eare available and can reverse the degradation process
while providing protein-rich livestock forage. However, these new
management techniques have some short-term costs that neces-
sitate compensatory and incentive arrangements if Bedouins are to
nd SRMP attractive.
Using a Syrian case study and the Minimum Data Analysis (TOA-
MD) model, this study provided empirical evidence that the SRMP
of shrub transplantation, direct seeding and periodic resting have
M. Louhaichi et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 180 (2016) 493e503 501
only limited potential in increasing farm income and, hence, low
potential adoption rates of 10%, 20% and 50%, respectively. How-
ever, accompanying their introduction with incentive payments in
the form of payment for agri-environmental services of US$240/ha
per year can increase the adoption rates of all the new managment
practices to 100%. Though these levels of payments may appear too
high, they can be justied on grounds that they enable to increase
feed and forage supply in the Badia thereby contribute in the
improvement of livelihoods. Moreover, they have very high social
and environmental benets as they increase the sustainability of
the rangeland ecosystems, reduce desertication, enhancement
carbon sequestration and so combat global warming.
Future research should focus on how adoption of SRMPs would
affect the forage calendar in the Badia, and hence, the income of the
Bedouin households with a view to the development of best prac-
tice for the implementation of agri-environmental and/or PES
schemes on dryland rangelands combined with a conict-sensitive
and holistic rangeland governance.
The current non-adoption of SRMPs by the communities signals
that there are economic, social, and cultural barriers at the local
level. Moreover, the lack of technical and institutional capacity
among decision makers and authorities inhibits the implementa-
tion of effective SRMPs. This study demonstrates a link between
rangeland degradation, failed rangeland policies, and poor range-
land governance and so identies an urgent need for governments
in the MENA region to review their barley and/or forage subsidies
and to opt for agricultural-environmental and/or PES schemes
compatible with SRMPs.
This work was supported by the International Center for Agri-
cultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the CGIAR Research
Program on Livestock Agri-Food Systems (CRP Livestock) and the
OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID no. TR279). The
authors thank several anonymous reviewers for their critical
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... Rangelands can be sustainably used if appropriate decisions are drawn subject to sustainable management (Eskandari et al., 2008;Moghadam, 1998;Mousavi, 2001). Sustainable rangeland management practices, next to encouraging pastoralists through measures like cash payments, can prevent rangeland degradation (Louhaichi et al., 2016). This is especially important in Iran's rangelands which are experiencing a heavy level of degradation. ...
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Over-grazing in rangelands leads to a drastic decline in non-forage functions. The rangelands are exploited with no concern for the incurred externality costs. The cost–benefit livestock grazing enterprise and the net profit obtained per animal unit are calculated initially. Following this, the 5 regulation services of rangeland are measured and assessed. The economic analysis of livestock grazing enterprise in rangeland is run for 3 reimbursement conditions for grazing: (1) Concerning the condition of the study area, almost no payment is made for grazing; thus, forage cost is of no concern, (2) the value of grazed forage obtained and added to the forage costs, and (3) the value of regulation services is obtained and considered in the cost–benefit analysis in livestock grazing business. The value of forage and regulation services of 18 vegetation types, separated by the floristic physiognomy method, is obtained. The change in the value of regulation services in the rangelands subject to overstocking and proper stocking conditions is analyzed. The three conditions mentioned above benefit to cost ratios per animal unit are 2.01, 1.2, and 0.46, respectively, indicating that the third case lacks economic justification. Regarding the vegetation types with over-stocking, there are 6.5 units of negative externality effects per animal unit, which will be incurred on the society. The findings indicate the importance of externalities in economic justification of rangeland enterprises, which further could be used to correct the utilization process in the rangelands with poor economic justification.
... However, systematic research on the feasibility and outcomes of such initiatives is lacking almost everywhere, including the MENA region. While such tools may be able to protect farmers from the vagaries of climate effects and may also enhance the adoption of improved agricultural and rangeland management practices (Louhaichi et al. 2016) other related thorny issues such as the rights of landowners, land users and renters have neither been researched nor received any policy attention. The gender implications, effects, and outcomes (especially vis-à-vis community and private property rights regimes, and women's weak access to both) are potentially profound and powerful but remain mostly unknown. ...
Technical Report
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The MENA region is both disproportionately vulnerable to compound climate fragility risks and among the most gender unequal regions in the world. Although we must be wary of over-generalizing about women’s needs and experiences across such a diverse set of geographic, ecological, cultural, socio-economic, political, and institutional contexts, the existing body of research on gender and climate change in MENA does enable us to comment reasonably certainly on what we know and what we do not know about the opportunities and challenges women experience in agriculture, the gendered effects and outcomes of climate change upon agriculture, and the roles women have played and could play in the future in adapting and building resilience to climate effects. Based on this existing scientific literature, we also identify gaps in evidence and knowledge, and make practical recommendations for future research and public policy.
... Along with more sustainable techniques, also Bro et al. [18] propose the implementation of cooperatives to empower farmers, as a solution to various problems present in their reality such as lack of roads or transportation networks [19], price and market information [20], and poor access to raw materials [21]. Cooperatives break down these barriers and gaps by increasing financing that boosts productivity and value of agricultural products [22], increases farmers' bargaining power and reduces transactional cost [23]- [26], help finance technologies for agriculture [27] which increases adoption to technology [28], helping to mitigate impacts due to climate [29]. The effect of the cooperative on producers was studied with the implementation of sustainable practices such as proper pest management, mulching, erosion prevention barriers, water retention techniques, water harvesting, use of soil analysis, green cover application, shade management, pruning, and stumping, where it was observed that cooperative members were more active in adopting these practices. ...
... The establishment of Atriplex nummularia, Rhagodia preissii, and other perennial shrubs can play an important role in managing dryland salinity and counteracting erosion and degradation (Louhaichi et al., 2016). A limited number of forage crops tolerate the combined stress of salinity and arid conditions. ...
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The perennial halophytic shrubs Atriplex nummularia and Rhagodia preissii are native to Australia and can be planted on saline land to produce sheep and cattle feed during the autumn. However, an impediment to the adoption of the species on saline land has been the challenges in achieving successful establishment by direct seeding due to a lack of knowledge of the optimal conditions for germination. Therefore, the optimal germination requirements in relation to temperature, salinity level and seed size was assessed for each species to ascertain the optimal conditions for successful establishment by direct seeding on saline land. Seeds of both species showed optimal germination temperature at 10°C. Atriplex nummularia seeds were more tolerant to temperatures above or below 10°C than R. preissii . The germination percentage of A. nummularia was unchanged at 0–200 mM NaCl 2 . The germination percentage of Rhagodia preissii declined when the NaCl 2 content exceeded 50 mM. There was no correlation between seed size, germination and emergence for any of the species. Based on the study, we suggest that sowing operations are performed during the cold winter months in subtropical areas or autumn and spring in temperate areas, to improve the successful establishment of these shrubs by direct seeding.
... Payments for environmental or ecosystem services are payments to farmers or landowners who have agreed to take certain actions to manage their land or watersheds to provide an ecological service. With clarity on the rights of rangeland users, payment for environmental services can enhance the adoption of improved rangeland management practices (Louhaichi et al. 2016a). ...
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The evidence on conflicts around the world since the turn of the century points to a simple conclusion: conflicts, grievances and insecurities are increasingly being affected by changing climates, environmental degradation, food insecurity, and the struggle to control a finite pool of natural resources. This paper aims to understand the linkages between climate, conflict, agriculture, and migration in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region and offer a road map for the region while emphasizing the role of research and development. We do this by first clarifying what climate security means and how it links to risk and resilience (Introduction). We then present causal impact pathways to describe how climate exacerbates drivers of conflict and insecurity (Section 2). This is followed by an overview of indicators summarizing the state of climate security in MENA and a discussion of the limitations of such indicators (Section 3). We also identify climate security and climate peace hotspots in the region using spatial analysis (Section 4). We then present existing research for development efforts and discuss their potential to contribute to climate security by mitigating its drivers with a specific focus on gender inequality (Section 5). We offer entry points for improving climate security using sustainable finance (Section 6). This is followed by a series of case studies (Section 7 to 11) and finally Section 12 concludes by emphasizing the key findings of the paper.
... According to Louhaichi et al. (2016), there are several references in the literature on reasons influencing the use of new technologies or practices in agriculture. Factors such as farmer and farm characteristics, technology knowledge, access to information, extension services, and credit are essential for such decisions. ...
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This paper aims to assess the sustainability of coffee production in Brazil by a framework at the farm level. The framework developed comprises four dimensions of sustainability structured from the literature review. Primary data were collected from 20 coffee farms selected from the most producing communities in the Planalto de Vitória da Conquista locality, sited in Centro-Sul Baiano middle region at the Bahia state. The main environmental issues identified related to coffee farmers are inadequate management of water consumption, influenced by the lack of knowledge about irrigation techniques in some cases, and the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The economic evaluation of the activity revealed a low index of producers belonging to a class organization. In social aspects the issues are low level of technical/technological instruction for coffee producers, temporary workers are often used, the old age of most producers, the lack of family succession for the activity, low incomes, the high number of temporary workers, and the absence of the worker gains. As for the technical dimension, only half of the farmers invest in innovation, which causes high obsolescence of their equipment and machinery and a low participation rate in training courses. In the environmental dimension, the farmers return the packages of pesticides to the stores where they bought them. In the technical dimension, most farmers perform soil analysis. Besides addressing the identified challenges, the initiatives can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the 9th, 12th, and 13th.
... The toolkit will help communities, policy makers and other development actors define site-specific key SRM practices and illustrate their use through scenarios across different agro-ecological sites. Ideally these SRM practices should be combined with financial incentives to increase their adoption at the community level (Louhaichi et al., 2016). ...
Conference Paper
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Rangelands contribute significantly toward improving livelihoods, offering food security, trade and tourism for pastoral communities. Numerous challenges include poor government policies, loss of indigenous knowledge and top-down approaches toward sustainable rangeland rehabilitation that often fail to consider local development adoption and sustainability. In such situations, effective management is needed for sustainable rangeland ecosystem goods and services in a context characterized by rainfall unreliability, poor soil nutrient status and high uncontrolled grazing. This paper presents a new comprehensive toolkit for identifying and combining suitable and site-specific interventions aimed at reversing the trend of degraded arid rangelands. This toolbox is founded on science-based evidence and experienced practitioners. For severely degraded arid rangelands, the preference of applying an isolated technology may be insufficient to halt degradation. Through targeting a landscape scale that uses an integrated and multidisciplinary approach, this promising tool/approach aims to address the biophysical and socioeconomic linkages and trade-offs existing between the different land uses. The approach highlights the important role of rangeland governance. It also underscores the need to base decision-making on both indigenous knowledge and modern science, in order to empower communities to make good choices based on the best information available.
This empirical study attempts to deal with an exploration gap surrounding Iranian pastoralists' pro‐environmental intention regarding sustainable rangeland management. This study tested a combination of protection motivation and cultural values theories using structural equation modeling. A sample among rangeland's users was selected and the sample size was determined using Cochrane's (1963) formula to be 289. Data for this study were collected using a researcher‐made questionnaire. Data were analyzed using SPSS (version 20) and AMOS (version 20). The results showed that the conceptual model of this study had a good fit with the data. The combination of the two theories showed good potential in predicting the pro‐environmental intention of rangeland users (51%) compared with previous researches. The results revealed that risk perception, maladaptation, and belief in land degradation directly influence rangeland's pro‐environmental intention.
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We empirically study personal norms of sustainability, conceptualized according to the norm-activation theory and operationalized under the notion of strong ecological-economic sustainability. Our case study is commercial cattle farming in semi-arid rangelands of Namibia, a system that is subject to extensive degradation. Using survey data, we characterize farmers’ personal ecosystems and income norms, study their determinants, and analyze their impact on actual management based on the dual-preferences model. We find that ecosystem and income norms are heterogeneous across farmers and independent from each other. Furthermore, farmers with better environmental and financial farm conditions have more demanding norms. We find no evidence for a significant impact of norms on actual management, which provides an explanation for the observed degradation of the system.
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The region considered stretches from the Turkish Anatolian plateau to the Red sea in Southern Jordan over 1,200 km and from the Lebanese costal zone through Syria and Iraq to the Iranian border. This is the cradle of antic civilisations where pastoralism continues to be an essential agricultural activity (30% of agricultural income) supplying the local population with indispensable red meat and milk products. The climate is essentially Mediterranean with cool and cold winters, with monomodal and highly variable rainfall concentrated during December-February. The steppe and desert with dominant chamaephytes and ephemeroids cover large degraded areas of the region. This is due to systematic overgrazing, unrelenting fuel wood collection and hazardous cereal-barley cropping as a consequence of ever increasing human and animal population. These degraded rangelands contribute now only for 20-30% of the small ruminants diet. The RUE (Rain Use Efficiency) varies between 1.4 and 3.9 kg DM/ha/year/mm indicating consistent rangeland degradation. Barley grain, cereal and vegetables crop residues are now essential to the livestock diet, survival and fattening of small ruminants in the whole region as in North Africa. The future of rangeland resources of the Middle East and Middle Asia, essential to local population, remains quite gloomy unless proper conservation measures are implemented by strong and relentless political will and enforced without further delay.
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This paper identifies four critical processes of negative environmental impact of the crisis in Darfur: 1) the collapse of environmental governance; 2) the increased vulnerability to drought; 3) the widespread adoption of “maladaptive” crisis livelihood strategies; and 4) the major transition of the Darfur economy. The paper then focuses on the first of these - the loss of environmental governance – and asks what can be done in order to reverse this process. A dialogue within Darfur is needed in order to support the development of a vision for how environmental governance can be rebuilt and what form it will take. Post conflict governance will need to reflect the huge social and environmental transition Darfur has experienced during the crisis. A central question will be the respective roles of statutory and customary law. Numerous sources are needed to inform this dialogue. These would include consideration of models of environmental governance, both historical and contemporary, and from inside Sudan and elsewhere (particularly elsewhere in the Sahel). The role of customary law has been changing significantly since the early 1970s and so provides a range of models that worked more or less well in any given situation. A local and contemporary contribution to the debate would be a review of the many forms of community management developed for humanitarian programming. Whilst clearly only reflecting part of the scope of governance to be rebuilt, these institutions provide models of collective decision making in which communities have adapted to new situations, constraints and opportunities. They merit exploration and evaluation along-side wider efforts to support Darfur’s search to re-establish sustainable and equitable environmental governance.
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The biophysical benefits of zero tillage (ZT) are well documented in the literature. However, the literature on its economic benefits, especially in the context of small and medium-scale farmers in the temperate developing world is scanty. Using a study of 621 wheat farmers in Syria, we provide empirical evidence on the impacts of adoption of ZT on farm income and wheat consumption. We use propensity score matching (PSM) and endogenous switching regression (ESR) approaches to account for potential selection biases. After controlling for confounding factors, we find that adoption of the ZT technology leads to a US$ 189/ha (33%) increase in net crop income and a 26 kg (34%) gain in per capita wheat consumption per year (adult equivalent) - an indication of meaningful changes in the livelihoods of the farm households. Besides the biophysical and environmental benefits documented elsewhere, our results suggest that adoption of ZT can also be justified on economic and food security grounds. Therefore, ZT can have sizeable impacts in transforming the agricultural sector in the temperate developing world provided that the technology is well promoted and adopted.
Economists investigating consumer demand have accumulated considerable evidence showing that consumers generally have subjective preferences for characteristics of products and that their demand for products is significantly affected by their perceptions of the product's attributes. However, the role of farmers' preferences in adoption decisions have received very limited attention in adoption studies conducted by economists. This paper tests the hypothesis that farmers' perceptions of technology characteristics significantly affect their adoption decisions. The analysis, conducted with Tobit models of modern sorghum and rice varietal technologies in Burkina Faso and Guinea, respectively, strongly supports this hypothesis. Our results provide a strong case for future adoption studies to expand the range of variables used away from the broad socio‐economic, demographic and institutional factors to include farmers' subjective perceptions of the characteristics of new agricultural technologies.
Although it is often simplified as an “ethnic conflict” in popular media, the current crisis in Darfur can only be superficially defined across ethnic lines. Any long-term solution to the conflict must also address the underlying social and environmental influences such as changing resource dynamics, expanding poverty, lack of infrastructure, and political corruption, which have brought the crisis to a head. This project diverges from previous studies by examining how the dynamic interaction between the environment, local governance, and national policy in Sudan has resulted in the Darfur crisis. It demonstrates how ecological degradation and the breakdown of community governance have destabilized the region, and how corruption and incompetence at the national level have culminated in the current crisis. Analyzing the interplay of these factors will yield valuable insights as to how a concerned international community can both end the tragic genocide and address the underlying injustices that engendered it. The analysis presented will be informative and accessible to a wide readership of students, academics, and concerned citizens.