Conference Paper

Knowledge on dynamic ecosystem regimes is vital to achieve land degradation neutrality

Authors:
  • Thünen Institute of Biodiversity; Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
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Abstract

Land Degradation Neutrality is one of the Sustainable Development Goal targets, requiring on-going degradation to be balanced by restoration of land ecosystems. However, land degradation cannot be easily decreased everywhere at acceptable cost requiring decisions on where and when best to invest in restoration. Although Land Degradation Neutrality provides an effective opportunity for research and policy, the close relationships between sustainable land management and key ecosystem dynamics related to thresholds and regime shifts, are currently poorly acknowledged in operationalising Land Degradation Neutrality. We present a decision-support tool based on dynamic ecosystem regimes to guide economically sustainable restoration. It explicitly considers degradation severity, hysteresis thresholds and suitable management timings. Applying this tool to Mediterranean rangelands, we assess investment and maintenance costs as well as benefits (e.g. pasture productivity and cover) dependent on stability domains and windows of opportunities. The chance of success is greater and returns on investment are higher in a bi-stable domain when interventions (e.g. seeding, manuring) coincide with an ecological window of opportunity. This decision-support tool is widely applicable enabling the development of generic restoration principles. It provides a new way of analysing costs and benefits of action and inaction, allowing land managers to focus their restoration and monitoring efforts on situations for which they are likely to have the greatest effect.

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