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Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands. " S U M A M A D"
Site Assessment Methodology for "Omayed Biosphere Reserve"
National UNESCO Commission publication
Tuesday 20 July 2004, by Web Team

In the light of the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), the project aims at enhancing the sustainable management and conservation of marginal drylands in Northern Africa and Asia. Drylands are particularly vulnerable due to climatic and human pressures, yet they constitute some of the world’s largest land reserves in terms of space and natural resources. Their increased productivity, which becomes a necessity in times of exponential population growth, needs however to be embedded in wise practices that both respect the conservation of the environment, and provide improved and alternative livelihoods for dryland populations. The project will use a harmonized methodological approach for selected study sites in the countries involved to compare results and share knowledge. Socio-economic surveys will identify people’s adaptation and traditional knowledge in coping with adverse dryland conditions. It will identify management approaches that promote economic sustainability and resource conservation, in particular of soils and water, and it will foster the rehabilitation of degraded drylands using community-based approaches. Training, capacity building and interaction with landowners and farmers, with a focus on sustainable and indigenous dryland management practices, will be a key element of the project. With the view that this project is focusing on developing countries in dry areas - particularly the region comprising Northern Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and China - the following objectives have been identified: · Improved and alternative livelihoods of dryland dwellers. · Reduced vulnerability to land degradation in marginal lands through rehabilitation efforts of degraded lands; · Improved productivity through identification of wise practices using both traditional knowledge and scientific expertise This project will adopt a systematic approach for the long-term in situ conservation of natural resources by involving and supporting local populations in their efforts to use their natural resources in a sustainable manner, and through the application of scientific methods for improved management of marginal drylands. To evaluate the effectiveness of existing practices, A key contribution will be development of an assessment methodology that can be applied to all the project study sites with a degree of uniformity. This will be fully developed jointly by the collaborating agencies and the partner institutions as a primary task of the project. An outline of the assessment methodology is provided here and it comprises information gathering and evaluation for the following three elements: a. state of existing natural resources; b. characterization of stresses; and c. description of indigenous, adaptive and innovative approaches The present report addresses a case for research aimed at developing management strategies of marginal drylands that support the resilience of ecosystems, which are vital for the social systems through their production of goods and services in the western coastal desert of Egypt. Egypt’s dryland in particular have two features relevant to the issues of biological diversity; it has been inhabited by active human assemblages since millennia, and it is the home habitat of plant species that are parents and relatives of several foods and feed crop plants and of hundreds of species that are traditional drug plants. In addition, indigenous animal species bear valuable genetic materials. The region is also the geographic transit between the warm tropics in the south and the temperate north, not only for migratory birds but also for all aspects of biogeography. Indigenous species are known for their resistance to disease and drought and their wide range of morphological, physical and chemical adaptation. They are characterized by notable between - and within - species genetic diversity as well as endemics. The western coastal desert of Egypt and its hinterland is renowned by its wealth of natural resources .This region has been a point of attraction for development projects due to this richness in natural resources, fine location ,good weather ,and pleasant conditions. Most of the north western desert falls in the arid region except for the coastal strip. Water resources are scarce and variable. As a result the local community has developed a wide range of strategies for managing water resources in this region. Traditionally, they move around for water, pasture and croplands, based on the rainfall pattern. But recently and after being sedentary, together with population growth, overuse of water resources, over grazing and uprooting of indigenous vegetation, , climate change, and other political and social forces, there has been an increased pressure on land resources that affected its performance and provision of goods and services. This assessment methodology report was carried out by a group of Egyptian researchers, who involved the local inhabitants, for the identification, evaluation and promotion of the local community resource management system that conserve ecological processes and embrace biodiversity for generating income and coping with changes in social and natural conditions. The outline of the assessment methodology, as indicated in the project document comprises information gathering and evaluation for the following three elements: 1. State of existing natural resources; A detailed description of the current state of existing ecosystem services in terms of its natural resources; water, soil, biodiversity, at the local level and their relationships at spatial and temporal scales. A certain level of integration is attained between the conservation of natural resources, community development and scientific research. The following chapter of this report includes the information pertaining to the state of existing natural resources in the first section of each of the chapters’ parts. 2. Characterization of stresses; An overall characterization of the typical environmental stresses including scarcity of water, land degradation, overgrazing, irrational cultivation and reliance on agriculture, social stresses and social services deficiency, and urbanization dynamics and its effect on local inhabitant’s traditions and culture. A number of socio-economic factors like poverty levels, per capita income, access to public health and education facilities, and existing livelihood options were also assessed in OBR and its hinterland. Characterization of the consumption patterns among the local communities and interdependence of livelihood generating activities were also assessed, and various stakeholders that are competing for access to resources were identified and interviewed. The following chapter of this report includes the information pertaining to the characterization of stresses on each of the resources mentioned above in the second section of each of the chapters’ parts. 3. Description of indigenous, adaptive and innovative approaches; The adaptation of the local communities to the conditions in OBR and its hinterland and whether such adaptations are sustainable in the long-term was assessed in the field via interviews and observation. Various management approaches and technologies - indigenous, adaptive and innovative was considered, including water resource management practices, management of rangelands and grazing patterns, soil degradation identification, land suitable for agriculture,..etc. The availability of and the capacity to adopt alternative livelihoods was discussed with the local community and several scenarios were raised that have a good potential feasibility. The following chapter of this report includes the information pertaining to the description of indigenous, adaptive and innovative approaches in the third section of each of the chapters’ parts An Environmental Information System (EIS) based on participatory GIS (PGIS) is suggested for implementation to represent the required master database of the project. It is structured to manage all forms of information, spatial (base maps, satellite imagery and the like), and aspatial (texts, tables, graphs, statistics and the like) from existing literature, previous projects, field observation and data analysis and its interpretation. This will facilitate the data archiving, analysis and query as well as combination of the scientific, administrative and social data obtained for the local inhabitants in one common repository. Implementing this geodatabase will enable comparative evaluation of study sites and dissemination of information amongst the partner institutions. In order to reach a combined approach for the sustainable management of drylands, with contribution from both the scientific community and local community, and a common consensus that this approach or methodology is meeting the needs yet achieving sustainability use of resources, the following are the activities carried out to initiate the work in (SUMMAMAD) project -Egypt...

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Source : The International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)

-  The International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is a member of the U.N. University family of organisations. It was created by the UNU Governing Council in 1996 to strengthen water management capacity, particularly of developing countries, and to provide on-the-ground project support; with its core funding provided by the Government of Canada. It is headquartered at McMaster University, Canada.







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