Strategic Cooperation

NEW Global research initiative to fight land degradation in new EU-funded project: DESIRE submitted 070614 (sustainable landuse)

A new 9 million EU-funded research project has started, helping farmers and other local land users to find innovative solutions that can protect and rehabilitate degraded land areas. With 28 partner institutions from every continent, including universities, research institutes and NGOs, it is one of the largest so-called desertification projects ever funded by the EU. Both ENDS is one of the partners involved.

Dryland degradation has been described as the world's most pressing environmental problem, second only to climate change. It currently threatens the livelihoods of over 2 billion people, particularly in the world's driest and poorest nations. The new project, titled "DESIRE: a global initiative to combat desertification," has identified 18 degradation and desertification hotspots around the world. The DESIRE project aims to establish promising alternative land use and management conservation strategies in these eighteen hotspots, based on a close collaboration of scientists with local stakeholder groups.

The project plans to work closely with policy-makers in each country and with the people who live and work in the affected areas. This integrative participatory approach ensures the acceptability and feasibility of conservation techniques, as well as a sound scientific basis for the effectiveness at various scales.

Project Co-ordinator Prof Coen Ritsema, from Alterra in the Netherlands, explained how the project aims to achieve this ambitious goal:
"At the heart of this project, we are combining cutting edge science with the knowledge and experience of the people who are grappling with desertification on the ground. By pooling our knowledge, we can come up with solutions that are both innovative and practical. We want to empower people to both recognise and respond to desertification, to protect their livelihoods and the environment they depend upon."

The project will run for five years. Both ENDS will have a specific role in coupling the needs and knowledge of local land users with those of the projects' research teams, together with a French partner-NGO, CARI. Based on the experience of Both ENDS in working with dryland organisations in the past years, Both ENDS intends to ensure that the research results are translated into practically applicable outcomes for different stakeholder groups. The results will be communicated to practitioners, agricultural extensionists, governmental authorities, policy makers, NGOs, land users, land owners, and local communities.

For more information about this project, visit:

Downloads: DESIRE brochure, article in the Wageningen Update: A Desire for Sustainable Land Use.