Preprint Article Version 2 This version is not peer-reviewed

Beyond Bioproductivity: Engaging Local Perspectives in Land Degradation Monitoring and Assessment

Version 1 : Received: 25 May 2018 / Approved: 28 May 2018 / Online: 28 May 2018 (10:40:11 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 13 April 2019 / Approved: 15 April 2019 / Online: 15 April 2019 (12:45:49 CEST)

How to cite: Herrmann, S.; Diouf, A.A.; Sall, I.. Beyond Bioproductivity: Engaging Local Perspectives in Land Degradation Monitoring and Assessment . Preprints 2018, 2018050399 Herrmann, S.; Diouf, A.A.; Sall, I.. Beyond Bioproductivity: Engaging Local Perspectives in Land Degradation Monitoring and Assessment . Preprints 2018, 2018050399

Abstract

Land degradation monitoring and assessment in the Sahel zone has relied substantially on temporal trends of remote sensing-based vegetation indices, which are proxies for the bioproductivity of the land. However, prior studies have shown that negative or positive trends in bioproductivity are not necessarily associated with degradation or improvement of land condition. In this short communication, while acknowledging the contributions of remote sensing-based indices and global-scale datasets to dismantling an outdated desertification narrative, we argue that local land users have much to contribute to our understanding of land degradation, and particularly to ensuring that scientific assessments of degradation capture variables relevant to them. We used the participatory photo elicitation method in three sites in the Senegalese Ferlo in order to elicit local pastoralists’ perspectives on land degradation and identify the indicators that they use to characterize pasture quality, while empowering them to lead the discussion. The discussion revealed indicators far beyond bioproductivity, including livestock performance as well as composition and quality of the herbaceous and woody vegetative cover, invasive species, soil quality and water availability. We found that the pastoralists’ knowledge and interest in the issue could potentially be harnessed more systematically, and at larger scales, in order to build a spatially explicit field-based knowledge base of land degradation complementary to remote sensing-based maps of trends in bioproductivity. Such a dataset could serve as a standalone product or as a reference dataset for development and validation of remote sensing-based indicators.

Subject Areas

land degradation; participatory methods; photo elicitation; Sahel; local knowledge; remote sensing

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