Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Practices in Drylands: How Do They Address Desertification Threats?

Schwilch, Gudrun; Liniger, Hanspeter; Hurni, Hans (2014). Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Practices in Drylands: How Do They Address Desertification Threats? Environmental management, 54(5), pp. 983-1004. Springer 10.1007/s00267-013-0071-3

__ubnetapp02_user$_brinksma_Downloads_sustainabble SLM.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (2MB) | Preview

Managing land sustainably is a huge challenge, especially under harsh climatic conditions such as those found in drylands. The socio-economic situation can also pose challenges, as dryland regions are often characterized by remoteness, marginality, low-productive farming, weak institutions, and even conflict. With threats from climate change, disputes over water, competing claims on land, and migration increasing worldwide, the demands for sustainable land management (SLM) measures will only increase in the future. Within the EU-funded DESIRE project, researchers and stakeholders jointly identified existing SLM technologies and approaches in 17 dryland study sites located in the Mediterranean and around the world. In order to evaluate and share this valuable SLM experience, local researchers documented the SLM technologies and approaches in collaboration with land users, utilizing the internationally recognized WOCAT questionnaires. This article provides an analysis of 30 technologies and 8 approaches, enabling an initial evaluation of how SLM addresses prevalent dryland threats, such as water scarcity, soil degradation, vegetation degradation and low production, climate change, resource use conflicts, and migration. Among the impacts attributed to the documented technologies, those mentioned most were diversified and enhanced production and better management of water and soil degradation, whether through water harvesting, improving soil moisture, or reducing runoff. Favorable local-scale cost–benefit relationships were mainly found when considered over the long term. Nevertheless, SLM was found to improve people’s livelihoods and prevent further outmigration. More field research is needed to reinforce expert assessments of SLM impacts and provide the necessary evidence-based rationale for investing in SLM.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability > Unit Land Systems and Sustainable Land Management (LS-SLM)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre [discontinued]
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Schwilch, Gudrun, Liniger, Hans Peter, Hurni, Hans


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics






[427] World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies Official URL




Users 124 not found.

Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2014 15:03

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:24

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Sustainable land management, Desertification, Impact assessment, Cost–benefit




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback