Many environments are susceptible to land degradation and desertification (a form of land degradation that occurs in drylands). The patterns and processes that trigger and sustain land degradation emerge from both local biophysical vulnerabilities and land use decisions. These local patterns and processes vary across landscapes and regions in response to differences in climate, soils, geomorphology, vegetation, history of disturbance, and human actions. Thus, land degradation emerges from the nexus of biophysical and socioeconomic systems.
There is an urgent need to gain better practical and theoretical understanding of land degradation processes and the feedbacks within and between the biophysical and socioeconomic systems that sustain negative impact on both humans and the environment.
In order to achieve these objectives, the working plan of the Commission is:
- to promote and coordinate interdisciplinary research on land degradation and desertification in our changing global environment;
- to study the effects of environmental and social change arising from natural and human processes and their implications for land degradation and desertification;
- to conduct regional case studies under different climatic regimes and environmental risks (forest fires, floods, river channel changes, soil-erosion, water depletion, water quality);
- to study the planning, design, and outcome of conservation measures to better understand interactions between humans and their environment;
- to alert authorities as to the importance of adequate surveillance of land degradation processes;
- to develop and communicate the best techniques for monitoring changes and collecting, analyzing, and archiving data;
- to sponsor and support activities leading to exchange of information regarding land degradation and desertification, and
- to train the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists to address practical and theoretical causes and consequences of land degradation and desertification.