LEDDRA overview

Author: Eleni Briassoulis

» Focus and main tenets of LEDDRA

» Aim and objectives of LEDDRA

» Basic approach

» LEDDRA study sites

» Dissemination

» Policy and other impacts

Focus and main tenets of LEDDRA

Land and ecosystem degradation and desertification causes unwanted environmental and social welfare impacts that:
(a) hamper the achievement of sustainable development and
(b) increase the vulnerability of affected regions.  

Human responses to land and ecosystem degradation and desertification (LEDD) in socio-ecological systems are any type of formal or informal action in LEDD-affected regions that purports to:
(a) directly and explicitly tackle a LEDD problem or
(b) address other socio-economic problems as well as individual and collective goals.

Formal responses are those that are planned and institutionalized.

Informal responses are those that are spontaneous, not planned and not instutitionalized.

Human responses to LEDD can br grouped into:

  • no action (‘business-as-usual’)
  • negative
  • positive.

Positive responses to LEDD aim to:

  • prevent the deterioration of land resources
  • restore the vitality of ecosystems
  • enhance the services they provide and, eventually
  • promote human and environmental welfare in affected regions.

(a) Rarely a single type of response proves effective if it is not:

  • socially accepted
  • supported by a well functioning economy
  • framed by an enabling institutional environment
  • coordinated with and complemented by other types of responses (serving the same or other purposes)
  • properly implemented.

(b) Similar types of responses do not prove successful in all contexts.

(c) The success of human responses in meeting environmental and social goals depends on how they fit and how they are well adapted to the biophysical and societal conditions prevailing in a region.

Responses to LEDD depend critically on WHO does WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY

LEDDRA posits that there is a dynamic two-way relationship between
(a) LEDD problems and their geographic, socio-environmental and institutional context, and
(b) responses to LEDD problems and their context.

LEDDRA introduces the concept of Response Assemblages: the actual combinations of response types and measures employed under the prevailing environmental, socio-economic and institutional conditions in a region. An RA may contribute to or detract from sustainable land management and societal welfare.

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Aims and objectives of LEDDRA 

The overarching goal of LEDDRA is to advance the holistic study and assessment of the socio-environmental fit of responses to LEDD.

This is a fundamental requirement for rational, responsive and effective land management, planning and policy making for sustainable development in affected areas.

The specific objective sof LEDDRA are: 

A. To develop the theory of responses to LEDD

  • in general
  • in cropland, grazing land and forest/shrubland regions, and
  • in selected study sites in European and ICPC countries

B. To compile, improve and enrich existing and develop new integrated assessment methodologies to

(a) assess the socio-ecological fit of various types of existing or proposed responses to LEDD and

(b) identify optimal response assemblages

  • in general,
  • in cropland, grazing land and forest/shrubland regions and
  • in selected cases in European and ICPC countries

C. To provide applications in selected EU and ICPC study sites.

D. To introduce the policy context & provide land management and policy recommendations for diverse existing or proposed responses to LEDD and response assemblages at the international, EU and national levels , dawing on the theoretical and applied research results.

  • in general,
  • in cropland, grazing land and forest/shrubland regions and
  • in selected cases in European and ICPC countries

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Basic approach

  • LEDDRA adopts the ecosystem approach and the Complex Adaptive System paradigm to study the socio-ecological fit of human responses to LEDD.
  • The overarching criterion of fit is the preservation of socio-ecological resilience of a socio-ecological system; in other words, the capacity of a system to respond to disturbances and reorganize, while undergoing change, so as to preserve its critical functions, structure and feedbacks that do not foreclose future development options; or, else, to safeguard the adaptive capacity of the system.
  • Positive responses to LEDD, planned and unplanned, enhance the socio-ecological resilience of an affected region.
  • Optimal response assemblages comprise carefully synthesized, mutually supportive, complementary and coordinated response measures that are fit to the environmental, socio-economic and cultural conditions of affected regions; thus, they contribute to sustainable land management and societal welfare.
  • Three land themes are distinguished according to three main land use/land cover (LU/LC) types: cropland, grazing land and forests/shrubland.
  • Study sites, representative of the land themes, are chosen from EU and non-EU (ICPC) geographical contexts

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LEDDRA study sites

Cropland Grazing land Forests & shrubland

Irrigated (annual & perennial crops); non-irrigated (rainfed), terraced, mixed (cropland-forests, cropland-grazing)

Subalpine grasslands, steppes, mixed (grazing-forests, grazing-cropland), agandoned grazing

Natural and cultivated forests (coppices, high stands, afforestation), shrubland (Mediterranean macchia, degraded abandoned areas), mixed (forest-grazing land)

  • Messara Valley, Crete (Greece)
  • Alento river basin, National Park of Cilento & Vallo di Diano (Italy)
  • Zhang Jiachong area -Zi Gui county, Yangtze River Basins (China)
  • Jucar River watershed (Spain)
  • Huelva Baixo Guadiana (Spain and Mertola, Alentejo (Portugal)
  • Sobrabe area, Huesca Province, Aragon, Central Pyrenees (Spain)
  • Timhdit area, land of the Ait Beni Yakoub tribe, Middle Atlas (Morocco)
  • Asteroussia Mountains, Crete (Greece)
  • Matera prefecture, Basilicata region (Italy)
  • Western Andevalo, Sanlucar de Guadiana area (Spain)

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To ensure efficient and effective dissemination, use & exploitation of knowledge generated to as many user groups & various spatial levels as possible, a web-based information system, LEDDRIS, will be developed.

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Policy and other impacts

Strategic impact
LEDDRA is expected to enrich the understanding of responses to LEDD in a cross-national context and to provide valuable knowledge for policy makers at all levels and for local stakeholders.

In particular, LEDDRA will explore how well the fine balance between land and ecosystem integrity (preservation of ecosystem services) on the one hand, and socio-economic welfare, on the other, is managed under particular biophysical, socio-economic, political and cultural conditions and


At the international level

  • support the “Science Programme” of the CST
  • address the UNCCD implementation-related concernsas they have been expressed in the 10-year Strategy (COP8) (strategic and operational objectives)
  • assist in linking and achieving synergies among the UNCCD and its Sister Convention, the UNCBD

At the EU level, offer essential knowledge and support to competent organizations to:

  • formulate strategies and plans
  • take action to address the eight main soil threats (EU Soil Thematic Strategy)
  • formulate an EU Soil Framework Directive (draft Directive COM(2006) 232)
  • inform related policy initiatives (e.g. disaster preparedness)

At the national level, offer essential integrated knowledge to:

  • update and improve existing or to formulate new NAPs in affected regions
  • assist stakeholders in making informed land management decisions

Also, LEDDRA will support the implementation of the Environmental Policy Integration (EPI) principle of the EU Treaty. The integrated approach of LEDDRA will offer significant directions for improving policy coordination to achieve multiple environmental and societal welfare benefits. 

Welfare impacts, to elucidate the factors that influence the achievement of socio-environmental welfare and propose steps to achieve it including:

  • sustainable management of land resources & protection of ecosystem services
  • biodiversity conservation, as linked to sustainable land use
  • global food issues (food security)
  • tradeoff questions; e.g. biofuel production vs. food production
  • combating poverty (complex relationship between poverty & LEDD)
  • diversification and enhancement of livelihood opportunities
  • protection and planning against environmental hazard.

Scientific impacts, to address scientific questions with significant practical value, such as:

  • links between biophysical and human determinants of LEDD and of responses to LEDD as well as their impacts on human welfare
  • the role of social capital and community resilience in LEDD and in responses to LEDD
  • links between LEDD and biodiversity change
  • links between LEDD and change in ecosystem services
  • the role of institutions in LEDD and in responses to LEDD
  • cross-scale relationships among responses to LED.

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2014-11-28 10:48:43