Achieving sustainability by introducing alternative livelihoods

Zafar Adeel, Uriel Safriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The millennium ecosystem assessment report on global assessment of desertification has highlighted its worldwide impacts on the environment - increasing dust storms, floods and global warming - as well as on societies and economies. It links sustainable management of resources, and inter alia well-being of dryland populations, to reducing societal pressures on dryland ecosystems through adoption of alternative livelihoods. This paper, in combination with a companion paper by Safriel and Adeel, presents the conceptual underpinnings of this approach as well as examples of how innovative approaches for creating livelihoods can help reduce the pressure on marginal drylands. Three case studies presented are based on activities undertaken within a joint international project called sustainable management of marginal drylands. First, introduction of chicken farming to farmers in Hunshundake Sandland in northern China has reduced the pressure on grasslands and led to a major recovery of these ecosystems. Second, development of desert-based aquaculture, with accompanied longer-term storage of water, on the margins of the Cholistan desert in Pakistan has provided a new source of income for the villagers. Third, development of a new income-generating activity based on soap production from olive oil in Dana Biosphere Reserve in Jordan has demonstrated that traditional olive farming can be linked to community-based innovation to create a new, high-demand market for goods. Working with communities to develop new, sustainable livelihoods that reduce pressure on marginal drylands can thus be used as powerful tool for overcoming and reversing desertification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-133
Number of pages9
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative livelihoods
  • Desertification
  • Developing countries
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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