Degradation in a range of land uses was examined across the transition from the arid to the semi-arid zone in the northern Negev desert, representative of developments in land use taking place throughout the West Asia and North Africa region. Primary production was used as an index of an important aspect of dryland degradation. It was derived from data provided by Landsat measurements at 0.1 ha resolution over a 2500 km2 study region—the first assessment of the degradation of a large area of a desert margin at a resolution suitable for interpretation in terms of human activities. The Local NPP Scaling (LNS) method enabled comparisons between the observed NPP and the potential, nondegraded, reference NPP. The potential was calculated by normalizing the actual NPP to remove the effects of environmental conditions that are not related to anthropogenic degradation. Of the entire study area, about 50% was found to have a significantly lower production than its potential. The degree of degradation ranged from small in pasture, around informal settlements, minimally managed dryland cropping, and a pine plantation, to high in commercial cropping and extreme in low-density afforestation. This result was unexpected as degradation in drylands is often attributed to pastoralism, and afforestation is said to offer remediation and prevention of further damage.
- Land degradation
- Local NPP Scaling
- Primary production
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)