Assisted Natural Regeneration for Semi-arid and Arid Lands

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David A. Bainbridge

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Resources for restoration of ASAL lands are limited and restoration planning must be based on low cost intervention. Traditionally planning has focused on structure, How many kg of seeds or plants of which species should be applied per hectare? but repairing function, How does water flow through the site?, is often more important. Restoring function can speed natural regeneration. It is also important to determine what economic or cultural drivers led to mismanagement? How can economic incentives be used to sustain local community participation? Payment for ecosystem services may be an option. Carbon sequestration may also provide funding for restoration work. Low cost strategies include modified grazing or farming practices, fencing (even just small exclosures), and roughening the soil surface to retain rainwater with pitting, swales, rock lines, or microcatchments, and protecting natural seedlings. These can make a big difference. If more funding is available resource islands may be created using locally collected seeds and perhaps a few nursery grown seedlings, in small fenced plots with rainwater catchments and super-efficient irrigation to support seedlings. Assisted regeneration of ASAL can aid ecosystem recovery, even when it may seem hopeless, and should be adopted and used more widely.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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