You are here

Drylands, People, and Ecosystem Goods and Services

A Web-Based Geospatial Analysis

A web-based analysis taking advantage of the power of geospatial technologies to examine the world’s drylands from the perspective of human livelihoods and how these livelihoods are integrated with dryland ecosystem goods and services.

Executive Summary

A critical step in improving the way we manage the earth’s ecosystems is to take stock of their extent, their condition, and their capacity to provide the goods and services we will need in years to come. In 2000, the World Resources Institute published a series of reports called the Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems (PAGE). These reports examine five ecosystems—forests, agroecosystems, freshwater systems, coastal ecosystems, and grasslands—and the information available on a global scale about the goods and services provided by these ecosystems.

The following report has been prepared to expand the ecosystems addressed in PAGE by presenting information on a global scale about the goods and services provided by drylands. In addition, this report provides baseline information for ongoing and future assessments of drylands, including the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) (www.millenniumassessment.org) and the Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands (LADA) (www.fao.org/ag/agl/agll/lada/). Further, this report can provide baseline information and ideas for developing dryland indicators for the United Nation’s Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) through the Committee on Science and Technology and potential requests to parties for the adoption of an ecosystem approach in their national action planning process.

This report was partially funded by the International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) (www.ialcworld.org), an independent, non-profit organization involving land-grant universities with partner institutions in the Middle East, and dedicated to exploring the problems and solutions unique to arid regions. The results of the report were presented by Dan Tunstall, Information Program Director from WRI, at the October 2002 IALC conference and workshop: Assessing Capabilities of Soil and Water Resources in Drylands: The Role of Information Retrieval and Dissemination Technologies. The report was converted to web format by Michael Haseltine at the University of Arizona's Arid Lands Information Center in cooperation with Laura Lee Dooley at WRI.

This web-based analysis takes advantage of the power of geospatial technologies to examine the world’s drylands. We consider drylands from the perspective of human livelihoods, examining how these livelihoods are integrated with dryland ecosystem goods and services.

Our presentation is map-rich using combinations of remotely-sensed data and computer-based data management systems (GIS). Where global data are not available, we use regional and national studies. We focus on a selected set of dryland goods and services: forage and livestock; food production; biodiversity conservation; freshwater; carbon storage; energy production; and tourism and recreation. The final two sections examine drylands and trade and drylands and the impacts of human activities. Each subject area is generally presented with a brief overview, map, map description, and list of sources. Links are provided to associated data tables and text boxes. All maps are shown in Geographic projection.

Stay Connected