The Role of Local Settlements in Combating Desertification of Isfahan's Desert Rangelands

Document Type: Research and Full Length Article


1 Ph.D. Rangeland Sciences, Social-Management, Gorgan University of Agricultural sciences & Natural Resources

2 Ph.D. Rangeland Sciences, Ecology, Gorgan University of Agricultural sciences & Natural Resources- Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Management Organization, Isfahan

3 Research Professor - The School of Plant Sciences, Adjunct Faculty, Honors College, Arizona, USA


Undoubtedly, land degradation linked to desertification causes a decrease in qualitative and quantitative features of natural resources. This research aimed to assess land desertification by local residents and their role in controlling desertification in Isfahan province, Iran in 2016. The criteria were soil climate, vegetation, erosion, and demography. The indicators of soil texture, stone fragment, organic matter, soil depth, Electrical Conductivity (EC), soil drainage, soil slope, precipitation, evapotranspiration, aridity index, fire risk, erosion protection, drought resistance, plant cover percent, wind erosion, water erosion, land use, population density, grazing intensity, policy, and management. Some parameters include land use, DEM, NDVI, roads, springs, fire history data, stress intensity, tolerance, mean productivity, AUM index, lithology, morphology and relief, wind speed, soil characteristics, plant cover percent, wind erosion features, soil moisture, type and distribution of sand dunes, and land management. The assessment of desertification has been conducted by the Mediterranean Desertification and Land Use (MEDALUS) method in ArcGIS10 software. This research was based on the importance of socio-economic issues, establishing a realistic framework for qualitative indicators and indices adapted to Iran’s situation. Those are population, poverty and economics, people rights and institutional regulations, and socio-cultural criteria achieved by an interview with local communities and experts. A single desertification status map was generated based on all the quality maps. Finally, the generated map was compared with local settlements density map. Results showed that 91.23% of the rangelands (with area 38203 km2) are classified as severe and moderate with low settlements density and 1.83% of the rangelands (with area 766 km2) are lower in severity with high settlement density. This result illustrated that local settlements and nomadic have a positive role in combating the desertification. They are able to eliminate the desertification to minimum and vice versa. The desertification status and local settlements density maps are essential in management efforts to combat the desertification via local settlement abilities.


Main Subjects

Akhtar-Schuster, M., Amiraslani, F., Diaz Morejon, C.F., Escadafal, R., Fulajtar, E., Grainger, A., Kellner, K., Khan, S.I., PerezPardo, O., Sauchanka, U., Stringer, L.C., Reda, F., Thomas, R.J.,2016. Designing a new science-policy communication mechanism for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Journal of Environmental Science and Policy63: 122-131.

Amiraslani, F., Dragovich, D., 2011. Combating desertification in Iran over the last 50 years: An overview of changing approaches. Journal of Environment Management, 92(1): 1-13.

Amiraslani, F., Dragovich, D., 2010. Cross-sectoral and participatory approaches to combating desertification: The Iranian experience. Journal of Natural Resources Forum, 34: 140–154.

Arnalds, O., 1990. Characterization and erosion of Andisols in Iceland. Ph.D. Dissertation, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, 179p.

Arnalds, O., Archer, S., 1999. Case studies of rangeland desertification. Proceedings of an International Workshop in Iceland, September 1997, RALA Report No. 200. Agricultural Research Institute, Reykjavik, Iceland, 159p.

Arnalds, O., Hallmark, C.T., Wilding, L.P., 1995. Andisols from four different regions in Iceland. Soil Science Society of America Journal,59: 161-169.

Arnalds, O., Thorarinssdttir, E.F., Metusalemsson, S., Jonsson, A., Gretarsson, E., Arnason, A., 2001. Soil erosion in Iceland. The Soil Conservation Service and Agricultural University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland, 121p.

Aslinezhad, N., 2013. Assessment of desertification potential using IMDPA model in Jolgeh Chahhashem of Iranshahr region. Master Science Thesis. University of Zabol Press, 113p. (In Persian).

Azimi, M., Heshmati, Gh.A., Farahpour, M., Faramarzi, M., Abbaspour, K.C., 2013. Modeling the impact of rangeland management on forage production of sagebrush species in arid and semi-arid regions of Iran. Journal of Ecological Modeling, 250: 1-14.

Basso, F., Bove, E., Dumontet, S., Ferrara, A., Pisante, M., Quaranta, G., Taberner, M., 2000. Evaluating environmental sensitivity at the basin scale using geographic information systems and remotely sensed data: An example covering the Agri Basin (southern Italy). Journal of Catena, 40: 19-35.

Becerril-Piña, R., Mastachi-Loza, C.A., González-Sosa, E., Díaz-Delgado, C., Bâ. K.M., 2015. Assessing desertification risk in the semi-arid highlands of central Mexico. Journal of Arid Environments, 120: 4-13.

Doraiswamy, P., Muratova, N., Sinclair, T., Stern, A., Akhmedov, B., 2002. Evaluation of MODIS data for assessment of regional spring wheat yield in Kazakhstan. In: Proceedings of International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, IGARSS. 24e28 June 2002, Toronto, Canada, pp. 487-490.

Dutta, S., Chaudhuri, G., 2015. Evaluating Environmental Sensitivity of Arid and Semiarid Regions in Northeastern Rajasthan, India. Journal of Geographical Review, 105(4): 441–461.

Ekhtesasi, M.R., Ahmadi, H., 1995. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of wind erosion and estimation of sediments. Iranian Journal of Natural Resource, 5(2): 15-28. (In Persian).

Fernandes, G.C.J., 1992. Effective selection criteria for assessing plant stress tolerance. in proceeding of on the symposium. Taiwan, 13–16 Aug. 1992. By: C. G. Kuo. AVRDC.

Fisher, R.A. and Maurer, R., 1978. Drough resistance in spring wheat cultivars. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 29: 897-912.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 2002. Land degradation assessment in drylands. 2 pages. Available at ag/agl/agll/lada/.

Forghani, F., 2008. Iran deserts. 5 pages. #chapter-2.

FRWO, 1994. Desert and desertification in Iran. Bureau of sand fixation and combating desertification, Forest Range and Watershed Management Organization Press, 12p. (In Persian).

Ghilishli, F., Mirdeilami, S.Z., Moradi, E., Pessarakli, M., 2016. Effects of fertilizers on plant diversity, density, and uniformity in Golestan rangelands. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 39(10): 1441-1448.

Glantz, M.H., Orlovsky, N.S., 1983. Desertification: A review of the concept. Desertification Control Bulletin, 9: 15-22.

Glenn, E., Stafford, S.M., Squires, V., 1998. On our failure to control desertification: implications for global change issues, and a research agenda for the future. Environmental Science and Policy,1: 71-78.

Harasheh, H., Tateishi, R., 2000. Desertification mapping of west ASIA-AGIS and remote sensing application. 7 pages.

Heshmati, G.A., 2007. Vegetation characteristics of four ecological zones of Iran. International Journal of Plant Production, 1(2): 215-224.

Heshmati, G.A., Squires, V.R., 2013. Combating desertification in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Springer Netherlands, 476p.

Holechek, L., Pieper, R.D., Herbel, C.H., 1989. Range Management: Principles and Practices. Prentice Hall, Endlewood Cliffs, New Jersey,456p.

Khosroshahi, M., Abbasi, H., khashki, M.T., Abtahi, M., Seyedakhlaghi, S.J., 2013. Determination of Iran desert lands based on soil attributes. Journal of Desert Management, 1: 35-44.

Kosmas, C., Ferrara, A., Briasouli, H., Imeson, A., 1999. Methodology for mapping environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) to desertification. Mediterranean desertification and land use (MEDALUS). Journal of the European Union, 18882: 31-47.

Ladisa, G., Todorovic, M., Trisorio-liuzzi, G., 2002. Characterization of area sensitive to desertification in southern Italy. Proceeding of the 2nd International Conference on New Trend in Water and Environmental Engineering for Safety and Life: Eco-Environmental, Capri, Italy, 23p.

Magnusson, S.H. 1994. Plant colonization of eroded areas in Iceland. Ph.D. Thesis. Lund University, Sweden, 145p.

Mashayekhan, A., Honardoust, F., 2011. Multi-criteria evaluation model for desertification hazard zonation mapping using GIS (Study area: Trouti watershed, Golestan, Iran). Journal of Rangeland Science, 1(4): 331-339.

Mehrabi, A.A., Zehtabian, G.H., Rostami, N., Malekian, A.,2008. Investigation of the socio-economic criteria, indicator and indices in desertification. Journal of Desert, 13: 67-74.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Desertification Synthesis. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). World Resources Institute, Washington, DC. Press, 2, 39p.

Mojiri, A., Jalalian, A., 2011. Relationship between growth of Nitraria schoberi and some soil properties. Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences, 21(2): 246-250. 

Myers, B., Allan, G., Bradstock, R., Dias, L., Duff, G., Jacklyn, P., Landsberg, J., Morrison, J., Russell-Smith, J., & Williams, R. 2004, Fire Management in the Rangelands, Tropical Savannas CRC, Darwin.

National Action Program (NAP). 2004a. National action program for combating desertification and mitigation of impacts. Iran, Tehran, 125p. (In Persian).

National Action Program (NAP). 2004b. The National action program to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought of Islamic Republic of Iran. Forest, Range and Watershed Management Organization. Pooneh press, Tehran, Iran, 48p. (In Persian).

Rosielle, A.T. and Hambelen. J., 1981. Theoretical aspect of selection yield in stress and non-stress environment. Journal of Crop Science, 21: 943–946.

Sadeghi Ravesh, M.H., Ahmadi, H., Zehtabian, G.R., Tahmores, M., 2010. Application of analytical hierarchy process (AHP) in assessment of de-desertification alternatives, case study: Khezrabad region, Yazd province. Iranian Journal of Rang and Desert, 17(1): 35-50. (In Persian).

Saidi, S. and Gintzburger, G.A., 2013. Spatial desertification indicator for Mediterranean arid rangelands: A case study in Algeria. The Rangeland Journal, 35(1): 47-62.

Santini, M., Caccamo, G., Laurenti, A., Noce, S., Valentini, R., 2010. A muli-component GIS framework for desertification risk assessment by an integrated index. Journal of Applied Geography,30: 394-415.

Sepehr, A., Hassanli, A.M., 2005. Holding back the tide with the desert encroaching on productive land at alarming rate, the need for information to underpin effective countermeasures is a top priority. GEO connexion. International Magazine, 6: 26-28.

Sepehr, A., Hassanli, A.M., Ekhtesasi, M.R., 2007. Quantitative assessment of desertification in south of Iran using MEDALUS method. Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 134: 243–254.

Squires, V.R., 2010. Desert transformation or desertification control? Journal of Rangeland Science, 1(1): 17-21.

Stoddardt, L.A., Box, T.W., Smith, A.D., 1975. Range Management. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 433p.

Tavares, J.D.P., Baptista, I., Ferreira, A.J.D., Tavares, J.D.P., Baptista, I., Ferreira, A.J.D., Amiotte-Suchet, P., Coelho, C., Gomes, S., Amoros, R., Reis, E.A.D., Mendes, A.F., Costa, L., Bentub, J., Varela, L.,2015. Assessment and mapping the sensitive areas to desertification in an insular Sahelian mountain region (Case study of the Ribeira Seca watershed, Santiago Island, Cabo Verde). Journal of Catena,128: 214-223.

Thomas, D.S.G., 1997. Science and the desertification debate. Journal of Arid Environments, 37: 599-608.

Thorarinsson, S., 1981. The application of tephrochronology in Iceland. Tephra Studies, In: Self, S. and Sparks, R.S.J. (Eds.), D. Reidel, London, pp. 109-134.

Tongway, D., Hindley, N., 2000. Assessing and monitoring desertification with soil indicators. pp. 89-98, In: Arnalds, O. and Archer, S. (Eds.), Rangeland desertification. Originally published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 211p.

Toranjzar, T., Poormoridi, M., 2013. Desertification Evaluation Using IMDPA Model (Case Study: Taraz Nahid, Saveh, Iran). Journal of Rangeland Science, 3(1): 83-94.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). 1994. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification particularly in Africa. Final Text, United Nations, 15p.

Verstraete, M.M., 1986. Defining desertification: A review. Journal of Climatic Change, 9(1): 5-18.

Whyte, A., 1977. Water control and desertification, the resettled nomads of DehLuran, Iran. Journal of Economic Geography, 53(4): 372-375.

Yang, X., Zhang, K., Jia, B., Ci, L.,2005. Desertification assessment in China: An overview. Journal of Arid Environments,63: 517-531.

Zakeri, H.F., Khalil, R., ShafaiBajestan, M., 2015. Soil erosion and sediment yield risk assessment using an empirical model of MPSIAC for upstream watershed of Abbaspour and masjed-soleiman dams, SW-Iran. Journal of Bullen of Environment Pharmacology Life Science, 5: 73-82.