Exploring Integrated Assessment Approaches
Edited by Desmond McNeill, Ingrid Nesheim and Floor Brouwer
Chapter 6: Land Degradation in the Arid Jeffara Region, Tunisia
Mongi Sghaier, Abdeladhim Mohamed Arbi, Jean-Philippe Tonneau, Nadia Ounalli, Houcine Jeder and Muriel Bonin PROBLEM DESCRIPTION Environmental threats and the progressive degradation of natural resources are considered critical for the sustainable development of Tunisia. The World Bank (Sarraf et al., 2004) estimated the annual costs of natural resources degradation at 2.7 per cent of GDP. Natural resource degradation results in a decrease in the land productivity that affects the socio-economic situation of the population. In fact, land degradation causes a failure of the balance of demand and supply of ecosystem services in dry land, and longterm land degradation processes lead to desertification. Desertification is defined by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification as ‘land degradation in arid, semiarid and dry subhumid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities’. Desertification-related processes such as reduction of vegetation cover increase the formation of sand dunes. These, in turn, affect cloud formation and rainfall patterns, the global carbon cycle, and plant and animal biodiversity. Droughts and loss of land productivity are predominant factors inducing the movement of people from drylands to other areas (MEDD, 2006a). As mentioned by the National Action Plan (NAP) for combating desertification of Tunisia, land vulnerable to desertification is estimated at 83 per cent of the whole country. In the southern region of Tunisia this ratio reaches 85 per cent (MEAT, 1998). The Jeffara region is a geographic area located in the south-east of Tunisia, which partially covers three governorates, Medenine, Tataouine and Gabes, characterized by...
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