Sustainable dryland management seeks to improve the conditions of people and ecosystems affected by degradation, but it is often unclear which land management strategies work, which ones do not and why. Monitoring and assessment (M&A) can support decision-making by providing this information. As implied by the 10-year Strategy of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), however, M&A efforts have thus far been insufficient or inadequate. We argue that integrative geospatial approaches should be implemented to enhance dryland management decision-making. By assimilating and linking human and environmental data, qualitative and quantitative data, as well as field and remotely sensed data in a spatially explicit framework, such approaches facilitate assessments of both the complexities and place-specificities inherent to sustainability. In addition, they help represent different stakeholder perspectives, promote communication among scientists from diverse backgrounds as well as between scientific and local experts, facilitate inter-institutional knowledge sharing, and create synergy between the UNCCD and other Conventions. Due to these benefits as well as the rapid evolution and increasing availability and affordability of geospatial data and technologies in all countries, it is appropriate to begin capitalizing more fully on them now for the M&A of land management sustainability. In order for integrative geospatial approaches to become more central to M&A efforts, however, capacities and infrastructure must be improved and standards and protocols developed for the collection, analysis, and modeling of data, for the evaluation of outputs, and for the reporting of results.
- Geographic information systems
- Land degradation
- Land management
- Remote sensing