Standards for desertification criteria and indicators designation

Whereas the desertification indicators in each region should be able to describe the qualitative impact of the considered criterion in the formation of desertification process regarding its importance, strength and extent; theretofore we have to find valid criteria and indicators for the measurement of desertification trends or talking about the assessment and control methods of this phenomenon will only be meaningful in books.

Another issue is the accessibility of the measurement means according to the certain conditions of the studying area. For instance, the lead accumulation indicator of soil as an assessment means of toxic substances accumulation indicator is considered inefficient and a waste of time in an area that is far away from the industrial poles and basically lead tetra-ethyl is not used for the enhancement of the octane number of the automobile fuels. Also a criterion should describe the affected area entirely, rather than areas out of the affected boundaries, and the indicators of the related criterion should be built up according to the area specifications and conditions (on local applicability level).

The last perception is based on the knowledge that without considering the cultural, social and economic conditions of a society, the transfer and application of the best and modern technologies for eradication of desertification is impossible; a perception that more than two decades (since 1980) absorb more advocates (JDCR, 1994). Therefore, taking into account the criteria such as local organs, such as the power structure, the state of human development indicators, social groups, race, gender, family relationships, religion, household behaviors and the state of the women, economic incentives, labor force, immigration patterns, land tenure, participation, receptivity level to group reflections, the importance of the structural management in decision-makings can be more advantageous to the assessment of the desertification trend and discovering confrontation methods rather than taking action on the basis of criteria and indicators resulted from the natural environment.

Rubio and Bochet (1996) presented a series of necessary specifications for the selected indicators of desertification as follows:

Desirably quantitative;

  • Highly sensitive to the environmental changes;
  • Widely applicable and accessible;
  • Relatively independent;
  • Easily measured and economical;
  • Describe the current situation;
  • Indicate the difference between the changes resulted from the natural cycles and human pressures;
  • Depending on the important ecological phenomena;
  • Accordance with the conditions of the studying area.

Finally, the difficult and time consuming process of desertification assessment will come to reality and make the desertification control process, shorter, cheaper, more efficient and sustainable when the criteria and the indicators designated have the following six specifications:

1)                  Authentic, definite and easiest possible criteria for the study of different dimensions of the desertification trends that is considered an obvious and indigenous descriptor;

2)                  Assessment possibility of the selected criteria for four aspects of current condition, speed, natural potential and desertification risks;

3)                  Simplest, cheapest and most efficient possible indicators by considering the regional specifications for measurement and analysis of the related criteria;

4)                  Designated criteria and indicators include the unique general specifications of the arid, semi-arid and arid sub-humid climatic zones and their local features in the environment of Iran;

5)                  Selected criteria should more consider the causes of desertification rather than the event itself;

6)                  Possibility of continual observation and deduction of the selected criteria for the purpose of evolution.

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