JRC intensifies desertification research
The JRC is intensifying and globalising its research activities relating to desertification, drought and 'dryland' science. In 2008, a new research team was set up at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), with a view to developing benchmarks and indicators for monitoring and assessing desertification processes on a range of geographic scales. The research team is already engaged in several regional and global networks, providing key support to policy makers at a European level and beyond, and its activities are beginning to bear fruit.
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A special feature on "Climate Change and Desertification"1 in the journal Global and Planetary Change, published in December 2008, was edited by JRC scientists along with colleagues from the South African Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Australia's Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). This edition also contains the conclusions of a Global Change Research Workshop organised by the JRC in Wengen, Switzerland, in 2007, to collate learning on desertification processes over the previous three decades and on best practice in monitoring and modelling for the phenomenon.
The JRC provides scientific support for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and as a member of the Dryland Science for Development (DSD) consortium, it is preparing an important scientific conference being part of the 2009 session of the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology (CST). This event will take place in conjunction with the 9th UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP9) in late 2009 and will have as its goal the sharing of the latest global results of research on desertification processes in order to generate concise and targeted policy recommendations in the medium term.
Desertification directly or indirectly affects a billion people and as much as one third of the planet's surface. Specialists worldwide have teamed up to tackle this major environmental issue from a scientific point of view, sharing their knowledge globally and rendering the trends much more visible with latest digital mapping techniques.
1 Global and Planetary Change, Vol. 64, Issues 3-4, Dec. 2008