A systems approach to restoring degraded drylands

James, Jeremy J
Sheley, Roger L
Erickson, Todd
Rollins, Kim S
Taylor, Michael H
Dixon, Kingsley W
Journal of Applied Ecology
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Drylands support over 2 billion people and are major providers of critical ecosystem goods and services across the globe. Drylands, however, are one of the most susceptible biomes to degradation. International programmes widely recognize dryland restoration as key to combating global dryland degradation and ensuring future global sustainability. While the need to restore drylands is widely recognized and large amounts of resources are allocated to these activities, rates of restoration success remain overwhelmingly low. * Advances in understanding the ecology of dryland systems have not yielded proportional advances in our ability to restore these systems. To accelerate progress in dryland restoration, we argue for moving the field of restoration ecology beyond conceptual frameworks of ecosystem dynamics and towards quantitative, predictive systems models that capture the probabilistic nature of ecosystem response to management. * To do this, we first provide an overview of conceptual dryland restoration frameworks. We then describe how quantitative systems framework can advance and improve conceptual restoration frameworks, resulting in a greater ability to forecast restoration outcomes and evaluate economic efficiency and decision-making. Lastly, using a case study from the western United States, we show how a systems approach can be integrated with and used to advance current conceptual frameworks of dryland restoration. * Synthesis and applications. Systems models for restoration do not replace conceptual models but complement and extend these modelling approaches by enhancing our ability to solve restoration problems and forecast outcomes under changing conditions. Such forecasting of future outcomes is necessary to monetize restoration benefits and cost and to maximize economic benefit of limited restoration dollars.
Name of Journal: 
Journal of Applied Ecology
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Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.