Ecosystem services approach

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Approach on salinity management and degraded ecosystems of CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems

WLE's flagship on regenerating degraded agricultural ecosystems works towards improved ecosystem services from degraded soils and landscapes. Degraded agricultural and pastoral ecosystems have a long history of abuse, suffering from high rates of erosion, mined and depleted soil fertility, , overgrazing, and salinization for example. They are often past sustainability thresholds requiring specific interventions aimed at restoring or regenerating the system’s capacity to contribution to productive and resilient livelihoods.

WLE work in these systems focuses on restoring and regenerating the support services that contribute to agricultural production, aiming to rebuild the ecosystems foundation of these productive landscapes. The activity cluster will identify, map and describe degraded systems and identify appropriate intervention options that combine technological and ecological approaches to agro-ecosystem regeneration and the changes in these services after interventions will be conducted within this flagship using the capacity developed in the core theme on Ecosystem Services and Resilience.

Two clusters of activities are included in this flagship. One cluster focuses on irrigated agricultural ecosystems and the other on rainfed agricultural and pastoral ecosystems. Natural resources management of both ecosystems impacts both included and adjacent ecosystems. WLE will use landscape based approaches to understand both local resource stock, and flows, both positive and negative to these adjacent communities. We will focus on interventions that are scalable, and contribute to landscape scale restoration impacts. Examples of activities in the clusters include: (1) the development of a salinity management framework within basins in the Nile delta, Central Asia and Tigris-Euphrates; (2) targeting at risk communities and designing agricultural and economic incentives to restore degraded soils and landscapes in sub-Saharan Africa; (3)addressing the challenges of smallholder farming communities in Central and South America; and (4) using agricultural biodiversity to improve regulating and supporting ecosystem services in agriculture landscapes in Central Asia.

Most landscapes consist of land with multiple uses and multiple benefits for men, women and youth. In this flagship understanding how the gendered use of landscapes, and multiple on- and off-farm income generating activities, affect and will be affected by initiatives that address land degradation will be addressed in the flagship work with the gender and equity in agriculture core theme. Since WLE works at the regional, national, or irrigation system level, knowledge will be relevant to various spatial scales while being sufficiently suitable for decision making and policy support.