Pastoral transhumance, Iran

IUCN Global Drylands Initiative

Conserving and sustainably managing drylands for the well-being of society

Drylands support one third of the Global Conservation Hotspot Area and are home to 28% of endangered species. They cover 41% of all land and include unique habitats such as Savannahs, mist forests and oases: these include high-value resource patches that are crucial for the survival of vast ecosystems and for long-range species migration that characterise the drylands. 

Drylands also provide ecosystem services that are enjoyed locally and globally. They provide fodder, food, fuel and other goods that are used to create resilient livelihoods. They regulate climate locally, through provision of shade and shelter, and globally through capture and storage of carbon: globally, 36% of terrestrial carbon is stored in drylands, mostly in dryland soils. Despite their aridity, they include globally important water sheds that supply clean water to millions of people, and they regulate flows and mitigate flood and drought risks. Read More

A united front in tackling one of the gravest environmental threats of our time – land degradation

By IUCN Director General, Inger Andersen, on World Day to Combat Desertification.

Contrary to popular belief, desertification is not simply a process of productive land being consumed by desert – by voracious, shifting sand dunes. Desertification means land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas of the world – unique habitats such as savannahs, mist forests and oases. Collectively these are referred to as drylands and when degradation happens, it can create desert-like conditions within them.

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Terracing on the Dogon Plateau, Mali

Terracing on the Dogon Plateau, Mali

Photo: Jonathan Davies


Agdal in Morocco

HOMING IN ON THE RANGE: Enabling Investments for Sustainable Land Management

Rangelands are places of important biodiversity and ecosystem services that occupy up to half of all land and up to three quarters of the world’s drylands, providing benefits to local communities, to economies and to global society. Desertification, or land degradation in the drylands, significantly affects rangelands, but in many countries measures to address rangeland degradation are weak or absent. Furthermore, evidence on the current health of rangelands is absent in most countries and this is contributing to inappropriate investments and policies that in turn can lead to desertification and poverty.



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