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


Biodiversity and Land Degradation Neutrality

By Jonathan Davies, Coordinator for IUCN’s Global Drylands Initiative.

The UNCCD COP12 is taking place in Ankara less than a month after the same parties reached agreement over the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This has created quite a buzz, with one of the main points of discussion at the COP being the adoption of the SDGs by the Convention. The main focus is on Target 15.3—achieving Land Degradation Neutrality—which is seen by many as the direct responsibility of the Convention. Desertification after all is defined by the Convention as ‘land degradation in the drylands’. A growing number of parties are challenging the emphasis on drylands and a hotly contested topic at the COP is whether to officially expand the scope to non-drylands.

Herd Grazing in Marsabit

Herd Grazing in Marsabit

Photo: Jonathan Davies


Halting land degradation, holistically

For the next 10 days IUCN experts will be supporting decision makers from 195 countries as they discuss solutions to the issues of desertification, land degradation and drought which are plaguing many areas of the world

Desertification, land degradation and drought are among the most serious environmental and developmental threats the world faces today. They threaten global food and water security and contribute to biodiversity loss and climate change. These among other issues are currently being discussed at the 12th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which is currently underway in Ankara, Turkey. 

Read More


Drylands in the Garba Tula district, north-east Kenya

Drylands in the Garba Tula district, north-east Kenya

Photo: Rafal Obrzud / IUCN



Useful Links
Land Degradation Neutrality: implications and opportunities for conservation
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    Yurt Among Green Hills, Kazakhstan

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Reversal of fortune
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Worms and termites – a tough sell
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    Kenya's wildlife

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Dispelling the myth
  • Jonathan Davies

    Jonathan Davies

    Photo: Jonathan Davies