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Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Land degradation and climate change: building climate resilience in agriculture

Author
item Webb, Nicholas - New Mexico State University
item Marshall, Nadine - Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
item Stringer, Lindsay - University Of Leeds
item Reed, Mark - Newcastle University
item Chappell, Adrian - Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
item Herrick, Jeffrey - Jeff

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/23/2017
Publication Date: 10/1/2017
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5808523
Citation: Webb, N., Marshall, N., Stringer, L., Reed, M., Chappell, A., Herrick, J.E. 2017. Land degradation and climate change: building climate resilience in agriculture. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 15:450-459. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1530.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1530

Interpretive Summary: Global population projections suggest 9.7 billion people will inhabit the planet by 2050. Feeding these people presents an enormous challenge. While agricultural production and technological advances have sought to increase yields, a number of issues undermine production increases. Land degradation and climate change are two of the most pressing interlinked issues that both together and separately create risks for global agricultural production and food security. Research has started to unravel the relationships between land degradation and climate change more generally but a gap remains in understanding the implications, both positive and negative, of addressing these challenges together to inform adaptation planning for agriculture. The future of agro-ecological systems and global food security will depend on our ability to find innovative management and policy options that tackle these issues in tandem, in ways that also deliver positive outcomes for biodiversity. Here, we argue that addressing land degradation is a key and urgent strategy for adapting agriculture to climate change. We draw on relevant literature to establish the links between the two issues and identify four core actions that need to be taken. We contend that forward-looking, climate-resilient agriculture requires: i) knowledge building; ii) identification of key vulnerabilities; iii) knowledge exchange; and iv) adaptation strategies that harness multiple wins for land, climate and biodiversity and enable development and food security goals to be achieved.

Technical Abstract: Land degradation and climate change pose enormous risks to global food security. Land degradation increases the vulnerability of agroecological systems to climate change and reduces the effectiveness of adaptation options. Yet these interactions have largely been omitted from climate impact assessments and adaptation planning. We examine how land degradation can influence climate-change impacts and the adaptive capacity of crop and livestock producers across agroecological systems. We then present novel strategies for climate-resilient agriculture that support opportunities to integrate responses to these challenges. Forward-looking, climate-resilient agriculture requires: (1) incorporation of land degradation processes, and their linkages with adaptive capacity, into adaptation planning; (2) identification of key vulnerabilities to prioritize adaptation responses; (3) improved knowledge exchange across local to global scales to support strategies for developing the adaptive capacity of producers; and (4) innovative management and policy options that provide multiple “wins” for land, climate, and biodiversity, thus enabling global development and food security goals to be achieved.