ICARDA at the International Exhibition and Forum on Afforestation Technologies

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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – last May, Dr. Mounir Louhaichi, ICARDA’s Research Team Leader of Rangeland Ecology and Forages, addressed the International Exhibition and Forum for Afforestation Techniques, organized by Saudi Arabia’s National Center for the Development of Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification (NCVCCD) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MoEWA).

The exhibition and the accompanying forum raise awareness of the increasing loss of vegetation cover in the region, which is vital for combating desertification and addressing climate change challenges in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. NCVCCD urged government agencies, semi-governmental organizations, companies, and non-profit organizations to become active stakeholders in projects that can rehabilitate land areas and slow down or even halt desertification. The forum is an opportunity for national and international organizations and companies to present the latest developments, technologies, and innovations, in vegetation cover development and conservation.

With more than 25 years of experience in rangeland ecology and management, Dr. Louhaichi presented research and innovation for sustainable large-scale rangeland rehabilitation that includes:

  • Understanding the leading causes of rangeland degradation in the region. For example, planting trees or cultivating cereals such as barley on rangelands can damage the land and cause biodiversity loss. Or how the prevalent mode of continuous grazing damage rangelands, compared to traditional grazing systems, based on the traveling herds’ mobility that allow vegetation recovery between grazing events.
  • Highlighting bottlenecks for large-scale rangeland restoration and rehabilitation, such as a lack of solid rangeland governance which is a key factor in achieving sustainable use of rangelands. In addition, the availability of well-adapted seeds and seedlings of native pastoral species that can thrive in the harsh climate are insufficient to cover the vast area identified for rehabilitation. These aspects are addressed in the CGIAR’s  Livestock, Climate and System Resilience (LCSR) initiative.
  • Raising awareness of essential rangeland rehabilitation practices such as breaking the soil surface crust by using shallow soil scarification, rainwater harvesting, reseeding of indigenous species, and proper grazing management, rather than intensive methods such as plowing and flood irrigation.

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