Friday, 27 February 2009

Interpreting desertification

"The ‘Holistic’ Interpretation: Desertification Embedded in Notions of Human Intervention in Nature
The final interpretation of desertification may be termed a ‘holistic’ interpretation, in which desertification is understood as a wider phenomenon, and where the focus is placed on humans’ negative relationship with nature. This interpretation was only expressed by few of our respondents (about 5%), partly because it diverges most from both the ‘official’ and ‘popular’ interpretations of desertification highlighted above, and because it is, arguably, predicated on well informed and well educated stakeholder backgrounds. Some stakeholders mentioned both excessive urbanization and depopulation of rural areas as major causes for desertification, although this view was largely restricted to the academic sector. Interestingly, however, some of the stakeholders with agricultural backgrounds (e.g. members of farmers’
organizations and extension officials) also occasionally suggested this interpretation.

This wider understanding of the problem considers social issues as well as natural resource management, but is expressed mainly by stakeholders, who, by not being involved at the operative level of land management, can afford this moralizing approach. It is, therefore, an interpretation that is unlikely to influence practice, and is mainly held by actors who, due to their independent position (e.g. academics), lack of involvement with the practice of land management (education) or an already explicit connection to conservation issues (some government officials), can afford to have a wider view of the phenomenon that may even involve criticizing contemporary environmentally destructive processes."

JUNTTI, M. A. W., G.A. (2005) Conceptualizing Desertification in Southern Europe: Stakeholder Interpretations and Multiple Policy Agendas. European Environment, 15, 228-249.

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