Global Arid Zone Project – Progress in global dryland restoration

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Nancy Shackelford, Gustavo Paterno, Daniel Winkler, Todd Erickson, Katharine Suding

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Drylands are some of the most difficult areas to restore, but paradoxically have only seen a small fraction of terrestrial ecology (6%) and restoration (<5%) studies. The Global Arid Zone Project, first conceived in 2018 and launched later that year, is aimed at building a continuously growing restoration tool that collates existing data into a usable data center. By compiling a unique global database on dryland ecosystem restoration, we hope to provide the ability to explore drivers of restoration success at an unprecedented scale. Here, we present the first analysis of the database. Our results were assembled from datasets across 174 sites on six continents, encompassing 594,065 observations of 671 plant species. Findings provide reason for optimism. Seeding in drylands had a clear positive impact on the presence of plant species. However, dryland restoration is also a risky proposition: 17% of the projects completely failed, with no establishment of any seeded species, and consistent declines were found in seeded species as projects matured. We also focus in on North American drylands, assessing changes in success through time, evolutions in seed mix design, and overarching patterns of native versus exotic seed success.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program