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Confronting land degradation and climate risks in dryland agro-ecosystems

Ravindranath, Darshini; (2018) Confronting land degradation and climate risks in dryland agro-ecosystems. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Drylands cover nearly half of the earth’s terrestrial surface and are home to unique ecosystems and vibrant cultures. Dryland communities face various challenges of living in the harsh and variable conditions presented by their environment and landscapes. These challenges are magnified in the arid landscapes of India, where agriculture is largely rain-fed and human and livestock population densities are some of the largest in the world. Communities and landscapes in arid India are exceptionally vulnerable due to intensifying dryland degradation, increasing rainfall variability along with climate change. This thesis contributes to a critical research area by developing and applying a methodological framework centred on ‘vulnerability’ for investigating dryland degradation in India’s arid landscapes. Dryland degradation is studied as a synthesis of the complex interactions between socio-ecological system functions within inherently dynamic environments. The empirical basis for the study is the use of mixed methods incorporating primary and secondary data, enriched by community perspectives. The study provides new insights through findings on the interactions between land use, land degradation, and climate risks. It addresses gaps in drylands research, especially in the development of a context specific vulnerability framework for drylands. It, furthermore, uses this framework to provide recommendations to confront dryland degradation while planning for effective adaptation. Overall, the analysis finds that the dominant narrative in India - of poor farmers in the Thar desert struggling to cope with drought, in need of protection from their natural environment – to be fundamentally misplaced. However, as their land becomes increasingly degraded and their surrounding climate less predictable, their socio-cultural systems and institutions become less resilient. As a result, arid zone farmers are now more likely to turn to strategies that aim for short-term solutions, which may only exacerbate vulnerability and land degradation in the longer term.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Confronting land degradation and climate risks in dryland agro-ecosystems
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Agriculture; Drylands; Dryland degradation; Rajasthan; India; Adaptation; Climate change; Vulnerability; Rural livelihoods.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10046854
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