19.06.2012
Age: 5 yrs

Making drylands more resilient with a CASCADE of new research

Catastrophic shifts in drylands: how can we prevent ecosystem degradation?

We already know quite a bit about the coexistence and interdependencies of human communities, animals and plants, but we need to learn more about the thresholds that determine whether or not ecological communities can survive in drylands in the future. Are some types of ecosystem more resilient to change than others? How easily can degraded land be restored? A series of experiments in different sites across European drylands will hopefully provide some answers.

The aims and objectives of the CASCADE (Catastrophic shifts in drylands: how can we prevent ecosystem degradation?) project are to obtain a better understanding of sudden shifts in drylands that may lead to major losses in biodiversity and concomitant ecosystem services. By focusing on drylands, CASCADE will build on existing knowledge regarding shifts in these vulnerable ecosystem and further improve the current understanding of the biogeochemical mechanisms underlying sudden and catastrophic shifts.CASCADE aims to further develop instruments and tools to predict the proximity of dryland ecosystems to thresholds in such a way. These predictions can be used by policy makers and land users alike, for more sustainable management of drylands worldwide. Additionally, an online information system called CASCADIS will be established, providing details about the experiments, the results and the recommendations for preventing ecosystem degradation.

For more information about the CASCADE project please visit http://www.cascade-project.eu/index.php/project-information