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date: 25 January 2021

Forests and Desertificationlocked

  • Lynn M. WagnerLynn M. WagnerInternational Institute for Sustainable Development
  •  and Deborah DavenportDeborah DavenportInternational Institute for Sustainable Development


Both desertification and forest policies address environmental issues related to land. However, the types of land covered and the ways the issues associated with that land are conceptualized represent opposite ends of a spectrum, with the former policy area focusing on land degradation in areas with limited biodiversity and the latter relating to protection of lands comprising some of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Moreover, despite their common denominator as issues related to land, the international studies literatures on desertification and forests, like the international policy responses to them, have taken different paths. A number of United Nations (UN)-backed research efforts have sought to define the concept, assess the impacts, and identify possible actions to address the desertification phenomenon. International studies scholarship has also focused on transformations in international policy approaches to deserts, such as the implementation of certain plans of action. Forests, meanwhile, have received renewed attention at the international policy-making level, due to the fact that even though forests themselves fall within the jurisdiction of sovereign states. Historically, deforestation the world over has been associated with conversion of land for agriculture and human settlement. In recent decades, this has been particularly the case in developing countries, though recent deforestation trends have also been traced back to the current global economic system that encourages privatization of forestland.

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