Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Assessing the effectiveness of sustainable land management policies for combating desertification : A data mining approach
Salvati, L. ; Kosmas, C. ; Kairis, O. ; Karavitis, C. ; Acikalin, S. ; Belgacem, A. ; Solé-Benet, A. ; Chaker, M. ; Fassouli, V. ; Gokceoglu, C. ; Gungor, H. ; Hessel, R. ; Khatteli, H. ; Kounalaki, A. ; Laouina, A. ; Ocakoglu, F. ; Ouessar, M. ; Ritsema, C. ; Sghaier, M. ; Sonmez, H. ; Taamallah, H. ; Tezcan, L. ; Vente, J. de; Kelly, C. ; Colantoni, A. ; Carlucci, M. - \ 2016
Journal of Environmental Management 183 (2016)3. - ISSN 0301-4797 - p. 754 - 762.
Human pressure - Indicators - Mediterranean region - Multivariate statistics - Response assemblage

This study investigates the relationship between fine resolution, local-scale biophysical and socioeconomic contexts within which land degradation occurs, and the human responses to it. The research draws on experimental data collected under different territorial and socioeconomic conditions at 586 field sites in five Mediterranean countries (Spain, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco). We assess the level of desertification risk under various land management practices (terracing, grazing control, prevention of wildland fires, soil erosion control measures, soil water conservation measures, sustainable farming practices, land protection measures and financial subsidies) taken as possible responses to land degradation. A data mining approach, incorporating principal component analysis, non-parametric correlations, multiple regression and canonical analysis, was developed to identify the spatial relationship between land management conditions, the socioeconomic and environmental context (described using 40 biophysical and socioeconomic indicators) and desertification risk. Our analysis identified a number of distinct relationships between the level of desertification experienced and the underlying socioeconomic context, suggesting that the effectiveness of responses to land degradation is strictly dependent on the local biophysical and socioeconomic context. Assessing the latent relationship between land management practices and the biophysical/socioeconomic attributes characterizing areas exposed to different levels of desertification risk proved to be an indirect measure of the effectiveness of field actions contrasting land degradation.

Identification of suitabel sites for rainwater harvesting structures in arid and semi-arid regions: A review
Ali, A.A. ; Riksen, M.J.P.M. ; Ouessar, M. ; Ritsema, C.J. - \ 2016
International Soil and Water Conservation Research 4 (2016)2. - ISSN 2095-6339 - p. 108 - 120.
Harvested rainwater is an alternative source of water in arid and semi-arid regions (ASARs) around the world. Many researchers have developed and applied various methodologies and criteria to identify suitable sites and techniques for rainwater harvesting (RWH). Determining the best method or guidelines for site selection, however, is difficult. The main objective of this study was to define a general method for selecting suitable RWH sites in ASARs by assembling an inventory of the main methods and criteria developed during the last three decades. We categorised and compared four main methodologies of site selection from 48 studies published in scientific journals, reports of international organisations, or sources of information obtained from practitioners. We then identified three main sets of criteria for selecting RWH locations and the main characteristics of the most common RWH techniques used in ASARs. The methods were diverse, ranging from those based only on biophysical criteria to more integrated approaches including socio-economic criteria, especially after 2000. The most important criteria for the selection of suitable sites for RWH were slope, land use/cover, soil type, rainfall, distance to settlements/streams, and cost. The success rate of RWH projects tended to increase when these criteria were considered, but an objective evaluation of these selection methods is still lacking. Most studies now select RHW sites using geographic information systems in combination with hydrological models and multi-criteria analysis.
Determining the saturated vertical hydraulic conductivity of retention basins in the Oum Zessar watershed, Soutern Tunisia
Bosch, S. van den; Hessel, R. ; Ouessar, M. ; Zerrim, A. ; Ritsema, C.J. - \ 2014
Wageningen/Médenine : Alterra, Wageningen/Institut des Régions Arides, Tunisia (Report / WAHARA number 22) - 136
waterbeheer - stroomgebieden - hydraulisch geleidingsvermogen - tunesië - water management - watersheds - hydraulic conductivity - tunisia
Evaluation and Selection of Indicators for Land Degradation and Desertification Monitoring: Types of Degradation, Causes, and Implications for Management
Kairis, O. ; Kosmas, C. ; Karavitis, C. ; Ritsema, C.J. ; Salvati, L. ; Acikalin, S. ; Alcala, M. ; Alfama, P. ; Atlhopheng, J. ; Barrera, J. ; Belgacem, A. ; Sole-Benet, A. ; Brito, J. ; Chaker, M. ; Chanda, R. ; Coelho, C. ; Darkoh, M. ; Diamantis, I. ; Ermolaeva, O. ; Fassouli, V. ; Fei, W. ; Feng, J. ; Fernandez, F. ; Ferreira, A. ; Gokceoglu, C. ; Gonzalez, D. ; Gungor, H. ; Hessel, R. ; Juying, J. ; Khatteli, H. ; Khitrov, N. ; Kounalaki, A. ; Laouina, A. ; Lollino, P. ; Lopes, M. ; Magole, L. ; Medina, L. ; Mendoza, M. ; Morais, P. ; Mulale, K. ; Ocakoglu, F. ; Ouessar, M. ; Ovalle, C. ; Perez, C. ; Perkins, J. ; Pliakas, F. ; Polemio, M. ; Pozo, A. ; Prat, C. ; Qinke, Y. ; Ramos, A. ; Ramos, J. ; Riquelme, J. ; Romanenkov, V. ; Rui, L. ; Santaloia, F. ; Sebego, R. ; Sghaier, M. ; Silva, N. ; Sizemskaya, M. ; Soares, J. ; Sonmez, H. ; Taamallah, H. ; Tezcan, L. ; Torri, D. ; Ungaro, F. ; Valente, S. ; Vente, J. de; Zagal, E. ; Zeiliguer, A. ; Zhonging, W. ; Ziogas, A. - \ 2014
Environmental Management 54 (2014)5. - ISSN 0364-152X - p. 971 - 982.
region ne spain - tillage erosion - soil displacement - translocation - vulnerability - sensitivity - performance - vegetation - systems - impact
Indicator-based approaches are often used to monitor land degradation and desertification from the global to the very local scale. However, there is still little agreement on which indicators may best reflect both status and trends of these phenomena. In this study, various processes of land degradation and desertification have been analyzed in 17 study sites around the world using a wide set of biophysical and socioeconomic indicators. The database described earlier in this issue by Kosmas and others (Environ Manage, 2013) for defining desertification risk was further analyzed to define the most important indicators related to the following degradation processes: water erosion in various land uses, tillage erosion, soil salinization, water stress, forest fires, and overgrazing. A correlation analysis was applied to the selected indicators in order to identify the most important variables contributing to each land degradation process. The analysis indicates that the most important indicators are: (i) rain seasonality affecting water erosion, water stress, and forest fires, (ii) slope gradient affecting water erosion, tillage erosion and water stress, and (iii) water scarcity soil salinization, water stress, and forest fires. Implementation of existing regulations or policies concerned with resources development and environmental sustainability was identified as the most important indicator of land protection.
Evaluation and Selection of Indicators for Land Degradation and Desertification Monitoring: Methodological Approach
Kosmas, C. ; Karis, O. ; Karavitis, C. ; Ritsema, C.J. ; Salvati, L. ; Acikalin, S. ; Alcala, S. ; Alfama, P. ; Atlhopheng, J. ; Barrera, J. ; Belgacem, A. ; Sole-Benet, A. ; Brito, J. ; Chaker, M. ; Chanda, R. ; Coelho, C. ; Darkoh, M. ; Diamantis, I. ; Ermolaeva, O. ; Fassouli, V. ; Fei, W. ; Fernandez, F. ; Ferreira, A. ; Gokceoglu, C. ; Gonzalez, D. ; Gungor, H. ; Hessel, R. ; Juying, J. ; Khatteli, H. ; Kounalaki, A. ; Laouina, A. ; Lollino, P. ; Lopes, M. ; Magole, L. ; Medina, L. ; Mendoza, M. ; Morais, P. ; Mulale, K. ; Ocakoglu, F. ; Ouessar, M. ; Ovalle, C. ; Perez, C. ; Perkins, J. ; Pliakas, F. ; Polemio, M. ; Pozo, A. ; Prat, C. ; Qinke, Y. ; Ramos, A. ; Riquelme, J. ; Romanenkov, V. ; Rui, L. ; Santaloia, F. ; Sebego, R. ; Sghaier, M. ; Silva, N. ; Sizemskaya, M. ; Soares, J. ; Sonmez, H. ; Taamallah, H. ; Tezcan, L. ; Torri, D. ; Ungaro, F. ; Valente, S. ; Vente, J. de; Zagal, E. ; Zeiliguer, A. ; Zhonging, W. ; Ziogas, A. - \ 2014
Environmental Management 54 (2014)5. - ISSN 0364-152X - p. 951 - 970.
mediterranean conditions - aggregate stability - soil properties - rock fragments - organic-matter - vegetation - tillage - biomass - erosion - greece
An approach to derive relationships for defining land degradation and desertification risk and developing appropriate tools for assessing the effectiveness of the various land management practices using indicators is presented in the present paper. In order to investigate which indicators are most effective in assessing the level of desertification risk, a total of 70 candidate indicators was selected providing information for the biophysical environment, socio-economic conditions, and land management characteristics. The indicators were defined in 1,672 field sites located in 17 study areas in the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Based on an existing geo-referenced database, classes were designated for each indicator and a sensitivity score to desertification was assigned to each class based on existing research. The obtained data were analyzed for the various processes of land degradation at farm level. The derived methodology was assessed using independent indicators, such as the measured soil erosion rate, and the organic matter content of the soil. Based on regression analyses, the collected indicator set can be reduced to a number of effective indicators ranging from 8 to 17 in the various processes of land degradation. Among the most important indicators identified as affecting land degradation and desertification risk were rain seasonality, slope gradient, plant cover, rate of land abandonment, land-use intensity, and the level of policy implementation.
Replicable Participatory Water Harvesting Selection Methodology
Sawadogo, H. ; Hessel, R. ; Ouessar, M. - \ 2013
Wahara project (Wahara-Report Series 17) - 14 p.
The developed methodology for the selection workshop can be summarized as shown in table 1. The developed methodology ensures that the stakeholder workshop are executed in similar fashion in all 4 study sites, which will make it easier to compare workshop results between study sites. It should be noted that study site partners do need to ensure that the methodology that is followed fits into the local context and circumstances; therefore the developed methodology may be adapted on details to better suit local conditions.
D1-4 Report on the assessment of potential of water harvesting
Ouessar, M. ; Hessel, R. ; Kirkby, M. ; Sghaier, M. ; Ritsema, C.J. - \ 2013
Tunisia : Wahara project (Wahara - Report Series 10) - 13 p.
Huge potential exist in Africa for surface WH as well as groundwater recharge. Most of the study sites belong to areas with high potential. The teams have the tendency of adopting already existing WH techniques as they do not need extension efforts from the researchers. However, they are very reluctant about the introduction of new techniques from elsewhere as this process is somewhat risky and may need some time to be completed. In WAHARA, 2-3 WHT will be test-implemented and monitored in each of the study sites. At least one of these will be an innovative WHT for each country. This will allow stakeholders to see such an innovative WHT, which will make them more familiar with it and which makes things more concrete, thus hopefully provoking a process of adaptation in which the introduced WHT is adapted to better fit local circumstances
The development of soil and water conservation policies and practices in five selected countries from 1960 to 2010
Graaff, J. de; Aklilu, A. ; Ouessar, M. ; Asins-Velis, S. ; Kessler, A. - \ 2013
Land Use Policy 32 (2013). - ISSN 0264-8377 - p. 165 - 174.
Since the 1930s there has been worldwide concern about the effects and impacts of land degradation. After the problems experienced in the Dust Bowl in the USA, much attention was paid to soil and water conservation in both developed and developing countries. Initially Governments stimulated the establishment of physical control measures, such as terraces, check dams and reforestation. This was achieved through top-down regulations, and Forestry Departments were often in charge of the implementation. Subsequently the measures were implemented through more specialized agencies, and later with incentives, such as food aid in developing countries and subsidies in developed countries. In some cases farmers were mobilized to work together on the establishment of the conservation measures. Because of the low success rate of this top-down approach with line interventions, it was realized that a more participatory approach had to be followed. The emphasis then shifted to area interventions such as cover crops, mulching and composting. In some countries voluntary ways of collaboration between farmers were developed. More recently Conservation Agriculture has become popular, focusing on less soil disturbance, continuous land cover and crop rotations. This paper analyses whether and to what extent countries have followed such general trends in their soil and water conservation policies (since the 1990s often referred to as sustainable land management) or whether countries have also followed their own specific strategies. A historical (1960–2010) and comparative analysis of the development of these sustainable land management policies and practices is undertaken in five selected countries: Indonesia, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Spain and Bolivia.
Report on water harvesting inventory history and success stories
Ouessar, M. ; Hessel, R. ; Sghaier, M. ; Ritsema, C.J. - \ 2012
Wageningen : Alterra, Wageningen-UR (WAHARA - report series 05) - 19
The potential for WH in an array of biophysical and human environmental settings in rainfed Africa: Stakeholder workshop
Ouessar, M. ; Hessel, R. ; Sghaier, M. ; Ritsema, C.J. - \ 2012
Wageningen : Alterra, Wageningen-UR (WAHARA - report series 04) - 40
Study Site Database of Spatial and non-Spatial Data
Ouessar, M. ; Zaied, M. Ben; Hessel, R. ; Sghaier, M. ; Ritsema, C.J. - \ 2012
Wageningen : Alterra, Wageningen-UR (WAHARA - report series 03) - 98
Development of sustainable land management policies and practices in five selected countries from 1960 to 2010.
Graaff, J. de; Aklilu, A. ; Ouessar, M. ; Asins-Velis, S. ; Kessler, A. - \ 2012
ABSTRACT Since the 1930s there has been worldwide concern about the effects of land degradation. After the problems experienced in the Dust Bowl in the USA, much attention was paid to soil and water conservation in both developed and developing countries. Initially Governments have stimulated the establishment of physical control measures, such as terraces and check dams, and reforestation. This was achieved through top-down regulations, and Forestry Departments were often in charge of the implementation. Subsequently the measures were implemented through more specialised agencies, and later with incentives, such as food aid. In some cases farmers were mobilised to work together on the establishment of the measures. Because of the low success rate of this top-down approach with line interventions, it was realised that a more participatory approach had to be followed. And the emphasis then shifted to area interventions such as cover crops, mulching and composting. In some countries voluntary ways of collaboration between farmers were developed. More recently Conservation Agriculture has been promoted, focusing on less soil disturbance, continuous land cover and crop rotations. This paper analyses whether and to what extent countries have followed such general trends in their soil and water conservation policies, since the 1990s often referred to as sustainable land management, or whether countries have also followed their own specific strategies. A historical (1960-2010) and comparative analysis of the development of these sustainable land management policies and practices is made in five selected countries (Indonesia, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Spain and Bolivia). Keywords: soil and water conservation, sustainable land management, policies, approaches, practices
Evaluation of the on-site impact of water harvesting in southern Tunisia
Fleskens, L. ; Stroosnijder, L. ; Ouessar, M. ; Graaff, J. de - \ 2005
Journal of Arid Environments 62 (2005)4. - ISSN 0140-1963 - p. 613 - 630.
irrigation - soil
Water harvesting techniques (WHT) play an important role in water resources conservation in (semi-) arid environments. However, the impacts of WHT are not clearly understood. This paper presents a method to measure increased water availability to olive (Olea europeae) trees grown on the terraced area of a traditional WHT site in southern Tunisia (jessr) and to translate these measurements into effects on yield. Although the WHT were shown to greatly enhance possibilities for olive growing, yields remain dependent on water supply (rainfall+run-on) in spring. Critical factors in the method described are the maximum available soil water capacity (ASWmax), crop and yield response factors (kc, kyveg and kyfruit) and the yield consistency index (YCI). Detailed accounts are presented for the costs and benefits of jessr construction and olive production, and the WHT are evaluated using cost-benefit analysis. Difficulties and assumptions are discussed and it is concluded that on-site effects alone might not justify investing in the construction of WHT
An integrated approach for impact assessement of water harvesting techniques in dry areas: the case of oued Oum Zessar watershed (Tunisia)
Ouessar, M. ; Sghaier, M. ; Mahdhi, F. ; Abdeli, F. ; Graaff, J. de; Chaieb, H. ; Yahyaoui, H. ; Gabriels, D. - \ 2004
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 99 (2004)1-3. - ISSN 0167-6369 - p. 127 - 140.
In the arid regions of Tunisia, considerable investments are being made to maintain the old water harvesting techniques and introduce new ones to capture the scarce amount of rainwater (100 mm to 230 mm annually) for agricultural and domestic purposes. However, no detailed assessment of the multiple effects and the costs and benefits of these techniques have been made so far. This paper summarizes the results of an in depth investigation of the multiple impacts (runoff mobilization, ground water recharge, agro-socio-economic impacts) of the water harvesting works undertaken in the watershed of oued Oum Zessar (southeastern Tunisia). The importance of interdisciplinary and integrated approaches was revealed through this detailed impact assessment and economic evaluation. In fact, the profitability of the water harvesting works depends largely on the criteria chosen. However, further refinements are needed to better include all possible impacts (positive and negative) that occur as a result of the installation of the water harvesting structures
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