The network brought together 13 countries (from northern Mediterranean Europe, North Africa, Middle and Near East) making a total of 32 partners, of whom 17 are research and educational institutions, 7 represent decision makers and the remaining 8 are farmer’s associations and/or nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). MEDCOASTLAND endorsed the ecosystem-based approach in natural resource management by giving equal importance to both biophysical and socio-economic features. Conclusions show that the fight against land degradation could be successful if land users meet their basic needs through income generating activities, if a good balance is found between bottom-up and top-down decision making and last but not least, policy, legislation, and the institutional framework makes its way towards implementation. The project has published five books totalling more than 3,000 pages, eight newsletters, and several technical reports.
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH Soil Sector/National Center for Remote Sensing/CNRS-L - LebanonInitiative partner
The National Council for Scientific Research is a national public institution, which, since its establishment by law on 14 September 1962, has been entrusted with a double mission: the first advisory, the second executive. Reporting to the Prime Minister, the CNRS is an autonomous office directed by a Board of Directors and managed by a Secretary General. The consultative mission of the CNRS involves the formulation of guidelines for national scientific policies aimed at enhancing the development of the country. As part of its executive mission, the CNRS secures the promotion, organization and realization of these policies in programmes of action, implemented in its own research centres or in collaboration with other academic, research and development institutions. As part of its main mission, the objectives of the CNRS are to develop scientific research in Lebanon and to direct that research to respond to the needs of the country and to science evolution and innovation worldwide.
THE ARAB CENTER FOR THE STUDIES OF ARID ZONES AND DRY LANDS, LEAGUE OF ARAB STATES - SyriaInitiative partner
The main mission of ACSAD is to face the challenge imposed by the arid and semi-arid environments which are characterized by fragile farming systems through the provision of scientific and applied data and advanced techniques in a way that allows the large-scale implementation of the tasks of the agricultural and social development and the optimum exploitation of the renewable natural resources in the arid areas.
National Agronomic Institute - TunisiaInitiative partner
The main activities of INAT deal with water, irrigation, agronomy, soils, biotechnology, food processes, animal sciences and socio-economics.
This project endorsed an ecosystem based approach that tried to establish an equilibrium between crop production and environmental protection.
The communication between several stakeholders involved in the process of natural resources management is still weak not only at regional level but also at national ones, despite land and water issues are at the core of the natural resources degradation problems in the region. It should be noted also that costs for ameliorating degraded lands are higher than preventing them of being degraded. Finally, there is understanding that political stability is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development and enhancing environmental protection. The events of the Arab Spring are another proof of such conclusions.
Only 5 % of the land in North Africa is suitable for crop production, while in Libya such figure stands at 2% and in Egypt and Algeria less than 4 %. On the other side population is increasing at very fast rate and is expected that by 2020 Egypt could have 100 million people and by 2050 perhaps 150 million. Who will feed Egypt and the rest of the population in the MENA region that is expected to overpass 300 million people by 2020? No matter the region will continue to rely on food imports to satisfy its nutrition needs, sustainable management of its limited land and water resources remain strategic priority and MEDCOASTLAND provided the necessary framework to work towards the achievement of these goals. Such actions include terracing of sloping lands to control erosion, amelioration of saline soils, improvement of soil fertility through the use of organic manure and green manuring, crop rotations, no till or reduced tillage and application of the principles conservation agriculture.
Six workshops and conferences held in Adana, Turkey, Marrakech, Morocco, Alexandria, Egypt, Bari, Italy, Malta, Beirut, Lebanon and Tunisia
Five books published
3.000 files of information retrieval with research results uploaded in the project database
8 electronic newsletters
5 peer review papers and numerous presentations in many international events
Memorandum of Understanding signed between all the partners for continued collaboration
Solid human background for sustained cooperation.
Main beneficiaries of the project:
• the Ministries of Agriculture of Jordan, Malta, Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, Algeria, Morocco, and Turkey.
• Research institutes and Universities in Italy, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Malta, Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, France, Spain, JRC Ispra of the EC and the Arab Ceter for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD) in Syria
• NGOs and farmer’s associations in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Syria,
This was the perfect project that brought together three stakeholder layers and the most rewarding aspect of it was the fact that local stakeholders were the final “judges” of the research results achieved by the scientific community. The European Commission appreciated the inputs of MEDCOASTLAND project in a special article published in the RTD Magazine of the EC Research & International Cooperation in July 2005
The project endorsed an approach where each member was clear about his duties and responsibilities, no matter if was a policy or decision makers, researcher or university professor or farmer. In total there were 17 researchers, 7 decision makers and 8 farmer organisations.
Not everything went smoothly. After one year, a decision was taken to replace two partners (one researcher and one farmer organisation) that did not fulfil their duties in the project. This change required a distribution of task, deliverables and milestones to other remaining partners. The most important aspect at the end was that the project successfully completed all its obligations as they were contracted with the EC.
One very important fact related to environmental impact was the promotion of sustainable land management techniques described in detail in the country reports published by the MEDCOASTLAND project. It was also suggested, to include wherever possible the principles of organic farming and conservation agriculture. In concrete terms three main aspects are of paramount importance in sustainable land management: 1) Assure permanent vegetation cover, 2) Minimum tillage operations, 3) crop rotations. If these simple aspect are carefully followed environmental quality of the soil is assured and crop productivity increases.
The success of MEDCOASTLAND was followed by many other projects in which the IAMB was either coordinator or partner. In addition the experience gained was extremely useful in developing research proposals for FP7 programme funded by the EC.
MEDCOASTLAND results were presented at various important international events, like the NATO conference on Peace Security in the Mediterranean held in Valencia, Spain in 2003, 18th World Congress of Soil Science held in Philadelphia, USA July 2006, International Conference on climate and land degradation organised by the World Meteorological Organization and UN Convention to Combat Desertification held in Arusha, Tanzania in December 2006, and many other events around Europe including a presentation at the headquarters of the EC in Brussels.