Assessing land degradation and identifying potential sustainable land management practices at the subnational level in Lebanon

  • George MitriEmail author
  • Georgy Nasrallah
  • Karen Gebrael
  • Maria Bou Nassar
  • Manale Abou Dagher
  • Manal Nader
  • Nour Masri
  • Dominique Choueiter


Assessing land degradation is essentially needed for decision-makers to monitor and mitigate degradation and implement sustainable land management practices. More specifically, monitoring land degradation on a regular basis enables decision-makers to analyze impact of degradation and effects of sustainable land management practices. This requires adopting a precise methodology for assessing land degradation. With information form assessments, decision-makers can establish achievable management goals to attain land degradation neutrality as addressed by the Sustainable Development Goal 15 (i.e., SDG 15). Accordingly, this work aimed at developing a systematic approach for assessing land degradation at the subnational level with the combined use of geo-spatial information and field data. The specific objectives were to (1) assess trends in land degradation and the impact of historical land uses on the current landscape characters, (2) investigate and characterize principal criteria of land degradation, and (3) identify sustainable land management practices. Multi-source and multi-resolution spatial data were employed for assessing the three indicators of land degradation neutrality (i.e., changes in vegetation cover, land productivity, and soil organic carbon). Prioritizing lands prone to degradation was investigated using a set of spatial attributes of different weights. Field data collection involved the use of pre-defined set of questions for assessing the principal criteria of land degradation including type, extent, rate, degree, and causes of land degradation. Sustainable land management practices were identified and categorized accordingly. This assessment provided a means for prioritization of interventions (i.e., prevention, mitigation, and/or rehabilitation) in an area characterized by a climate varying from semi-arid to moist subhumid.


Land degradation Productivity Soil organic carbon Satellite remote sensing, geographic information system Sustainable land management practices 



The authors would like to acknowledge the “Sustainable Land Management in the Qaraoun Catchment” project funded by the Global Environment Facility (the GEF), implemented by the Lebanese Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Compliance with ethical standards


The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of its authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Ministry of Environment or the United Nations Development Programme, who will not accept any liability derived from its use.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of the EnvironmentUniversity of Balamand - KelhatEl KouraLebanon
  2. 2.GEF funded project “Sustainable Land Management in the Qaraoun Catchment, Lebanon,” Ministry of EnvironmentUnited Nations Development ProgrammeBeirutLebanon

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