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Preparing desertification areas for increased climate change

Reference: LIFE16 CCA/IT/000011 | Acronym: LIFE DESERT-ADAPT



The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified Mediterranean ecosystems as being among the most likely to be affected by climate change, with a clear tendency towards drier and hotter conditions. Substantial warming and a significant decrease of precipitation is likely to occur in the period to 2050, although at local level changes might be even more dramatic, with an increase in extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, heavy rain, wind storms or storm surges.

These events will probably lead to a depletion of surface and ground waters, depletion of aquifers, salinisation in coastal areas and desertification. These phenomena could lead to changes in vegetation, soils, water availability and local climate to the point of unsustainable support for key soil ecosystem services. Shortage of water availability is also expected to significantly decrease crop productivity and forest and biomass extent, resulting in the likely crossing of critical thresholds of ecosystems services, especially in the summer period. Climate change has already resulted in significant biodiversity loss, range contraction of species, erosion, salinisation, rangeland degradation and loss of agro-biodiversity.


LIFE DESERT-ADAPT aims to demonstrate the positive effect of an integrated ecosystems approach that combines climate change adaptation and mitigation targets with improved socioeconomic development opportunities in areas subjected to land degradation and desertification. It will:

  • Demonstrate Desertification Adaptation Models (DAMs), aimed at countering aridification and subsequent land desertification in one region of Italy, of Spain and of Portugal. These DAMs will include innovative adaption technologies concerning land use, soil conservation and plant support – they will demonstrate combinations of techniques and species variations with regard to soil, plants and seeds, growing aids, mycorrhizae and facilities for ecosystem services. By incorporating climate change variables and structural and functional landscape complexity they seek to optimise resilience and adaptation to climate change, targeting the improvement of ecosystems and the socioeconomic system;
  • Develop a farmer adoption system – a commercial approach with short supply chains providing economic incentives for farmers to adopt DAM land use systems – to maximise outreach to farming communities;
  • Promote and replicate the DAMs and the project’s unique combinations of techniques and income sources from products and services among different stakeholders. In particular, local farmers seeking opportunities from climate resilient and profitable land use and policy-makers, to enable upscaling in the project’s regions and beyond;
  • Contribute to climate change mitigation through the climate-resilient land use systems introduced to enable the recovery of vulnerable and desertified land areas. These will lead to an increase in overall carbon sequestration in the soil and in above-ground vegetation and lower the carbon footprint of the farmed products.
  • Expected results:

  • Demonstration of innovative adaptation technologies, where the innovative part is the way in which methods are combined and integrated and in the balance achieved between economic benefits and benefits for the environment, biodiversity and climate;
  • Establishment of 10 DAMs;
  • 1 000 ha of land in Italy, Spain and Portugal managed through a combination of methods such as inter-planting, reforestation, water-saving technologies and soil protection;
  • Improved biodiversity, including a 50% increase in soil functional biodiversity; an increase of at least 10% of indicator species for birds and butterflies, invertebrates, soil fauna; and a 30% increase of nectar-producing plants in support of pollinating species (at least three species introduced by the project);
  • Improved socioeconomic benefits, with at least eight viable income sources selected from possible combinations of bio-products and ecosystem services; a €100 per ha (or 100%) income increase for farmers; an increase in employment to 0.1 full-time employees per ha and an overall Internal Rate of Return improvement of at least 6%; and
  • A net carbon removal of one tonne of CO2 per ha;
  • Successful replication and upscaling with maximised adoption of the adaptation technologies resulting in:

  • A self-supporting company for collective purchase, sales, marketing and farmer-promotion;
  • 10 project partners trained as promoters, each successful in knowledge transfer to 10 more farmers (100 farmers and 10 000 ha in total at project end);
  • At least 30 cooperation agreements signed with commercial partners for products and eco-services, with DAM products promoted at four trade fairs;
  • A fully-trained group manager and a sales manager, leading the group certification process in cooperation with promoters;
  • Synergies with national governments and authorities and other public and private entities for achieving policies and legislation modifications beneficial to agro-forestry and integrated land use management.


    Reference: LIFE16 CCA/IT/000011
    Start Date: 01/09/2017
    End Date: 01/09/2023
    Total Eligible Budget: 4,055,055 €
    EU Contribution: 2,433,020 €


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Universit degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli"
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: viale A. Lincoln 5, 81100, Caserta,
    Contact Person: Simona Castaldi
    Email: Send Email
    Website: Visit Website

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    • Natural resources and ecosystems


    • reforestation
    • desertification
    • agroforestry
    • carbon sequestration
    • land use


    • COM(2013)216 - EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change (16.04.2013)
    • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” (03.05.2011)


    Name Type
    Universit degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" Coordinator
    Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy Participant
    Ayuntamiento de Hoyos, Spain Participant
    REAM SRL, Italy Participant
    Municipality of Lampedusa e Linosa, Italy Participant
    Forestry Service Group BV, Netherlands Participant
    TerraSIG Lda., Portugal Participant
    Município de Serpa, Portugal Participant
    Associaçao de Defesa do Patrimonio de Mértola, Portugal Participant
    FREGUESIA DE CABEÇA GORDA, Portugal Participant
    Sociedade Agrícola Vargas Madeira, Lda, Portugal Participant
    Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal Participant
    Viveros Forestalis La Dehesa SL, Spain Participant
    Ayuntamiento de Valverde del Fresno, Spain Participant
    Societa Agricola Franco Turco, Italy Participant