Ongoing projects

PRACTICE – Prevention and Restoration Actions to Fight against Desertification

An Integrated Assessment / European Commission Support Action FP7
PRACTICE is a global initiative that brings together scientists and stakeholders from some of the most affected regions on earth in order to gather local and scientific knowledge and raise awareness to the challenge of desertification.

This way, we hope to learn from past and present experiences as well  as from exchanged information.
PRACTICE involves research teams and stakeholder platforms in sites from 12 different countries. These sites, or monitoring sites, are in:
- Mediterranean Europe: Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal;
- Africa: Marrocos, Namibia, South Africa;
- Middle East: Israel; - Asia: China;
- Central America and South America: Mexico and Chile.
Portugal contributes to PRACTICE with a site: Zona de Protecção Especial (ZPE) para as Aves de Castro Verde (Castro Verde Special Protection Area), located in Baixo Alentejo.
LPN is the Portuguese partner of the Project coordinated by the CEAM Foundation in Spain.

Objectives Activities  Results  |  Partners  |  Financiers  |  Project Stage


Desertification is an important socio-economic and environmental problem that affects many of the arid areas in the world, resulting in a significant loss of biological and economic productivity. Fighting desertification, improving efficiency in resource and land management represents a crucial step to improve social well-being in arid lands. Despite science’s remarkable progress in the comprehension of the causes and processes of desertification, it is still limited to the evaluation of practices to combat desertification as well as the exchange of experiences and knowledge and the incorporation of the social dimension in the solutions. That is why the adoption of best practices in prevention and restoration efforts may be compromised.
PRACTICE aims, firstly, to develop and apply participatory assessment tools to determine the effectiveness of prevention and recovery practices while integrating biophysical and human dimensions of desertification and the involvement of stakeholders at all levels. This involvement includes farmers, land owners, natural resource managers, scientists and politicians (both national and international). The tools developed under the Project context have great potential as they can be applied in other fields besides desertification (after the necessary adjustments).
Secondly, PRACTICE foresees the establishment of a long-term international network of monitoring sites to promote the exchange of knowledge regarding successful desertification combat practices all over the world. The aim is to provide and improve access to long-term data which will allow further analysis and research and ultimately the establishment of best practices.

For each Project site the teams of partners shall identify the stakeholders in the territory and the Desertification Combat Actions implemented onsite. The Actions are then assessed through a specifically created Protocol that demands compliance of the following general activities:

Carrying out interviews with the stakeholders to gather information about their perception regarding Desertification Combat Actions and local collection of indicators suggested during interviews to assess these actions;

Definition of biophysical, economic, social and cultural indicators for further measurement in the areas where the Actions will be implemented (common indicators and specific indicators for each site – proposed by specialists and interviewed stakeholders);

Organization of Workshops with the stakeholders for the application of specific participatory methodologies in order to obtain quantitative and qualitative data, and the possibility to exchange knowledge and social learning among participants;

Organization of a final Workshop that presents to stakeholders the results of the integrated assessment of the Desertification Combat Actions (obtained through a Multi-criteria Analysis which integrates the quantitative and qualitative data collected during the previous stages) and to whom will be requested a reassessment of the Actions in light of the exchange of knowledge and social learning enabled by the implemented Protocol. The Project team synthesizes and presents the results of this reassessment and, during the participative process, also collects quantitative and qualitative data.

The four Plenary meetings held in several of the participating countries (Spain, Italy, Portugal and South Africa) allow the presentation of the results of the work undertaken in several sites as well as the clarification of all partners questions. These meetings are meant to be a place of debate where scientists, stakeholders and representatives of the different territories can interact. During the Project development written and audiovisual elements are also created to document all findings. These elements constitute a means of promotion of the project outputs among the scientific community and general public. Namely the following:

Organization of Fact Sheets about the project in all partner entity languages; 

Organization of Fact Sheets about the Project and the onsite Desertification Combat Actions to be presented to the stakeholders during the interviews;

Interim report about the participatory process in all sites (under LPN coordination); 

Report for each site about the measuring of the onsite selected indicators; 

Final report on the participatory process carried out in all sites; 

Creation of informative videos to promote amongst the general public, i.e.: i)
LPN video about the patners meeting held in May 2011 in Castro Verde (includes a field visit with stakeholders and Project partners from several countries and a presentation of the preliminary results from the application of the first steps of the Protocol in Castro Verde); ii) video to be created after the final meeting in South Africa; iii) other videos created by the partners about their own sites, namely El Salado in Mexico; 

Data bases and relevant indicators available on the internet; 

Summary report with a global view on the identified desertification combat best practices. 

Written and audiovisual outputs of the Project are available at:


 Fundación CEAM - Spain

  • Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN) - Portugal
  • Universidad de Alicante - Spain
  • Fundación Universidad Empresa Región de Murcia & Ministério do Ambiente Espanhol of Environment - Spain
  • School of Environmental Sciences and Development, North-West University (NWU) – África do Sul
  • University of Trier - Germany
  • University of Hamburg, BioCentre Flottbek (UHAM) - Germany
  • Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad (IEB) - Chile
  • NE Normal University & Shengyang Institute of Applied Ecology (NENU-CAS) – China
  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki - Greece
  • Ben Gurion University (BGU) - Israel
  • Nucleo di Ricerca sulla Desertificazione (NRD), University of Sassari - Italy
  • Euro Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) - Italy
  • Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL) - Mexico
  • University of Aberdeen (UNIABDN) – United Kingdom
  • University of Arizona - USA

 Total cost: 1.109.720 €
CE Contribution: 976.963 €

Project Stage
Duration: 36 month | Starting Date: 01/09/2009 Ending Date: 31/08/2012