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MSc thesis subject: Assessing the land use intensity in rangelands towards reaching different SDGs

As agreed by The United Nations and its member states, SDG-2 goal on “Zero Hunger” aims to eradicate hunger and promote sustainable agriculture. Pastoral farmlands are an important part to achieve this goal as it supports the livelihoods of rural populations on almost half of the world’s land. This mostly concerns areas where crop production is difficult (e.g., drylands, highlands, wetlands). At the same time, these areas are highly susceptible to climate change and human influences which can lead to deterioration of ecosystem functions through land degradation and desertification. This problem is the focus of SDG 15.3 target “End desertification and restore degraded land”.
Therefore, supporting the food security of pastoralists (SDG2) while maintaining the ecosystems and ending desertification and land degradation (SDG15.3) is essential. Remote sensing and geo-information data is the main tool to monitor and provide spatially explicit information on pastoral farmlands, intensity of its use and natural conditions in order to help decision making and policies towards sustainable pastoral management and therefore towards achieving the SDG2 goal.

Due to the advantages in food security and livelihood, livestock quantity has been increasing in pastoral lands. However, the areas used for pastoral grazing remains the same. This creates pressure on the environment and over-utilizing rangelands.

In order to balance SDGs on food security and ending desertification and land degradation, rangeland management need to adopt the optimal livestock density that the rangeland can sustain without negative impact on its capacity. This study specifically focuses on central Mongolia, a country where pastoral rangelands directly support one third of its population. The region is experiencing over utilized rangelands. Therefore, evaluating carrying capacity of pastoral lands and assessing the current stocking density will provide useful information to support rangeland managers towards reaching various SDGs.

The study will involve assessing carrying capacity, biomass and stocking density of rangelands with use of in-situ, remote sensing and geospatial data. Research interests also extend to assessing trends in pastureland use.

Literature

Requirements

  • R or python scripting skills
  • Affinity to work with remote sensing and geospatial data

Theme(s): Sensing & measuring, Integrated Land Monitoring, Human – space interaction