Categorisation of typical vulnerability patterns in global drylands

D. Sietz, M.K.B. Lûdeke, C. Walther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


Drylands display specific vulnerability-creating mechanisms which threaten ecosystems and human well-being. The upscaling of successful interventions to reduce vulnerability arises as an important, but challenging aim, since drylands are not homogenous. To support this aim, we present the first attempt to categorise dryland vulnerability at a global scale and sub-national resolution. The categorisation yields typical patterns of dryland vulnerability and their policy implications according to similarities among the socio-ecological systems. Based on a compilation of prevalent vulnerability-creating mechanisms, we quantitatively indicate the most important dimensions including poverty, water stress, soil degradation, natural agro-constraints and isolation. A cluster analysis reveals a set of seven typical vulnerability patterns showing distinct indicator combinations. These results are validated by case studies reflecting the cluster-specific mechanisms and their spatial distribution. Based on these patterns, we deduce thematic and spatial entry points for reducing dryland vulnerability. Our findings could contribute new insights into allocating the limited funds available for dryland development and support related monitoring efforts based on the manageable number of key indicators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-440
JournalGlobal environmental change : human and policy dimensions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • water-use
  • rangeland degradation
  • multiple stressors
  • land degradation
  • rural poverty
  • south-africa
  • livelihoods
  • desertification
  • sustainability
  • mexico


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