11, Lee-Steere drive, Mariginiup, WA 6065 Australia, 327, rue A. L. De Jussieu, 34090 Montpellier France, 10, rue de Florette, 30250 Villevielle France
- Key words: desertification, desert, steppe, rangelands, arid zone, West Asia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iraq
- Page(s) : 152-68
- Published in: 2006
The region considered stretches from the Turkish Anatolian plateau to the Red sea in Southern Jordan over 1,200 km and from the Lebanese costal zone through Syria and Iraq to the Iranian border. This is the cradle of antic civilisations where pastoralism continues to be an essential agricultural activity (30% of agricultural income) supplying the local population with indispensable red meat and milk products. The climate is essentially Mediterranean with cool and cold winters, with monomodal and highly variable rainfall concentrated during December-February. The steppe and desert with dominant chamaephytes and ephemeroids cover large degraded areas of the region. This is due to systematic overgrazing, unrelenting fuel wood collection and hazardous cereal-barley cropping as a consequence of ever increasing human and animal population. These degraded rangelands contribute now only for 20-30% of the small ruminants diet. The RUE (Rain Use Efficiency) varies between 1.4 and 3.9 kg DM/ha/year/mm indicating consistent rangeland degradation. Barley grain, cereal and vegetables crop residues are now essential to the livestock diet, survival and fattening of small ruminants in the whole region as in North Africa. The future of rangeland resources of the Middle East and Middle Asia, essential to local population, remains quite gloomy unless proper conservation measures are implemented by strong and relentless political will and enforced without further delay.