Vegetation, Land-use, Desertification and Climate change in North-Eastern Brazil (VeLuDeClim)

Semi-arid North-Eastern Brazil (NEB) is highly vul-nerable to land degradation and desertification. This vulnerability is based on regional physical preconditions (geology, soil, climate) as well as on human-induced factors (e.g., population growth, land-use changes, resource use and management). Episodic extended dry periods (ENSO) and the partly over-exploitation of natural resources in-crease risks of desertification, soil salinization and loss of the very low soil fertility.

Any development and adaptation of concepts and strategies for sustainable land-use man-agement in the region demands
a) a reliable documentation of the spatial extent of vulnerable areas and
b) the analysis of seasonal and inter-annual variability of land surface responses to climatological conditions and anthropogenic im-pacts.

The Approach
VeLuDeClim-NEB thus investigates the following key scientific questions:
1) What are the most important direct and indirect parameters driving land-use and climate change in the region?
2) What are the specific characteristics of regional hot spots of desertification and land degradation within the study area?
3) How can remote sensing data be used to objectively map and monitor long-term as well as short-term indicators and parame-ters of land degradation including deserti-fication in the study area?
4) Do specific potentials exist in the region to sequester carbon (soil and plant reser-voir)?
The total study area is bordered by the nine re-gional states of the Brazilian Northeast (“região Nordeste”). A focus area within the Northeast is delineated by the two states Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba, relating to i) sensitivity of the area, and ii) knowledge and experience of both the Brazilian and German partners. Within this focus area, we build on a well-documented land degradation and desertification hot spot that is located at the border between the two states (the Seridó Region).

The 2-year ProBral project (2013–14) is supported by CAPES and DAAD.