According to global and continental data sets, a considerable fraction of global ecosystems are subjected to degradation, defined as the loss of biological and economic production potentials, mainly induced by poor l and management. Degradation in drylands is denoted as desertification. According to estimates, 20% of the global drylands, which cover 41% of the terrestrial ice-free surface, are subjected to degradation (Oldemann 1998; Dregne 1992; Prince 2002). Nevertheless, current understanding of degradation and its effects is limited and many uncertainties related to degradation and desertifi cation remain. In particular, there is a lack of reliable global, up-to-date data sets that could represent the basis for assessments of the effects of degradation and potentials of restoration (Foley et al. 2005).
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