Responses and feedbacks of African dryland ecosystems to environmental changes

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Drylands occupy 43% of the African continent and play an important role in the global carbon cycle and in supporting local livelihoods. Understanding how dryland ecosystems respond to environmental changes, both structurally and functionally, is of great significance for sustainable dryland management. In this article, we review the current remote sensing-based knowledge on African dryland ecosystem dynamics and the main drivers of changes. Global CO2 enrichment, changes in rainfall regimes, and a decline in fire activity have collectively driven vegetation greening, woody plant increase and carbon dynamics in African drylands over recent decades, challenging the long-held desertification narrative. Here we also highlight the importance of rainfall–vegetation–fire feedbacks in enhancing dryland ecosystem resilience and predicting future ecosystem responses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

ID: 251635658