ALN logo; link to Arid Lands Newsletter home page No. 58, Winter 2005
Soil management for drylands

Selected resources of interest


Rainwater harvesting for drylands. Volume 1: Guiding principles to welcome rain into your life and landscape, by Brad Lancaster. 2005. Tucson, Arizona: Rainsource Press. LCCN: 2005907763. US $24.95 + shipping.
Available from:
Rainsource Press
813 N. 9th Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705

Rainwater harvesting is an ancient practice in drylands, but in more recent times it has often been abandoned in favor of more "modern" approaches to the provision of water for human consumption and agriculture. In many cases this had led to serious environmental consequences and/or overconsumption of precious groundwater resources. Fortunately this trend is beginning to reverse itself as people increasingly realize the potential environmental and economic benefits of capturing and using precipitation as close to where it falls as possible. Yet, to date, designing water harvesting systems has seemed a daunting prospect for many individuals who have the desire to do so, but not the practical know-how. This first of three volumes* provides extensively researched and tested, simple, small-scale strategies from around the world for creating rainwater harvesting "nets" to use harvested water to improve the land at scales from household gardens and yards to parks, communities, farms and ranches. Throughout, the aim of this personable and accessible work is to give "ordinary" people the tools and knowledge they need to become more water self-sufficient while developing skills of self-reliance and cooperation along the way; in fact, it has great pertinence not just to individuals but also to designers, planners and policy makers.

*Volume 2, Water-Harvesting Earthworks, is due out in January 2007; Volume 3, Roof Catchment and Cistern Systems, will be published in 2008. Mr. Lancaster's article about a "water farmer" in Zimbabwe appeared in ALN No. 46.

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Adaptive Governance and water conflict: New institutions for collaborative planning. John T. Schoz and Bruce Stiftel, eds. 2005. Washington, D.C.: RFF Press. ISBN: 1-933115-19-X (pb). 273 pp. US $29.95.
Available from:
RFF Press
1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Water conflicts are nothing new in the arid western US; however, they are becoming increasingly common even in water-rich regions like Florida. Furthermore, these new conflicts generally surpass the current water governing bodies' geographic scope, statutory authority, and political constituencies--and thus, their ability to resolve the conflicts using existing management strategies. Hence, the focus of this book on adaptive governance, "the evolution of new institutions that attempt to resolve conflicts among competing authorities." Eight Florida case studies, chosen to represent a range of conflicts concerning water quality, water quantity and habitat preservation or restoration, are each enriched by commentaries from a wide variety of perspectives rooted in experience (e.g. urban planning, engineering, political science, administration). The overall aim is to "discuss five challenges that new institutions must overcome to develop sustainable solutions for water users: Who is to be involved in the policy process? How are they to interact? How is science to be used? How are users and the public to be made aware? How can solutions be made efficient and equitable?" Aimed primarily at a U.S. audience of water professionals, policy scientists, students, and researchers in natural resources management.

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Changing faunal ecology in the Thar Desert. B. K. Tyagi and Q. H. Baqri, eds. Jodhpur: Scientific Publishers (India). 2005. ISBN: 81-7233-402-8.
Available from:
Scientific Publishers (India)
5A, New Pali Road, P.O. Box 91
Jodhpur 342 001

Dedicated to Dr. Ishwar Prakash, "an untiring crusader in the cause of studies of Indian Desert Fauna," this book is a compilation of 15 articles on various aspects of faunal biodiversity of the Thar Desert of northwestern India. Its intent is to examine the regional ecological impacts of intense anthropogenic pressures on this unique ecosystem over the past 8 decades, beginning with the advent of extensive canalization of the desert beginning in the 1920s. Each article examines a different aspect of this biodiversity, ranging from the micro level (soil bioresources) to the macro level (mammalian diversity), and considering in between such specific fauna as termites, butterflies, mosquitoes, dung beetles, amphibians, reptiles and fish, birds, and rodents. The final chapter examines the relationship between climate change and the emergence of vector-borne diseases -- a topic of increasing relevance world-wide. Indeed, the intent of the editors has been to provide a compilation that will be highly useful not just as a record or ecological change in this important south Asian desert, but also as a model for similar inquiries in other parts of the world.

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Monitoring manual for grassland, shrubland & savanna ecosystems, by J. Herrick, J. W. Van Zee, K. M. Havstad, L. M. Burkett and W. G. Whitford. 2005. Las Cruces, NM: USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range. ISBN: 0-9755552-0-0. 236 pp. US $24.95
Available from:
University of Arizona Press
355 S. Euclid Ave., Suite 103
Tucson, AZ 85719

This practical, hands-on manual presents an integrated soil and vegetation monitoring system for rangelands that focuses on three basic and crucial ecosystem attributes: soil and site stability, watershed function, and biotic integrity. The 2-volume format is designed to make the materials accessible and useful to a broad audience. Those with minimal experience in science or rangeland management will find volume 1, "Quick Start," particularly handy, with tools and guidelines that will enable them to begin basic monitoring right away, as well as a useful checklist that will help them determine with chapters are most likely to be pertinent to their situation. More experienced users will especially appreciate Volume 2, "Design, Supplemental Methods and Interpretation," which provides more detailed guidance and includes numerous supplementary methods. Volume 2 also includes a section on Special Topics that includes guidelines on adapting the monitoring protocols for more specific management objectives like livestock production, wildlife habitat, invasive species control or recreational use. Of interest to a wide audience including ranchers, environmental organizations and land management agencies.

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NB: The following books, previously published in hardback by the University of Arizona press, are newly available in paperback:

Cultural memory and biodiversity, by Virginia Nazarea. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. 1998; paperback version US$24.95,. ISBN 0-8165-2547-1.

Sonoran Desert plants: An ecological atlas, by Raymond M. Turner, Janice E. Bowers and Tony L. Burgess. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. 1995; paperback version US$39.95, ISBN 0-8165-2519-6.

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