Department of RS and GIS, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Department of Geography, University of Jean Moulin Lyon 3, 7 Chevreul street, Lyon 69007, France
Desertification was recognized in Iran several decades ago. This phenomenon has gradually affected half the provinces in the country, where droughts exacerbate problems in these drylands. In response, the government has been active in providing considerable funds and human resources to halt desertification through investing in national research and executive projects over the last fifty years. Iran is an excellent case study at the global level for assessing anti-desertification and associated cost-benefit aspects as its climate, society and environment are very similar to the other 17 developing countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. In addition, the country has fifty years of experience in anti-desertification activities which have improved livelihoods through dry-farming, animal husbandry, fisheries, bee-keeping, and market gardening, leading to reverse migration from urban areas to stabilized rural areas. Based on several reliable national reports and case studies as well as two international datasets, an exploratory evaluation is provided for the monetary value of benefits from Iran’s anti-desertification programs. The pivotal premise of the paper is based on the economic valuation of preserved infrastructure and ecosystem services as a result of implementation of anti-desertification plans. Although a cost/benefit analysis was not applied to human resources, this paper also considered other indirect benefits to anti-desertification plans including job creation, improved health conditions, and increased levels of agricultural and industrial activity. This cost/benefit evaluation of anti-desertification programs in Iran is estimated to provide a high and positive contribution equivalent to about 3.75% of the country’s annual GDP.