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Palestinian Looks to NMSU for Arid Lands Information

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Palestinian Looks to NMSU for Arid Lands Information

Date: May 13, 1996
Editor: D'Lyn Ford, (505) 646-6528, dlford@nmsu.edu

LAS CRUCES -- A visiting Palestinian is hoping what works in the arid lands of New Mexico will also work in his home on the West Bank.

Hani Daraghmi, a biodiversity consultant with the Palestinian Institute for Arid Land and Environmental Studies (PIALES), recently visited researchers at New Mexico State University to learn more about conducting research in dry, arid environments.

"In Palestine, we are going through so many changes, political and otherwise, that we are just now starting to look at ways to conserve and manage our resources," he said.

Daraghmi said overgrazing is a common problem in Palestine, where land resources are limited. He toured the Jornada Experimental Range located about 25 miles north of NMSU's main campus in Las Cruces. The site includes 300 square miles of rangeland devoted to studying range management techniques and environmental management.

Before people can conserve their desert resources, they have to understand more about them, Daraghmi said. He is especially interested in setting up a Geographic Information System (GIS). This computerized mapping system can digitize and store maps of detailed information about climate, roads, water, towns, and vegetation, which can later be used by researchers in managing the land.

Daraghmi learned how to set up a digital mapping system at the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute.

Daraghmi's tour ended with NMSU's Biodiversity Assessment Group. The group works with computerized GIS information, databases and maps that are often hundreds of years old. As part of the tour, they discussed some of the errors that can occur when working with information originating from different time and size scales.

NMSU was the final stop for Daraghmi on a seven state research tour coordinated by the International Arid Lands Consortium.

Don Hegwood, consortium board member, accompanied Daraghmi on his U.S. tour, and said this trip helps improve understanding and encourage collaboration among Palestinians, Israelis and Americans.

"They are just now beginning to develop their infrastructure and this trip gives him some fundamental concepts to take back with him. Visits like his are quite valuable," Hegwood said. The consortium was established in 1990 by the Jewish National Fund, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and five U.S. universities, including NMSU, to promote research and training in management of arid lands worldwide.