A. Scope of the study 5 B. Background 6 C. Desert shru b rangelands 7 1. Definition 7 2. World distribution of desert shrub vegetation 8 3. Resource value of desert shrubs 12 D. Iraq, a brief introduction to the country 14 1. Environment 14 2. Population 17 3. Land use 18 4. Vegetation 19 I. INTRODUCTION I. A. Scope of the study The degradation of renewable natural resources in the arid areas of South West Asia has become a matter of great concern. Locally the effects of careless utili zation of the land and its resources had been felt long ago. It is, however, only relatively recently that the gravity of the situation is being generally and fully realised. It is now well understood that action is required to save what is left and possibly to restore what was once there. Such action requires organization and coordination, but above all knowledge of the present state of the resources and the impact of utilization processes. Part of this knowledge is already available. The problems are not confined to this part of the world's arid lands, but exist equally well elsewhere. Especially over the last decades an ever increasing number of studies have been published dealing with aspects of arid zone research. Problem analyses were followed by compila tions of knowledge in particular fields (White 1956; Hills 1966; Mc Ginnies et al. 1967, 1969, 1971;KauI1970;Clawsonetal.