The Nigerian Guinea Savannah is the most extensive ecoregion in Nigeria, a major food production area, and contains many biodiversity protection areas. However, there is limited understanding of the social-ecological features of its degraded lands and potential insights for sustainable land management and governance. To fill this gap, the self-organizing map method was applied to identify the archetypes of both proximal and underlying drivers of land degradation in this region. Using 12 freely available spatial datasets of drivers of land degradation—4 environmental; 3 socio-economic; and 5 land-use management practices, the identified archetypes were intersected with the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)-derived land-degradation status of the region, and the state administrative boundaries. Nine archetypes were identified. Archetypes are dominated by: (1) protected areas; (2) very high-density population; (3) moderately high information/knowledge access; (4) low literacy levels and moderate–high poverty levels; (5) rural remoteness; (6) remoteness from a major road; (7) very high livestock density; (8) moderate poverty level and nearly level terrain; and (9) very rugged terrain and remote from a major road. Four archetypes characterized by very high-density population, moderate–high information/knowledge access, and moderate–high poverty level, as well as remoteness from a major town, were associated with 61.3% large-area degradation; and the other five archetypes, covering 38.7% of the area, were responsible for small-area degradation. While different combinations of archetypes exist in all the states, the five states of Niger (40.5%), Oyo (29.6%), Kwara (24.4%), Nassarawa (18.6%), and Ekiti (17.6%), have the largest shares of the archetypes. To deal with these archetypical features, policies and practices that address increasing population in combination with poverty reduction; and that create awareness about land degradation and promote sustainable practices and various forms of land restoration, such as tree planting, are necessary for progressing towards land-degradation neutrality in the Nigerian Guinea Savannah.
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