All righty, I'll just share my experience from my own neck of the woods. I'm over in Arizona. I, too, have about 1/3 of an acre that plants are in. I'm in a desert area with alkaline soil, an average temp of about 100-101F in the Summer, average lows about 42 in the winter, summer monsoons, and about 10-12 inches of rain a year. Very windy during some parts of the year (but not all). The main difference here seems to be that my property has hard clay soil with little to no organic matter, as opposed to sandy. And the humidity here is much lower for at least half the year, even if it's about the same during monsoons.
I have some swales, many native plants, and my fruit trees are citrus, olive, pomegranate, fig, guava, apricot, texas persimmon, native mulberries, and I'm thinking about an avocado. Have had some strawberries for a few years now, as well as grapes, and looked at mango, as well. Used to have an almond tree.
Enough similarities that I hope this will be of use.
1. re: the mesh in the ground - I would pay attention to the size of the mesh vs. the size of the root system for the trees. Many desert adapted trees may have shallow, wide spreading roots, so they might grow THROUGH the mesh. This might be fine, or it might be an issue if your mesh is too fine and the roots start getting rather large, you know?
2. Re: animal pests in general, this is some of my experiences. The things is, as you've noted, there really is not a lot around there. which means that anything you grow is like animal buffet season for every animal that lives in the area and eats plant matter, and it will remain that way as long as you have growth there. Obviously you'll need some kind of protection. However, if you can figure out easily continuing methods to keep them away, and ways to make the animals work for you, eventually, rather than against (to a certain extent), it can be a huge benefit. Some examples for my own property.
I have some native species of plants in the ground that serve as nesting areas or roosting areas for birds - the birds pick off all the caterpillars for the plants that need it, as a result, especially as they are looking for food for the babies and my plants are the nearest sources of insects. Quails here like to dig up debris ridden soil for bugs, and would always dig up my seedlings along with the mulch while doing so - I just put in a few rocks near any planted seedlings and it made them unable to dig it up, but they could dig nearby. So as the tree/bush grew, they would dig near it, keeping pests down and helping fertilize a little too, as they go.
Planting a visual, strong smelling barrier plant around things I don't want eaten was very helpful - it takes a while to grow, though, and if the animals see something and eat it BEFORE the barrier is complete, they will keep trying to come to the same place for a few years, so the barrier concept worked better if it was done before I planted anything. Planting strong smelling (and unappealing scented, to animals, at least) plants near seedlings helped 'hide' them, as well.
Planting some of the native food sources for these same animals, just outside the strong smelling barrier, can help keep them satisfied enough they are not looking further into your area for more food, sometimes. And may provide you with an area of richer soil due to local animal manure too, that you could harvest and trade out for poorer soil inside.
One thing that helped in not attracting animals...having a few small dishes of water a bit a ways from new seedlings. Many of the animals in low rainfall areas are drawn to anything that might give them water, especially new juicy plants, and so providing water seemed to help keep them away from the tender, juicy seedlings. Don't know if it would work there, but it seemed to help.
Also, not watering in the evening can help. I know that water conservation suggests evening watering, but the problem is, in areas where there is little water and lots of wild animals, the scent of damp ground draws animals like a magnet. AND they will often dig up ground looking for the source of the water, so your plants suffer for it. If you can get it so the ground is no longer damp enough for the smell to be around by the time evening hits and the nocturnal animals won't be drawn over as much.
When it comes to mesh - many of the mice, rats, gophers, can climb OVER fencing, as well as dig under. :-/ It's one of the reasons I started trying to distract the little suckers, because the amount of hardware I was going to have to go through to keep them out was becoming far too expensive.
3. wind - The barrier and native plants for the critters, if you get it started first, can be a great help for your OTHER plants. It's going to make you a wind break, it may help give slight shade in certain areas, and it may help prepare the soil more so you have a little nicer area.
4. Pioneer species - One thing that popped out to me was growth rate and root spread. If you are thinking to try and have a good amount of biomass/pioneer plants set up by 3 years, you really want some fast growing ones. Mesquite, at least, doesn't fall in that category - it's pretty slow to grow, at least in my area. I am not as familiar with the others, but that one stood out to me, so you might want to check the others - find some that can be 1-2 meters tall by 3 years, you know? And I'd really double check how much water they'll require to get that tall.
Also, you'll want to check out root spread for some of these. For example, mesquite root spread is about twice the diameter of the branch spread - it's enormous. Cactus is more, if I recall right. And both of these, if there is water nearby, will send huge amounts of roots to the water they can reach and it can really impact other plants in the area if they are not competitive enough.
I have a number of mesquite - they have been GREAT plants for helping enrich the soil and shelter other plants, for dappled shade. A little for adding nitrogen if you are digging branches and leaf back into the soil. Not so great for windbreak as they are too open. However, they work well primarily with plants that, like the mesquite, need no further watering once established. No irrigation. Planting new plants under a mesquite that need watering for a year or two before establishment, or plants that will periodically need irrigation, ended up with massive amounts of mesquite roots growing into the area and the new plant struggling. Planting seeds, and letting native rainfall do the trick, has done just fine under mesquites. But that means either you need to plant to chop these suckers down, or plan what will be under AND near them, accordingly, you know?
Another thing - I do not know, but there is a possibility you may have to think smaller than tress for pioneer plants, like bushes or even annuals, if the soil is bad enough. Where I am, in some areas, I had to let certain native 'weeds' grow first, like a local plant called burroweed, because the ground was so utter crud that not even native trees could handle it. I tossed some native tree seeds around once a year (just a few). And it took a few years, but in these areas, when I noticed some native trees starting to sprout up (finally), then it was a good sign to me that the soil was good enough that I could start planting myself, you know?
Another thing - while I think it's really important to plan things out, it's good to remember you may need a lot of patience, as cliche as that sounds. The worse your soil is, the longer it's going to take to build it up into something awesome. You may be able to do it in 3 years, or it may take 5. Or it may take 8 or 10 (hopefully not, but the point is, you want to be prepared for the possibility). I have had this property for 10 years now, and quite frequently, I ended up planting something before the area was really ready for that type of plant. Maybe the soil wasn't built up enough, or there wasn't enough protection from wind or sun, etc... And almost always, the plant struggled, suffered, and many times died. Whereas if I had a little patience and worked on the soil for a year or two more, I had much better results.
I'd say the easiest way to avoid expensive mistakes where tress are planted in areas that can't support them was to start with a few seeds. If the seeds can make it, then the conditions are likely good enough for a seedling or two. But if the seeds can't make it, then quite often seedlings will die, too. At least that's how it's worked where I am.
5. re: water and food forests in low water environments. I have seen some amazing results with food forests, honestly. But from what I've seen, there are a lot of variables that can impact it significantly so it's really important not to compare your results to another set up that's in a different environment. Like, for example, even though that food forest Jordan project Lawton did was set in an area with similar heat to mine, and even lower rainfall, at the same time, he had a LOT of water invested and a big gray water system set up, from what I've read (it's been a while, but I believe I'm remembering correctly).
Most food forests that include non-native plants either have to be in an area with a fair amount of rain OR have an irrigation/gray water irrigation. Yes, you can improve soil, and improve it's ability to retain water, and make swales, and add mulch and fungus and such - but that still only does so much. It obviously can help make a more humid mini-ecosystem, can retain water better, and that's IS going to make a difference, too. But even with a big difference, you are not making a desert into a tropical paradise if it's not getting some extra water, and as you are sharing water with the folks there, you may want to work out how much that is for your planned trees.
6. Fruit trees - First thing that stood out to me in your fruit choices: water. There is a huge difference between 'water enough to live' and 'water enough to produce fruit.' The heat tolerant trees survive hot temperatures, but that doesn't always mean they produce fruit without you still having to water them a fair amount, at least living in an area where, as you mentioned, you are getting so little rainfall.
For the mediterranean trees - you'll still need to water them (for the almonds, water them a LOT). While trees like olive, pomegranate, and fig are obviously more heat and drought hardy, that is AFTER they are established...which takes around 3 years. Before that, they'll need a fair amount of water. If you cannot set up a system for that, or be there to do that, I'd honestly consider waiting to plant these trees until you are there, when you were originally planning to plant the citrus and such, and then maybe delay the citrus planting, etc... for a year or two after that.
Even once established, however, the olive, fig, and pomegranate (to name a few) are from an area that is not as hot as where you are. They tolerate heat well even in my area, which is hotter than yours, so they WILL do all right with your heat. But the thing is, that just means they don't shrivel up and die - they are still going to need more water in your area than they would normally because they need it to survive the hotter temperatures.
for mulberries - I don't know what varieties you are looking at, but there is a native mulberry, the western mulberry, that might be worth looking at. It requires both male and female, but it's more drought hearty and heat tolerant than some other mulberry varieties, I hear. Mine is only a year old, so I can't tell you about fruit production, yet, in the heat.
re: strawberries - they need an unbelievable amount of water for this area to produce fruit. I have had mine for 5 years now - first year and this one are the only times I have gotten them to bear fruit, and I have to water them constantly to make this happen. I am not keeping mine alive after this year and going to different ground cover, as they just struggle too much with our heat.
One important thing to remember re: mulch - it not only impacts how much water stays in the ground, it impacts how much water reaches the ground. If you are in a low rainfall area, deep layers of organic mulch can absorb most of the rainfall so that little to none of it reaches the ground and the plants in that area will require irrigation or some other form of water collection in order to survive. So in areas where you are growing native plants that you do NOT want to water, don't make the mistake of trying to mulch heavily. Just a little build up of organic material that is naturally falling is enough, like 1/2-1 inch, but not really more or it becomes a problem.
you didn't mention any climbing vines and I wondered if you had looked at those? They can be a great addition. They can be added to lattices or screens to help make wind breaks, and there are a significant number of legumes that are climbing and can be great for nitrogen fixing. Also some fun south american food producing vines that might be fun and might work in your area - can't recall names right now, I'm afraid.
re: pollinator attractors
just a reminder that I didn't think about for a few years myself - check out what your local pollinators are, so that you know the specifics, rather than just making plant choices based on generalized assumptions.
For example, in my area, bees are big pollinators, so I had lots of flowers that are supposed to attract bees. Except then I discovered that my local bees most like white and yellow flowers, which I had the least of, so I had to switch flowers at that point (it helped). Then I found out at the local bees were mostly burrowing bees, so providing areas of bare dirt, of certain compositions, ensured that bees were more likely to live in my property and more likely to pollinate my plants.
That's all that is coming to mind right off the bat.
Oh, except just as a fun aside, since you mentioned prickly pear - you can eat the flower petals as well as the fruits and the pads (once dethorned). Also, the inside of the cactus pads is just as useful for a burn treatment as aloe vera is.