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Sustainability 2016, 8(1), 32; doi:10.3390/su8010032

A Fifty-Year Sustainability Assessment of Italian Agro-Forest Districts

1
Department of Agriculture, Forest, Nature and Energy (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis snc, Viterbo I-01100, Italy
2
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Perugia, Via G. Duranti, 93, Perugia I-06125, Italy
3
Department of Architecture and Project, La Sapienza University of Rome, Via Flaminia 359, Rome I-00196, Italy
4
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Via della Navicella 2–4, Rome I-00184, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Iain Gordon
Received: 14 November 2015 / Revised: 24 December 2015 / Accepted: 25 December 2015 / Published: 30 December 2015
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Abstract

As cropland management and land use shifted towards more intensive practices, global land degradation increased drastically. Understanding relationships between ecological and socioeconomic drivers of soil and landscape degradation within these landscapes in economically dynamic contexts such as the Mediterranean region, requires multi-target and multi-scalar approaches covering long-term periods. This study provides an original approach for identifying desertification risk drivers and sustainable land management strategies within Italian agro-forest districts. An Environmental Sensitivity Area (ESA) approach, based on four thematic indicators (climate, soil, vegetation and land-use) and a composite index of desertification risk (ESAI), was used to evaluate changes in soil vulnerability and landscape degradation between the years 1960 and 2010. A multivariate model was developed to identify the most relevant drivers causing changes in land susceptibility at the district scale. Larger districts, and those with a higher proportion of their total surface area classified as agro-forest, had a significantly lower increase in land susceptibility to degradation during the 50 years when compared with the remaining districts. We conclude that preserving economic viability and ecological connectivity of traditional, extensive agricultural systems is a key measure to mitigate the desertification risk in the Mediterranean region. View Full-Text
Keywords: vulnerability; soil degradation; environmental indicators; desertification; Italy vulnerability; soil degradation; environmental indicators; desertification; Italy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Recanatesi, F.; Clemente, M.; Grigoriadis, E.; Ranalli, F.; Zitti, M.; Salvati, L. A Fifty-Year Sustainability Assessment of Italian Agro-Forest Districts. Sustainability 2016, 8, 32.

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