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Desertification Risk and Rural Development in Southern Europe: Permanent Assessment and Implications for Sustainable Land Management and Mitigation Policies

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Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics Department, University of Basilicata, Viale dell’Ateneo Lucano, I-85100 Potenza, Italy
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Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences (DAFNE), Tuscia University, Via San Camillo de Lellis, I-01100 Viterbo, Italy
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Department of Political Science, Third University of Rome, Via G. Chiabrera 199, I-00145 Rome, Italy
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Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Viale S. Margherita 80, I-52100 Arezzo, Italy
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2019, 8(12), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8120191
Received: 1 November 2019 / Revised: 3 December 2019 / Accepted: 6 December 2019 / Published: 11 December 2019
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification defines ‘land degradation’ as a reduction or loss of the biological and economic productivity resulting from land-use mismanagement, or a combination of processes, such as soil erosion, deterioration of soil properties, and loss of natural vegetation and biodiversity. Land degradation is hence an interactive process involving multiple factors, among which climate, land-use, economic dynamics and socio-demographic forces play a key role. Especially in the Mediterranean basin, joint biophysical and socioeconomic factors shape the intrinsic level of vulnerability of both natural and agricultural land to degradation. The interplay between biophysical and socioeconomic factors may become extremely complex over time and space, resulting in specific patterns of landscape deterioration. This paper summarizes theoretical expectations and empirical knowledge in the field of soil and landscape degradation in Mediterranean Europe, evidencing the intimate relationship between agriculture and socio-demographic factors of growth (or decline) of rural areas. Understanding spatio-temporal trends of each factor underlying land degradation and the related background context is a key tool in the assessment of the spatial distribution of vulnerable and critical land to degradation. Empirical results of a permanent monitoring of land degradation contributes to delineate more effective conservation policies through identification of target areas requiring specific actions for biodiversity and landscape protection. With increasing human pressure on rural environments, a diachronic evaluation of patterns and processes of land degradation reveals particularly appropriate in a both positive and normative perspective, prefiguring new actions for soil conservation and landscape valorization under global change. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil quality; drought; human pressure; rural sociology; Mediterranean region soil quality; drought; human pressure; rural sociology; Mediterranean region
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Salvia, R.; Egidi, G.; Vinci, S.; Salvati, L. Desertification Risk and Rural Development in Southern Europe: Permanent Assessment and Implications for Sustainable Land Management and Mitigation Policies. Land 2019, 8, 191.

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