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Article

Unraveling Misunderstandings about Desertification: The Paradoxical Case of the Tabernas-Sorbas Basin in Southeast Spain

1
Instituto Multidisciplinar para el Estudio del Medio “Ramón Margalef”, Universidad de Alicante, Carretera de San Vicente del Raspeig s/n, 03690 San Vicente del Raspeig, Spain
2
Departamento de Ecología, Universidad de Alicante, Carretera de San Vicente del Raspeig s/n, 03690 San Vicente del Raspeig, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2020, 9(8), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080269
Received: 9 July 2020 / Revised: 7 August 2020 / Accepted: 9 August 2020 / Published: 11 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landscape Transformation and Changes in Land Use Intensity)
From its origins, the concept of desertification has been controversial. The prevailing confusion between two desertification visions, one that considers it as the expansion of deserts and another that emphasizes its anthropogenic component, has been transferred to society. Here we illustrate misunderstandings about desertification using a very illustrative case from the Tabernas-Sorbas Basin (Almeria, Spain), where striking badlands that are often used as an image of desertification coexist with an intensive olive agriculture that is irreversibly deteriorating the only oasis in continental Europe (Los Molinos spring). The olive tree is a traditional Mediterranean dryland crop and until the 1950s only about 200 ha were irrigated in this area. However, the profitability of the crop has caused irrigation to expand to 4400 ha in the last two decades. The process of intensification has been reinforced giving way to super-intensive irrigation, which involves going from 210 to 1550 trees/ha, which in a few years already occupies more than 1500 ha. The effects on the water balance of the aquifer feeding these crops have been severe, and the flow of the Los Molinos spring has gone from more than 40 L/s for the period 1970–2000 to the current 7.28 L/s. Unraveling the mechanisms of land degradation and its main drivers are the first step to propose management actions to achieve a more sustainable use of resources and to combat desertification. View Full-Text
Keywords: desertification; groundwater; irrigation; olive groves; southern Europe desertification; groundwater; irrigation; olive groves; southern Europe
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MDPI and ACS Style

Martínez-Valderrama, J.; Guirado, E.; Maestre, F.T. Unraveling Misunderstandings about Desertification: The Paradoxical Case of the Tabernas-Sorbas Basin in Southeast Spain. Land 2020, 9, 269. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080269

AMA Style

Martínez-Valderrama J, Guirado E, Maestre FT. Unraveling Misunderstandings about Desertification: The Paradoxical Case of the Tabernas-Sorbas Basin in Southeast Spain. Land. 2020; 9(8):269. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080269

Chicago/Turabian Style

Martínez-Valderrama, Jaime, Emilio Guirado, and Fernando T. Maestre 2020. "Unraveling Misunderstandings about Desertification: The Paradoxical Case of the Tabernas-Sorbas Basin in Southeast Spain" Land 9, no. 8: 269. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080269

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