Special Issue "Land and Farming System Dynamics on the Mediterranean Basin: From Global to Local Case Studies"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marta Debolini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
UMR INRA/UAPV EMMAH, Domaine St. Paul, Site Agroparc, 84914 Avignon, France
Interests: landscape agronomy; agricultural and farming system dynamics; land system science; ecosystem services; sustainable intensification; peri-urban agriculture
Dr. Maria Helena Guimaraes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
ICAAM - Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas, Universidade de Évora, Pólo da Mitra, Ap. 94, 7006-554 Évora, Portugal
Interests: environmental sciences; territorial planning; natural resource management; sustainability; systems thinking; transdisciplinary; co-construction of knowledge; participatory methodology and skilled facilitation
Dr. Elisa Marraccini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
UP INTERACT 2018.C102 UniLaSalle, Beauvais, France
Interests: landscape agronomy; farming system dynamics; cropping/farming system design; territorial/agricultural scenario analysis; multi-criteria sustainability assessment; peri-urban agriculture; territorial projects

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Mediterranean basin has a long history of agricultural production contributing to many other ecosystem services at the same time. Mediterranean farming systems are characterized by small scales, low intensity, and high natural value systems, e.g., silvopastoralism, mixed farming, or agroforestry. Today, these systems coexist with more intensive and input-demanding ones, and are mainly located on the coastal plain where other pressures coexist, such as strong urbanization and massive tourism. In this Special Issue, we invite papers in form of case studies that present and discuss current farming system dynamics in the Mediterranean, and their impacts on farming practices, species diversity, and local food systems. Moreover, we encourage papers aimed at identifying and discussing the main drivers of territorial dynamics in these areas at different spatial scales. Case studies involving stakeholder perception of changes and their future visions for scenario analysis are welcome. The link between identified environmental patterns and the capacity of the agricultural systems to contribute to the local food system of urban areas is also of interest.

Dr. Marta Debolini
Dr. Maria Helena Guimaraes
Dr. Elisa Marraccini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Mediterranean
  • farming systems
  • land systems
  • high nature value farmland
  • stakeholders
  • scenarios
  • changes
  • intensification
  • abandonment

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Understanding the Relationships between Extensive Livestock Systems, Land-Cover Changes, and CAP Support in Less-Favored Mediterranean Areas
Land 2020, 9(12), 518; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9120518 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 719
Abstract
Farm abandonment and over-extensification trends in less-favored livestock breeding areas in the Mediterranean have led to socio-environmental issues that are difficult to assess and address, due to the characteristics of these areas (e.g., poor data availability and reliability). In a study case that [...] Read more.
Farm abandonment and over-extensification trends in less-favored livestock breeding areas in the Mediterranean have led to socio-environmental issues that are difficult to assess and address, due to the characteristics of these areas (e.g., poor data availability and reliability). In a study case that presents many of the characteristics common to these areas, we combine qualitative and quantitative approaches to assess (i) the relationship between livestock production and land-cover change and (ii) the drivers of farmer decisions, concerning the types of livestock they breed. We show that the Common Agricultural Policy’s objective of open-landscape preservation cannot be achieved through the observed livestock management practices, with the most heavily CAP subsidy-dependent activities (e.g., suckler-cow breeding) having one of the weakest contributions to this objective. We also econometrically show that suckler-cow breeding is more likely to be adopted as a complementary or main activity in farms facing a labor scarcity and land abundance context. These results complement the literature and contribute to the discussion regarding the design of CAP support for less-favored Mediterranean areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Public Food Procurement as a Driving Force for Building Local and Agroecological Food Systems: Farmers’ Skepticism in Vega Baja del Jarama, Madrid (Spain)
Land 2020, 9(9), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9090317 - 08 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 797
Abstract
In the last decade, efforts to re-localize the food system have been gaining ground in a way that is intended to induce changes in the primary sector, thereby improving its conditions and sustainability. The European Union has identified food as one of the [...] Read more.
In the last decade, efforts to re-localize the food system have been gaining ground in a way that is intended to induce changes in the primary sector, thereby improving its conditions and sustainability. The European Union has identified food as one of the ten key sectors with outstanding potential for an ecological transition, and public procurement of (organic) food as an appropriate policy to foster agricultural development and support small farmers. In this study, we analyze changes in land use and farming dynamics in three municipalities close to the metropolitan area of Madrid (Spain). We also explore how stakeholders and farmers perceive the driving forces of these changes and the potential for public procurement in providing stability for farmers and more specifically, boosting the articulation and consolidation of the emerging agroecological sector in an up-to-date hostile peri-urban environment. Some urban policies and food strategies in nearby cities, such as Madrid, have introduced measures to promote sustainable food in public procurement. The procurement could drive 10% of the total food grown in the Comunidad de Madrid, with large variations in the impact on different food subsectors. However, if public procurement is to be organic, local production has no capacity to meet increases in demand, except for honey and oil. Food procurement would not lead to improved stability and increases in farmers’ incomes if public policies to boost ecological transition are not adopted in parallel. For farmers, economic viability takes precedence over other problems, and although public procurement has been mainstreamed as a valuable tool to support local agriculture, stakeholders do not have high expectations for it. The research shows that farm size and specialization have a strong influence on market orientation, and the agroecological farmers and social movements that support them are primed for innovation adoption and may act as catalysts for the process. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Quality Labels as Drivers of Peri-Urban Livestock Systems Resilience
Land 2020, 9(7), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070211 - 30 Jun 2020
Viewed by 749
Abstract
Livestock farming systems have an important role in the territorial systems of the Mediterranean, but in the last twenty years the sector has undergone serious changes with an important decrease in the number of farms. The purpose of this study is to show [...] Read more.
Livestock farming systems have an important role in the territorial systems of the Mediterranean, but in the last twenty years the sector has undergone serious changes with an important decrease in the number of farms. The purpose of this study is to show the contribution of a local food certification to the resilience of peri-urban livestock farming system and of its food supply chain at territorial level. The focus is on the “Carne Bovina di Pisa” project, a private label promoted by the local livestock producers’ association, with the purpose of preserving biodiversity and provide farmers with an opportunity to strengthen their local marketing power. The case study is the peri-urban area of Pisa (Tuscany, Italy), representative of the urbanized Mediterranean coastal plains with high urban pressure on agricultural land and increasing agricultural abandonment in the peri-urban area. The analysis is based on the qualitative analysis of interviews to stakeholders and the quantitative figures about the changes in livestock system. Results show that the label has positively sustained both the resilience of farming systems and the local food supply chains. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Mixed Approach for Multi-Scale Assessment of Land System Dynamics and Future Scenario Development on the Vaucluse Department (Southeastern France)
Land 2020, 9(6), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060180 - 01 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 612
Abstract
The Mediterranean Basin is at the same time a region of stark social and ecological contrasts and a global biodiversity hotspot, where complex local evolving land use and land cover patterns compose the region’s landscapes. In this context, we aimed for a specific [...] Read more.
The Mediterranean Basin is at the same time a region of stark social and ecological contrasts and a global biodiversity hotspot, where complex local evolving land use and land cover patterns compose the region’s landscapes. In this context, we aimed for a specific case study of the southeast of France, to assess land and farming systems’ dynamics, to identify their underlying drivers, and to propose possible shared future scenarios for local policies’ implementation. We based our analyses on a mixed approach and operated at downscale from territorial to local scale. First, we applied a quantitative statistical approach for the Vaucluse department. Then, we identified a subzone of the study area and pursued a local analysis through a qualitative and participative approach based on stakeholders’ knowledge. The study highlighted two main dynamics in land and farming systems that involve several changes. The first one is a process of land abandonment, strongly connected to a peri-urbanization process in some areas or to the loss of traditional farming systems in others. The second one is a process of specialization, at both territorial and farm levels, that corresponds to an intensification process and is linked to vineyards’ expansion dynamic with a landscape homogenizing effect. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Peri-Urban Organic Agriculture and Short Food Supply Chains as Drivers for Strengthening City/Region Food Systems—Two Case Studies in Andalucía, Spain
Land 2020, 9(6), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060177 - 01 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1407
Abstract
Discussions on food security in the Global North have raised questions about the capacity of peri-urban organic agriculture to provide sufficient healthy food for the urban market. Dealing with food security requires more attention to how to protect peri-urban organic farming systems from [...] Read more.
Discussions on food security in the Global North have raised questions about the capacity of peri-urban organic agriculture to provide sufficient healthy food for the urban market. Dealing with food security requires more attention to how to protect peri-urban organic farming systems from urban pressures while strengthening the sustainability of local food systems. Given that short food supply chains (SFSCs) have been proven to be effective at reconnecting people with food production, this study focuses on identifying the barriers that hinder their development and the opportunities derived from the comparative advantage provided by their urban proximity. This study is based on documentary and empirical research addressing food supply chain characteristics in the organic sector. This study is focused on Mediterranean peri-urban agriculture, where, historically, there have been close relationships between the city and the countryside. These relationships are based on the fact that many cities are traditionally located next to areas of high agricultural activity, where a wide variety of vegetables is produced almost continuously due to the relatively mild winter climate. This study deals with two medium-sized metropolitan areas in Andalucía in the south of the Iberian Peninsula—the coastal city of Málaga, which is of a tourist-residential nature, and the inland urban agglomeration of Granada. Our research shows, when compared with other studies, that the local organic food sector seems to have great potential to find innovative solutions based on a collective approach, local embeddedness, and collective knowledge and by prioritizing horizontal and sustainable processes at the local/regional scale. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Who Remains When Professional Farmers Give up? Some Insights on Hobby Farming in an Olive Groves-Oriented Terraced Mediterranean Area
Land 2020, 9(5), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050168 - 22 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1413
Abstract
Many land use systems in Mediterranean sloping areas risk abandonment because of nonprofitability, while their hydro-geological stability depends on an appropriate management. However, who are the land managers? What are their practices? Our research on the traditional olive groves of the Monte Pisano [...] Read more.
Many land use systems in Mediterranean sloping areas risk abandonment because of nonprofitability, while their hydro-geological stability depends on an appropriate management. However, who are the land managers? What are their practices? Our research on the traditional olive groves of the Monte Pisano (Tuscany, Italy) reveals for the first time the quantitatively important role of hobby farmers as land managers in the area. We used a three-step-method: first, a database was constructed using several data sources to identify and map the population of olive growers; then, 35 semi-structured interviews were conducted, and finally, the data were analyzed to highlight the contribution of olive growers to the land management, along with their motivations and constraints. Our results found that hobby farmers constitute about 90% of all land managers in the study area and manage more than half of the agricultural land. They are a very uneven group, and there are no clear categories detectable by analyzing sociodemographic factors, practices and farm characteristics. They are the “same but different”, not following any market rules, as they are not profit-oriented. Their farming practices are quite homogeneous and mainly in-line with professional farming practices of that area, oriented versus a minimum input management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Montado/Dehesa Cow-Calf Production Systems in Portugal and Spain: An Economic and Resources’ Use Approach
Land 2020, 9(5), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050148 - 12 May 2020
Viewed by 970
Abstract
The Montado in Portugal and Dehesa in Spain is a unique agro-silvo-pastoral system designed to overcome food needs in a scarce resource’s environment. The system competitiveness is not clear and it is now under severe threats, caused by extensification or abandonment of less [...] Read more.
The Montado in Portugal and Dehesa in Spain is a unique agro-silvo-pastoral system designed to overcome food needs in a scarce resource’s environment. The system competitiveness is not clear and it is now under severe threats, caused by extensification or abandonment of less fertile areas and by intensification in more fertile ones. The aim of the undertaken research is to compare the cow-calf production within these systems in Portugal and Spain, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and the main drivers of their evolution, and to compare these systems with other European countries’ systems, ranking their competitiveness and efficiency among other systems in the EU. The research indicates that Montado/Dehesa farms systems are dependent on the type of farming system, its context and management, i.e., on the decision and its context; so, in a context of Mediterranean land system changes, the future of the Montado/Dehesa ecosystem depends on the ability of the cow-calf production systems to face the future and to perceive the modifications needed to overcome new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Unveiling Contrasting Preferred Trajectories of Local Development in Southeast Portugal
Land 2020, 9(3), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030087 - 17 Mar 2020
Viewed by 707
Abstract
Mediterranean land systems are amongst the most susceptible to global change, in part due to the region’s vulnerability to climate change and misfit within a high production demanding political and societal setting. The impact of global drivers at a local scale (i.e., the [...] Read more.
Mediterranean land systems are amongst the most susceptible to global change, in part due to the region’s vulnerability to climate change and misfit within a high production demanding political and societal setting. The impact of global drivers at a local scale (i.e., the possible trajectories of change of a territory) are context-dependent, and to some extent dependent on how local actors perceive them and act upon them. In this study, we focused on southeast Portugal and conducted 22 interviews and 1 collective workshop to understand how different actors across the territory anticipate the development of the region and its land systems. From our results, we get a picture of a depopulated territory, constrained by ill-adjusted policies to its harsh conditions, including little water availability and continuous depopulation. We found contrasting preferred trajectories of development for the territory. On one hand, there is a preference for prioritizing traditional land systems, usually rainfed and multifunctional. Contrasting, a need for water reservoirs that would increase water availability and allow for profitable agricultural activities and thus fixate population is recognized. The different perspectives fit with a wider debate on the role of agriculture, intensification and ecosystem services under an increasingly arid Mediterranean. The next challenge is to integrate technical expertise and knowledge with local needs and initiatives, to fit in a broader scale strategic plan. We identify a lack of technical support regarding soil health. Poor soil, from the perspective of several stakeholders, is a characteristic of the region. Knowledge dissemination is urgent so that farmers can proactively improve soil health and benefit from its capacity to increase production and retain water. We urge a higher effort from the scientific community focusing on marginal areas, supporting knowledge dissemination and analysis of the impacts of different trajectories of development. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Actors, Scales and Spaces Dynamics Linked to Groundwater Resources use for Agriculture Production in Haouaria Plain, Tunisia. A Territory Game Approach
Land 2020, 9(3), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030074 - 05 Mar 2020
Viewed by 852
Abstract
Groundwater resources became a recognized enabler of important rural and socio-economic development in Mediterranean countries. However, the development of this groundwater economy is currently associated with an increased pressure on the available resource and negative implications on the socio-ecological system. Managing complex socio-ecological [...] Read more.
Groundwater resources became a recognized enabler of important rural and socio-economic development in Mediterranean countries. However, the development of this groundwater economy is currently associated with an increased pressure on the available resource and negative implications on the socio-ecological system. Managing complex socio-ecological systems, such as those that occur in water resource management, is a multi-actor, multi-scale and dynamic decision-making process. This study aims to build a collective learning and collaborative construction tool through the territory game method. It was implemented in the Haouaria Plain, in Northern Tunisia, where farmers are currently dependent upon groundwater use for their livelihood and food security. After the diagnosis of the territorial issues, the drivers of change and a common spatial representation of the future trend of the territory, we dive into the dimensions that hinder or facilitate the implementation of scenarios and the pathways of actions. Thereafter, we analyzed these dimensions together again and reflect on the interactions among actors at different levels to transform the local territory. From the perspective of evolution scenarios for the Haouaria plain, the participants indicated the conditions that hinder or facilitate their implementation and they proposed twenty-three possible actions to be carried out in order to achieve the desired trends. They indicated how these propositions can be achieved, by whom, and where. The local stakeholders coordinate actors, activities and spaces on their territory. Spaces such as El Garâa basin, littoral forest or food processing companies are at stake to develop an integrated response to territorial issues. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Assessing Ecosystem Services Supplied by Agroecosystems in Mediterranean Europe: A Literature Review
Land 2020, 9(8), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080245 - 27 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1136
Abstract
Agricultural landscapes in the Mediterranean region may be considered as social-ecological systems that are important for biodiversity conservation whilst contributing to a wide range of ecosystem services. This literature review aims to identify the current state and biases of ecosystem service assessment in [...] Read more.
Agricultural landscapes in the Mediterranean region may be considered as social-ecological systems that are important for biodiversity conservation whilst contributing to a wide range of ecosystem services. This literature review aims to identify the current state and biases of ecosystem service assessment in agroecosystems within the Mediterranean region, evaluate pressures impacting on agroecosystems and their services, and practices that promote ecosystem service synergies in Mediterranean agroecosystems. A total of 41 papers were selected for analysis from a set of 573 potentially relevant papers. Most of the selected papers focused on supporting, regulating and provisioning services, and mostly assessed ecosystem structure or services in the European Mediterranean context. Literature about benefits and values ascribed to by communities and stakeholders remain limited. Results presented here support the notion of multifunctional Mediterranean agroecosystems and multiple synergies were recorded in this review. Publications dealing with pressures that related to agricultural practices and demographic changes were in the majority and impact on different cropping systems. This review highlights the need to carry out integrated ecosystem service assessments that consider the multiple benefits derived from agroecosystems and which may be used to identify management practices that lead to the improvement of ecosystem services capacities and flows. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Preserving Farmland on the Urban Fringe: A Literature Review on Land Policies in Developed Countries
Land 2020, 9(7), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070223 - 09 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 879
Abstract
This paper reviews the recent literature dealing with farmland protection (FP) policies in developed countries from a planning perspective, with a specific focus on the Mediterranean region. It provides coverage of French language papers that may have been omitted in previous reviews. While [...] Read more.
This paper reviews the recent literature dealing with farmland protection (FP) policies in developed countries from a planning perspective, with a specific focus on the Mediterranean region. It provides coverage of French language papers that may have been omitted in previous reviews. While the Mediterranean is often pointed out as a region with acute challenges related to food security and a lack of effective planning policies, the literature underlines that issues related to FP policies are similar across the world. Hence, this review may bring valuable insights for more sustainable management of farmland on the urban fringe. It maps several interesting areas of research concerning the often implicit and disparate rationales of FP policies as well as the barriers and potential avenues for improvement for FP. It highlights that FP cannot rely merely on transferring policy tools that have proven successful elsewhere. It also reveals that land policies do not always take into account the specific needs of farming systems, as they often focus on land rather than on agriculture. Further research is thus needed to reveal the interaction over time between the use of certain FP tools and the unique local features of urban fringe agriculture. This review may be of interest to students and scholars, but also to practitioners, policy makers and local groups looking for innovative, more flexible or locally suited farmland protection programs. Full article
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