Special Issue "Land Abandonment: Positive and Negative Effects on Soil Quality, Ecosystem Services, and Environmental Functioning"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 18 October 2022 | Viewed by 5521

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Ilan Stavi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The Dead-Sea and Arava Science Center, Tamar Regional Council, Yotvata 88820, Israel
Interests: ecohydrology; food security; geo-ecology; land use change; surface process
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Land abandonment is widespread around the world and encompasses different land-uses, such as orchards, croplands, and rangelands. Often, land abandonment stems from on-site degradation processes, such as extreme compaction, soil erosion, soil organic carbon depletion, or salinization/sodification. Such processes are likely to reduce the primary productivity of desired plant species or crops, or cause the succession or invasion of undesired vegetation species. Regardless, land abandonment may be related to changes in socio-economic and cultural preferences, and, specifically, to urbanization and related modifications in the labor market. An abundance of evidence indicates that land abandonment halts soil erosion and salinization, triggering the buildup of soil horizons and subsequently improving soil functioning and ecosystem health. At the same time, other evidence shows that land abandonment accelerates land degradation processes. The objective of this Special Issue is to demonstrate the complexity of the topic of land abandonment while highlighting the agro-environmental challenges and opportunities as well as related policy and socio-economic aspects.

Prof. Dr. Ilan Stavi
Dr. Manuel Pulido Fernández
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • agricultural policy
  • ecosystem services
  • hydrological connectivity
  • plant species richness and diversity
  • rural socio-economy
  • secondary succession
  • soil buildup
  • soil erosion
  • surface roughness
  • vegetation cover.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Management Policy of Farmers’ Cultivated Land Abandonment Behavior Based on Evolutionary Game and Simulation Analysis
Land 2022, 11(3), 336; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11030336 - 24 Feb 2022
Viewed by 535
Abstract
Agricultural land abandonment is a complex, multidimensional, and nonlinear global phenomenon driven by multiple factors and has contrasting impacts on agrobiodiversity, the environment, and society. Appropriate management strategies on abandoned cultivated land are helpful in maintaining food and ecological security. However, there are [...] Read more.
Agricultural land abandonment is a complex, multidimensional, and nonlinear global phenomenon driven by multiple factors and has contrasting impacts on agrobiodiversity, the environment, and society. Appropriate management strategies on abandoned cultivated land are helpful in maintaining food and ecological security. However, there are few studies on the management of cultivated land abandonment from the perspective of stakeholders. Based on the stakeholder perspective and focusing on the two main modes of farmland abandonment management, namely, “transfer-oriented management” and “condition-improved management”, this study constructs two evolutionary game models to analyze the interest conflicts, decision-making behaviors and interest game foci of different subjects in the two management modes. Simulation analysis is conducted to verify the equilibrium results of the evolutionary game to find the key problems in abandonment management and put forward corresponding management policies. This study reveals the internal mechanism of abandonment management, thus providing a theoretical basis for the classified management of abandoned cultivated land. Full article
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Article
Land Use Demands for the CLUE-S Spatiotemporal Model in an Agroforestry Perspective
Land 2021, 10(10), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101097 - 16 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 960
Abstract
Rural landscape evolution models are used as tools for the analysis of the causes and impact of land use changes on landscapes. The CLUE-S (the Conversion of Land Use and its Effects at Small regional extent) model was developed to simulate the changes [...] Read more.
Rural landscape evolution models are used as tools for the analysis of the causes and impact of land use changes on landscapes. The CLUE-S (the Conversion of Land Use and its Effects at Small regional extent) model was developed to simulate the changes in current land use, by using quantitative relationships between land uses and driving factors combined with a dynamic modeling of land use competition. One of the modules that build the “CLUE-S” is the non-spatial subset of the model that calculates the temporal evolution of the land use/cover under several socio-economic scenarios. The purpose of this research was to estimate the demands of land use in the area of Mouzaki, Thessaly plain, Greece with the ultimate goal of using them in the non-spatial module of the CLUE-S to predict the evolution of land uses in year 2040. These estimations are the quantitative prediction of the spatial change for all land use types at the aggregate level. Three models of forecasting the future land cover in the area were simulated, in order to obtain a clear view of the different land uses in the future. We distinguished three model-scenarios for calculating the demand-forecasts: (a) business as usual (BAU) scenario, that deals with a linear projection of the current land use demands, (b) rapid economic development (RED) scenario, and (c) ecological land protection (ELP) scenario. In the BAU scenario the land use demands for the year 2040 were calculated using linear interpolation utilizing historical data from 1960 to 2020. In the RED scenario, the demands were calculated by maximizing the economic benefit of land uses, and in the ELP scenario the demands were calculated by maximizing the environmental benefit of land uses. Furthermore, a multi-criteria analysis was performed to find the trade-offs between economic benefit maximization and environmental benefit optimization. It was found that the agricultural lands reach their maximum area under the RED scenario, while reaching their lower bound for the ELP scenario. The same goes for agroforestry systems. The grasslands reach their lower bound under the ELP scenario, while they achieve a higher value under the RED scenario. Concerning the silvopastoral woodlands, although an increase is foreseen under the BAU scenario, it appears that they reach their lower bound in the other two scenarios, RED and ELP. Forests receive intermediate values and cover a larger area under the ELP scenario compared with the RED scenario. The expected forest cover under the BAU scenario is higher. Moreover, sparse and dense shrublands receive their lower bound for both optimization scenarios, while the settlements reach the upper bound for the RED scenario and the lower one under the ELP scenario. Full article
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Article
Could Land Abandonment with Human Intervention Benefit Cropland Restoration? From the Perspective of Soil Microbiota
Land 2021, 10(10), 1049; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101049 - 06 Oct 2021
Viewed by 588
Abstract
Although agricultural land abandonment (LA) is accompanied by land degradation, it could be considered a kind of self-rehabilitation. Studies have shown that long-term LA has profound ecological and environmental benefits, whereas few studies have compared LA with human intervention (HI), which involves planting [...] Read more.
Although agricultural land abandonment (LA) is accompanied by land degradation, it could be considered a kind of self-rehabilitation. Studies have shown that long-term LA has profound ecological and environmental benefits, whereas few studies have compared LA with human intervention (HI), which involves planting and fertilization in agroecosystem restoration. Here, we established four different scenarios based on local livestock husbandry, including LA without HI, LA with slight human intervention (HIS), medium human intervention (HIM), and intensive human intervention (HII). LA experiments were conducted for 3 years and repeatedly sampled three times. The soil bacterial and fungal communities were determined to present the ecological impacts. In this study, LA and HIS could save soil inorganic carbon and total calcium (Ca) contents and benefit soil mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria. LA and HIM benefited some microbial communities associated with complicated organic compounds. Human interference methods did not significantly increase soil nutrients after 3 years of farmland abandonment. However, indigenous vegetation increased the risk of plant diseases based on soil microbial communities. Forage grass may control the risk, and HIS was a cost-effective scenario in our study. Moreover, we should maintain a cautious attitude toward HII to prevent excessive intervention. Full article
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Article
Estimation of Determinants of Farmland Abandonment and Its Data Problems
Land 2021, 10(6), 596; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060596 - 04 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1059
Abstract
Abandoned farmland is particularly problematic in developed countries where agriculture has a comparative disadvantage in terms of effective use of land resources invested over time. While many studies have estimated the causes of these problems, few have discussed in detail the impact of [...] Read more.
Abandoned farmland is particularly problematic in developed countries where agriculture has a comparative disadvantage in terms of effective use of land resources invested over time. While many studies have estimated the causes of these problems, few have discussed in detail the impact of data characteristics and accuracy on the estimation results. In this study, issues related to the underlying data and the estimation of the determinants of farmland abandonment were examined. Most previous studies on farmland abandonment in Japan have used census data as the basis of their analyses. However, census data are recorded subjectively by farmers. To address this, surveys of abandoned farmland are being conducted by a third party, and the results are compiled into a geographic information system (GIS) database. Two types of datasets (subjective census data and objective GIS data) were examined for their estimation performance. Although the two sets of data are correlated, there are considerable differences between them. Subjective variables are compatible with subjective data, and objective variables are compatible with objective data (meaning that parameters are easily identified). Original data for analysis, such as policy variables, are compatible with objective data. In policy evaluation research, attention should be paid to objective data collection. Full article
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Article
Comparing Hydric Erosion Soil Loss Models in Rainy Mountainous and Dry Flat Regions in Portugal
Land 2021, 10(6), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060554 - 25 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 728
Abstract
Soil erosion is a severe and complex issue in the agriculture area. The main objective of this study was to assess the soil loss in two regions, testing different methodologies and combining different factors of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) based [...] Read more.
Soil erosion is a severe and complex issue in the agriculture area. The main objective of this study was to assess the soil loss in two regions, testing different methodologies and combining different factors of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) based on Geographical Information Systems (GIS). To provide the methodologies to other users, a GIS open-source application was developed. The RUSLE equation was applied with the variation of some factors that compose it, namely the slope length and slope steepness (LS) factor and practices factor (P), but also with the use of different sources of information. Eight different erosion models (M1 to M8) were applied to the two regions with different ecological conditions: Montalegre (rainy-mountainous) and Alentejo (dry-flat), both in Portugal, to compare them and to evaluate the soil loss for 3 potential erosion levels: 0–25, 25–50 and >50 ton/ha·year. Regarding the methodologies, in both regions the behavior is similar, indicating that the M5 and M6 methodologies can be more conservative than the others (M1, M2, M3, M4 and M8), which present very consistent values in all classes of soil loss and for both regions. All methodologies were implemented in a GIS application, which is free and available under QGIS software. Full article
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Article
Can Land Consolidation Reduce the Soil Erosion of Agricultural Land in Hilly Areas? Evidence from Lishui District, Nanjing City
Land 2021, 10(5), 502; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050502 - 08 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 667
Abstract
The hilly areas of China have experienced soil erosion and are also typical land consolidation (LC) regions. Using the RUSLE model and the multiple regression model, this study evaluated the soil erosion of agricultural land and assessed the effects of LC on soil [...] Read more.
The hilly areas of China have experienced soil erosion and are also typical land consolidation (LC) regions. Using the RUSLE model and the multiple regression model, this study evaluated the soil erosion of agricultural land and assessed the effects of LC on soil erosion in Lishui District, a typical district in the Ning-Zhen-Yang hilly area. The soil erosion of agricultural land ranged from 0 to 385.77 t·ha−1·yr−1 with spatial heterogeneity due to the topography, land cover, and vegetation cover. Overall, carrying out LC reduced soil erosion due to the construction of protection forests, farmland shelterbelts, and different kinds of land engineering. Furthermore, the different types of LC had different impacts on soil erosion, where farmland consolidation resulted in more serious soil erosion than land development. Nevertheless, the potential risks brought by LC to soil erosion reduction could not be overlooked, and more attention should be paid to ecological environment protection during the process of LC. This study presents findings regarding the positive impacts and potential risks of LC for soil erosion reduction in agricultural land in hilly areas. Full article
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