Special Issue "Terraced Landscapes and Hydrological-Geological Hazards"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology and Hydrogeology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Eng. Federico Preti
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI), University of Florence, 50145 Firenze, Italy
Interests: watershed management, soil and water bioengineering, environmental hydraulics
Dr. Eng. Giulio Castelli
Website
Guest Editor
Water Harvesting Lab - Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI), University of Florence, 50145 Firenze, Italy
Interests: water harvesting, soil and water conservation, sustainable land management, ecosystem services, hydrological modelling, remote sensing, soil-water-vegetation-atmosphere feedbacks
Dr. Alessandro Errico
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI), University of Florence, 50145 Firenze, Italy
Interests: hydrology and geotechnics of agricultural terraces, riparian vegetation, forest hydrology, soil and water bioengineering

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the last few years, terraced landscapes have been receiving renovated interest all over the world (e.g., dry-stone walls named UNESCO heritage in November 2018). Terracing was recognized as a fundamental component of agricultural systems, both for its cultural value as well as for its importance in guaranteeing food production in unfavorable environments. Consequently, the scientific community has started to investigate the environmental effects related to terracing. In this framework, hydrological and hydrogeological processes occurring in terraced landscapes are of the utmost interest for their implications related to land and water management in different areas of the world.

The latest studies showed that terracing represents a radical alteration of pre-existing terrain settings, thus altering water infiltration and runoff generation processes, and ultimately influencing the entire water cycle from the single terrace up to the slope, catchment, and landscape scales. In some of the agricultural areas of the world, and especially where high slopes are present and/or land degradation issues occur, sound terracing implementation and terraced landscape restoration can contribute to reducing hydrological and hydrogeological hazards, as well as soil erosion and landsliding. This latter effect can be relevant both at the local scale, reducing hazard to agricultural areas, and at a catchment scale, reducing hazards to downstream population and infrastructures. On the other hand, deteriorating terraced systems, as well as poorly managed or designed terraces, may increase these hazards, even enhancing the trigger of degradation phenomena. A specific research focus on terrace deterioration mechanisms (such as collapse and bulging) and on their consequences is also needed.

Recent developments in scientific and engineering research techniques, such as remote sensing, offer the possibility of increasing knowledge of the terracing–hydrogeological hazard relationship, including, for instance: Advanced and detailed geomorphological analysis, hydraulic, geotechnical, and hydrological modeling.

The aim of the present Special Issue is to gather studies related to the relationship between terraced landscapes and hydrogeological hazards. We encourage the submission of research papers and reviews dealing with hydrological–geological risk mitigation given by terraced landscapes, with the potential hazards induced by degraded and/or abandoned terracing, and with effective terraces management strategies.

Contributions from African, South East-Asian, and Latin American countries, and from experiences of recently developed terracing projects are highly welcome for the Special Issue.

Key issues that can be addressed include but are not limited to:

  • Hydrological, geohydrological, and hydraulic analysis of terraced catchments, hillslopes or plots, including both experimental data and modeling approaches;
  • Drainage design and runoff collection methods at the scale of terraced landscapes, including both artificial and natural drainage networks;
  • Management and mismanagement case studies of terraced landscapes;
  • Analysis and/or modeling of the main terraces collapse mechanisms, including bulging;
  • Vegetation effects during cultivation or after short- and long-term abandonment.

Prof. Dr. Federico Preti
Dr. Giulio Castelli
Dr. Alessandro Errico
Guest Editor

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. Water 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

  • Terraced landscapes
  • Agricultural terraces
  • Hydrological hazards
  • Geological hazards
  • Soil and water conservation erosion
  • Shallow landslides
  • Hydrological and hydraulic modeling
  • Terraces collapse
  • Terraces bulging
  • Sustainable land management
  • Ecosystem services
  • Landscape heritage

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
System Dynamics Applied to Terraced Agroecosystems: The Case Study of Assaragh (Anti-Atlas Mountains, Morocco)
Water 2020, 12(6), 1693; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061693 - 13 Jun 2020
Abstract
Terraced agroecosystems (TAS)—apart from being an important cultural heritage element—are considered vital for sustainable water resource management and climate change adaptation measures. However, this traditional form of agriculture, with direct implications in food security at a local scale, has been suffering from abandonment [...] Read more.
Terraced agroecosystems (TAS)—apart from being an important cultural heritage element—are considered vital for sustainable water resource management and climate change adaptation measures. However, this traditional form of agriculture, with direct implications in food security at a local scale, has been suffering from abandonment or degradation worldwide. In light of this, the need to fully comprehend the complex linkage of their abandonment with different driving forces is essential. The identification of these dynamics makes possible an appropriate intervention with local initiatives and policies on a larger scale. Therefore, the main aim of this paper is to introduce a comprehensive multidisciplinary framework that maps the dynamics of the investigated TAS’s abandonment, by defining cause–effect relationships on a hydrogeological, ecological and social level, through tools from System Dynamics studies. This methodology is implemented in the case of Assaragh TAS, a traditional oasis agroecosystem in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas, characterized by data scarcity. Through field studies, interviews, questionnaires and freely accessible databases, the TAS’s abandonment, leading to a loss in agrobiodiversity, is linked to social rather than climatic drives. Additionally, measures that can counteract the phenomenon and strengthen the awareness of the risks associated with climate change and food security are proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Terraced Landscapes and Hydrological-Geological Hazards)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Parametric Terracing as Optimization of Controlled Slope Intervention
Water 2020, 12(3), 634; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030634 - 26 Feb 2020
Abstract
With the introduction of mechanization in agriculture, the area of terraced slopes has increased. However, in most cases, the planning of terracing in practice remains experience-based, which is no longer effective from an agricultural, geological, and hydrological point of view. The usual method [...] Read more.
With the introduction of mechanization in agriculture, the area of terraced slopes has increased. However, in most cases, the planning of terracing in practice remains experience-based, which is no longer effective from an agricultural, geological, and hydrological point of view. The usual method of building terraces, especially terraces with earth risers, is therefore outdated, and a new method must be found for planning and building terraced areas. In addition to geographical information system (GIS) tools, parametric design tools for planning terraced landscapes are now available. Based on the design approaches for a selected plot in the Gorizia Hills in Slovenia, where we used a trial-and-error method, we improved previous results by defining a model using a computer algorithm that generates a terraced landscape on a selected slope depending on various input parameters such as the height of the terrace slope, the inclination of the terrace slope, the width of the terrace platform, and the number of terraces. For the definition of the algorithm we used the visual program tool Grasshopper. By changing the values of the input data parameters, the algorithm was able to present combinatorial simulations through a variety of different solutions with all the corresponding statistics. With such results it is much easier to make a conscious decision on which combination of parameters is optimal to prevent landslides, plan adequate drainage, and control soil movements when building terraces. The controlled slope intervention is further optimized by the introduction of a usage index (Tx), defined as the quotient of the sum of all flat areas (terrace platforms) and the total area of the plot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Terraced Landscapes and Hydrological-Geological Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Terraced Landscapes on Portofino Promontory (Italy): Identification, Geo-Hydrological Hazard and Management
Water 2020, 12(2), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020435 - 06 Feb 2020
Abstract
Stone wall terraces are a largely investigated topic in research for both their landscape and cultural/historical value. Terraces are anthropogenic landforms that interact with natural processes and need permanent maintenance to preserve their functionality. In the Mediterranean region, ground effects related to intense [...] Read more.
Stone wall terraces are a largely investigated topic in research for both their landscape and cultural/historical value. Terraces are anthropogenic landforms that interact with natural processes and need permanent maintenance to preserve their functionality. In the Mediterranean region, ground effects related to intense rain events often involve terraced slopes that, in some situations, are directly sourced areas of debris/mud flow. Starting from the 1950s, the changing socio-economic conditions caused the abandonment of large portions of rural areas. Nowadays, at the catchment scale, it is frequently difficult recognizing stone wall terraces because of their abandonment and the uncontrolled re-vegetation. This research faces the issue of identifying terraces in the Monte di Portofino promontory, which is internationally famous for its high-value natural and landscape involving broad anthropogenic modifications dating back to the Middle Ages. A remote sensing application, with LIDAR data and orthophotography, identified terraces on the Portofino promontory, enabling investigating even barely accessible areas and increasing knowledge on the territory. The aim of this paper is first of all to point out the presence of such anthropogenic morphologies in the promontory of Monte di Portofino and then to asses and highlight the related hazard. In fact, terraces can be a source of debris/hyper-concentrated flow with highly damaging power, as occurred in the recent years in neighboring areas during particularly intense hydrological events. Then, terraced area mapping, including in use and in abandonment information, is crucial to perform a spatial relationship analysis that includes hazard-exposed elements and to evaluate the possible connectivity factor of buildings, infrastructures, tourism facilities and Cultural Heritage within the hydrographical network. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Terraced Landscapes and Hydrological-Geological Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial Variability of Soil Moisture in Newly Implemented Agricultural Bench Terraces in the Ethiopian Plateau
Water 2019, 11(10), 2134; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102134 - 14 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In arid areas prone to desertification and soil erosion, the effectiveness of radical bench terracing in reducing drought risk is dependent on its correct implementation. However, the relationship between proper terracing implementation and the landscape capacity of holding soil moisture is still not [...] Read more.
In arid areas prone to desertification and soil erosion, the effectiveness of radical bench terracing in reducing drought risk is dependent on its correct implementation. However, the relationship between proper terracing implementation and the landscape capacity of holding soil moisture is still not understood. Moreover, spatial patterns of Soil Water Content (SWC) within the same terraced hillslope are weakly studied. The present paper analyses SWC variations in four newly implemented terraced sites in Tigray Region, Ethiopia. In all sites, terraced areas show SWC significantly higher than non-terraced ones, with the lower part of the terraced hillslope more humid than the others. A Multiple Linear Regression (MLR) analysis highlighted significant dependency of SWC from the date of analysis, the position in the terraced slope, and its significant positive correlation with the percent of Water Stable Aggregates (WSA) analyzed at the study sites. Since high soil disturbance induces low soil aggregates stability, this result shows how low soil disturbance can significantly increase SWC of radical terraces. Overall, the results of the present paper testify the good performances of bench terraces in Northern Ethiopia in terms of soil water conservation, and can represent a benchmark study informing future terracing implementation in some arid and semi-arid agricultural areas of the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Terraced Landscapes and Hydrological-Geological Hazards)
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Open AccessArticle
Design of Terrace Drainage Networks Using UAV-Based High-Resolution Topographic Data
Water 2019, 11(4), 814; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040814 - 18 Apr 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Hillslope viticulture has a long history in Mediterranean Europe, and still holds important cultural and economic value. Steep hillsides have widely been levelled by terraces, in order to control surface water flow and facilitate cultivation. However, under unsustainable management and growing rainfall aggressiveness, [...] Read more.
Hillslope viticulture has a long history in Mediterranean Europe, and still holds important cultural and economic value. Steep hillsides have widely been levelled by terraces, in order to control surface water flow and facilitate cultivation. However, under unsustainable management and growing rainfall aggressiveness, terraced vineyards have become one of the most erosion-prone agricultural landscapes. The Valcamonica valley in Lombardy (Italy) presents a typical example of an ancient wine production region where rural land abandonment has previously caused widespread degradation of the traditional terracing systems. Recently, a local revival of wine production led to restoration plans of the terraces and their drainage functioning, to safeguard productivity and hydrogeologic safety. In this study, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) survey was carried out to reconstruct an accurate and precise 3D terrain model of a Valcamonica vineyard through photogrammetry. The resulting high-resolution topographic data allowed insights of surface flow-induced soil erosion patterns based on the Relative Path Impact Index (RPII). Three diverse drainage networks were designed and digitally implemented, allowing scenario analysis of the costs and benefits in terms of potential erosion mitigation. The presented methodology could likely improve the time-efficiency and cost-effectiveness of similar restoration plans in degraded landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Terraced Landscapes and Hydrological-Geological Hazards)
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