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Environ Res. 2016 May;147:590-600. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.11.030. Epub 2015 Dec 4.

Linking trajectories of land change, land degradation processes and ecosystem services.

Author information

1
Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria- Research Unit for Climatology and Meteorology applied to Agriculture (CRA-CMA), Via del Caravita 7/a, 00186 Rome, Italy. Electronic address: daniela.smiraglia@entecra.it.
2
Alterra Wageningen UR, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, 6708PB, Wageningen, The Netherlands. Electronic address: tomaso.ceccarelli@wur.nl.
3
Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria- Research Unit for Climatology and Meteorology applied to Agriculture (CRA-CMA), Via del Caravita 7/a, 00186 Rome, Italy. Electronic address: sofia.bajocco@entecra.it.
4
Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria-Centre for the Study of Plant-Soil Interactions (CRA-RPS), Via della Navicella 2-4, 00184 Rome, Italy. Electronic address: luca.salvati@entecra.it.
5
Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria- Research Unit for Climatology and Meteorology applied to Agriculture (CRA-CMA), Via del Caravita 7/a, 00186 Rome, Italy. Electronic address: luigi.perini@entecra.it.

Abstract

Land Degradation (LD) is a complex phenomenon resulting in a progressive reduction in the capacity of providing ecosystem services (ES). Landscape transformations promoting an unsustainable use of land often reveal latent processes of LD. An evaluation carried out in respect to the different ecosystem services is nowadays regarded as the most appropriate approach for assessing the effects of LD. The aim of this study is to develop an evaluation framework for identifying the linkages between land changes, LD processes and ES and suggesting Sustainable Land Management (SLM) options suited to reverse (or mitigate) LD impact. A SWOT analysis was carried out with the aim to identify internal and external factors that are favorable (or unfavorable) to achieve the proposed SLM actions. The study areas are the Fortore valley and the Valpadana, in Italy. The main trajectory identified for the Fortore valley is related to land abandonment due to population aging and the progressive emigration started in the 1950s. The most relevant LD processes are soil erosion and geomorphological instability, affecting regulating services such as natural hazard and erosion control. SLM options should consider interventions to contrast geomorphological instability, the promotion of climate smart agriculture and of typical products, and an efficient water resources management. The main trajectories identified for Valpadana are related to urban expansion and farmland abandonment and, as a consequence, land take due to anthropogenic pressure and woodland expansion as the main LD process. The reduction of food production was identified as the most relevant provisioning service affected. SLM should envisage best practices finalized to water saving and soil consumption reduction: efficient irrigation solutions, climate smart agriculture and zero sealing practices. This study highlights the diagnostic value of the suggested approach where LD processes are elicited from land change trajectories determining specific impacts on ES and providing operational support for the implementation of SLM options.

KEYWORDS:

Land abandonment; Land take; SWOT analysis; Soil degradation; Sustainable land management

PMID:
26654561
DOI:
10.1016/j.envres.2015.11.030
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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