Article
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Desertification constantly and diachronically manifested itself as one of the most critical environmental issues to be confronted and mitigated by society. This work presents the development of a land desertification risk Expert System (ES) for assessing the application of different land management practices by utilizing indicators through a desertification risk index (DRI). The DRI was developed by a desertification risk assessment framework generated in seventeen study sites worldwide. This assessment was performed through a methodological process incorporating indicators suited to a plethora of physical, social and economic characteristics. Then, the Desertification Risk Assessment Support Tool (DRAST) was created using the indicators' methodology in an effort to efficiently handle complexity and variability in soil and water resources management. To demonstrate DRAST's applicability, an independent data base of indicators was used, and the tool was employed in all the seventeen study sites. Five indicative sites, experiencing different desertification processes, are selected as key representatives of the methodological process implementation. Overall, the assessment depicted that DRAST performs appropriately in demarcating existing desertification risk as well as in portraying how the desertification risk changes after the application of pertinent mitigation actions. Thus, the current approach may lead towards a standardized procedure, which is using the advantages of information technology to assess the effectiveness of various land management practices and facilitate stakeholders and decision-makers to produce and implement timely and appropriate responses to combat desertification.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Regarding the soil quality, common indicators include parent material, rock fragments, soil depth, soil gradient, soil structural decline, salinization, electrical conductivity, topsoil clay composition, drainage, soil erosion, etc. Regarding the climate quality, common indicators include precipitation, aridity, aspect, wind erosion index, wind speed, etc. Regarding the vegetation quality, common indicators include fire risk, soil erosion protection, plant drought resistance, plant cover, etc. Regarding the management and human activity quality, common indicators include population density, annual growth, grazing pressure, land use, policy implementation, agricultural intensity, etc. Even Karavitis et al. [86] selected 98 indicators to construct a desertification risk index in terms of the soil erosion, cropland erosion, soil salinization, water stress, overgrazing, and wildfires. This confirms the MED-ALUS model's flexibility in indicator selection, but it raises two questions: is it necessary to select so many indicators? ...
... Regarding the soil quality, common indicators include parent material, rock fragments, soil depth, soil gradient, soil structural decline, salinization, electrical conductivity, topsoil clay composition, drainage, soil erosion, etc. Regarding the climate quality, common indicators include precipitation, aridity, aspect, wind erosion index, wind speed, etc. Regarding the vegetation quality, common indicators include fire risk, soil erosion protection, plant drought resistance, plant cover, etc. Regarding the management and human activity quality, common indicators include population density, annual growth, grazing pressure, land use, policy implementation, agricultural intensity, etc. Even Karavitis et al. [86] selected 98 indicators to construct a desertification risk index in terms of the soil erosion, cropland erosion, soil salinization, water stress, overgrazing, and wildfires. This confirms the MEDALUS model's flexibility in indicator selection, but it raises two questions: is it necessary to select so many indicators? ...
Article
Full-text available
Land desertification profoundly affects economic and social development, thus necessitating a collective response. Regional land control planning needs to assess the land sensitivity to desertification across different regions. In this study, we selected 12 factors from soil, vegetation, climate, and terrain aspects to calculate and evaluate Xinjiang’s land sensitivity to desertification, from 2001 to 2020, and analyzed its trends and drivers. The results indicated that the region is highly (22.93%) to extremely sensitive (34.63%) to desertification. Of these, deserts, Gobi lands, oasis–desert transitional zones, and the downstream of rivers are highly and extremely sensitive areas. Mountainous areas, oases, and along rivers are non- and mildly sensitive areas. Over the past two decades, most areas have experienced stability (45.07%) and a slight improvement of desertification (26.18%), while the Junggar Basin and Central Taklamakan Desert have seen slight and severe intensification trends, respectively. Climate-related indicators, such as surface temperature and potential evapotranspiration (PET), were identified as the most important drivers of changes in land sensitivity to desertification. Having an integrated water resource allocation and establishing the long-term monitoring of land sensitivity to desertification would have positive implications for desertification control.
... They also consider integrating machine learning techniques and mathematical models to predict areas at risk of desertification useful for studies. Finally, in the logic of contrasting desertification processes as a participatory process, it is important to evaluate the creation of freely consultable and accessible tools [45][46][47][48] that make the research results usable by all the stakeholders [49]. ...
Chapter
Desertification is defined as land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. The desertification process in the world affects around 200 countries and 2 billion people. It has become a growing threat in the EU due to prolonged drought periods and increasing aridity. The Mediterranean Desertification and Land Use (MEDALUS) method, identify the environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) through the application of biophysical and socio – economic indicators and relative index (ESAI). The MEDALUS has some limitations, namely the impossibility of reconducting the ESAI results to a single and comparable value, and the need to recalibrate the indices when moving from a regional scale to a local scale. The Environmentally Sensitive Index Patch (ESPI) has been developed to overcome the aforementioned barriers. The ESPI index assigns numerical values to ESAI results on a scale of 0−100. In the present paper, we discuss an experimental application of the MEDALUS method on a local scale and the outcome of the experimentation of the ESPI calculated at different territorial scales. The study was carried out in the Sicily Region. Preliminary results indicate that the ESPI index can be used at all scales on the ESAI and its four constituent qualities. Also, the authors started a critical review of the thematic layers to be adopted for the basin scales.KeywordsApplied mathematicsIndex Sensitive DesertificationMEDALUSESAEcologyGeological problemsG.I.S.Spatial analyses
... Feng et al. (2015) suggest that desertification is the consequence of complex connections between different factors, which include CC and human activities. According to Karavitis et al. (2020), desertification has continually and diachronically displayed itself as one of the most vital environmental issues to be confronted and alleviated by humanity. Huang et al. (2020Huang et al. ( :1380 state that desertification is "the failure of waterless, semiarid, and some sub-humid ecology". ...
... In addition, the compound effect of anthropogenic interventions and inappropriate and/or uncoordinated management actions to use and/or protect natural resources could cause significant environmental degradation that may even be irreversible in vulnerable ecosystems [9,10]. A degraded ecosystem ones, using individual variables that describe specific dimensions of the phenomenon or system under study and provide limited information and (ii) composite indicators, created by groups of simple indicators so as to synergistically describe complex systems or phenomena [2,49,[52][53][54]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Natural resources degradation poses multiple challenges, particularly to environmental and economic processes. It is usually difficult to identify the degree of degradation and the critical vulnerability values in the affected systems. Thus, among other tools, indices (composite indicators) may also describe these complex systems or phenomena. In this approach, the Water and Land Resources Degradation Index was applied to the fifth largest Mediterranean island, Crete, for the 1999–2014 period. The Water and Land Resources Degradation Index uses 11 water and soil resources related indicators: Aridity Index, Water Demand, Drought Impacts, Drought Resistance Water Resources Infrastructure, Land Use Intensity, Soil Parent Material, Plant Cover, Rainfall, Slope, and Soil Texture. The aim is to identify the sensitive areas to degradation due to anthropogenic interventions and natural processes, as well as their vulnerability status. The results for Crete Island indicate that prolonged water resources shortages due to low average precipitation values or high water demand (especially in the agricultural sector), may significantly affect Water and Land degradation processes. Hence, Water and Land Resources Degradation Index could serve as an extra tool to assist policymakers to improve their decisions to combat Natural Resources degradation.
... The academic community has directed efforts towards semi-arid regions, through studies that address the analysis of dynamics of natural conditions (Krol et al., 2006), social vulnerability (Vieira et al., 2020) and desertification (Jiang et al., 2019;Joseph et al., 2018;Karavitis et al., 2020;Salih et al., 2017;Xue et al., 2019). In addition, to boost the development of these regions, governments have sought to implement infrastructures and technologies that meet the water demand for public supply, animal feed and to enable irrigation (Cirilo, 2008). ...
Article
Vulnerability to water stress brings challenges to water resources management in arid and semi-arid regions and it is an obstacle to socioeconomic development. In this sense, some technologies are used to overcome this bottleneck. The present study sought to investigate the insertion of cisterns and public irrigation schemes in seven sub-basins in Brazil's semi-arid regions, to verify their effects on family farming agricultural development and their suitability according to water availability trend. These technologies were spatialized and agricultural production trend lines, between 1995 and 2017, were generated in order to indicate these technologies efficiency. Finally, the precipitation, surface and subsurface runoff trend was evaluated for all sub-basins. Trend analysis in agricultural production showed that a large part of the municipalities had a decrease in agricultural production and municipalities that had a larger number of cisterns did not achieve good agricultural development, while agricultural irrigation systems brought better results. Regarding physical-natural conditions, subsurface runoff has decreased and an increase in surface runoff was identified, which can be collected through the installation of new cisterns. However, for this purpose, future investigations are important to identify the factors that are affecting cisterns performance.
... To that effect, an array of methodologies and parameters have been developed in many countries across the world in the past decades to provide a complex analysis of LDD (Prȃvȃlie et al., 2017). The most commonly applied methodologies include the FAO/UNEP methodology (FAO-UNEP, 1984, 1997, the DSPIR framework (GIWA, 2001), MEDALUS (Kosmas et al., 1999), LADA (Liniger et al., 2008) and DRAST (Karavitis et al., 2020). The Mediterranean Desertification and Land Use (MEDALUS) method was designed specifically for this European region, with it being used, for example, for Italy (Salvati and Bajocco, 2011;Ladisa et al., 2012;Smiraglia et al., 2019), Spain (Lavado Contador et al., 2009), Romania (Prȃvȃlie et al., 2020), and Turkey (Budak et al., 2018;Uzuner and Dengiz, 2020), but also for other parts of the world, like Egypt (Bakr et al., 2012), Algeria (Boudjemline and Semar 2018), Iran (Sepehr et al., 2007), and Morocco (Ait Lamqadem et al., 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Land degradation and desertification (LDD) is one of the greatest ecological challenges of today, with climate change resulting from anthropogenic factors a major cause of it. Recent projections of LDD in the Mediterranean region indicate a gradual widening of arid areas due to increased aridity and global warming by the end of the 21st century. Therefore, this study used the MEDALUS method to identify sensitivity to LDD in Western Serbia between 1986 and 2005 and to assess possible effects of climate change (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios) on land degradation processes by the end of the 21st century. Likewise, analysis of possible major drivers of degradation was conducted using principal component analysis (PCA) and multiple linear regression analysis (MLRA). The study revealed that degradation processes in the study area were found to be most influenced by anthropogenic drivers (34.4%), less so by natural/anthropogenic ones (23.5%), and least by natural factors (20.1%). Results also showed that critical areas of LDD susceptibility account for nearly 37% of the study area, transitional areas cover 35%, while 27% constitutes potentially safe areas. Additionally, critical areas were projected to expand by 33.6% (RCP4.5) and 51.7% (RCP8.5) by 2100 as a result of predicted temperature increases and a reduction in precipitation in the study area. This study also revealed that the Standardised Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) better explains the impact of climate change on LDD than other indices, bearing in mind the capacity of this index to detect temporal oscillations in drought in the context of climate change, and it is therefore a reliable climate parameter for this method.
Article
Full-text available
The Sahel is facing a serious environmental crisis due to aeolian disaster that has seriously affected the local development and survival of residents. Thus, evaluating the aeolian disaster risk levels and variation in the Sahel is important. This study established an optimal model by evaluating the applicability of different models in the aeolian disaster risk determination in the Sahel. Using on this model, the spatiotemporal changes in the risk subsystem of aeolian disaster (hazard, sensitivity, vulnerability, and restorability) and the aeolian disaster risk in the Sahel from 2000 to 2020 were analyzed. Based on this analysis, the impact of climate change and human activities on the aeolian disaster risk in the Sahel was evaluated. Results revealed that the variable fuzzy recognition (VFR) based on the aeolian disaster risk index (ADRI) model had the highest accuracy, reaching 89.72 %. The middle of the Sahel, located in the desert-grassland transition zone, exhibited a high hazard, sensitivity, and vulnerability, rendering it highly susceptible to aeolian disaster. The proportion of areas with very low and very high aeolian disaster risk levels decreased from 2000 to 2020, while those with low and high levels increased, and the change in moderate risk level areas remained relatively stable. Areas of low, moderate, and high risk are more sensitive to climate change and human activities and are subjected to greater pressure for change. Human activities were the main factor for the change of ADRI in the Sahel, accounting for 69.74 and 58.19 % of the increased and decreased areas of ADRI, respectively. This study evaluated the level of aeolian disaster risk in the Sahel and identified the main driving factors, providing a reference for Sahel countries to better implement the Green Great Wall (GGW) program in Africa, thereby mitigating the adverse effects of aeolian disaster.
Article
Full-text available
Land degradation adversely affects the well-being of approximately 3.2 billion people worldwide and results in a loss of about 10% of annual gross domestic product. Degradation dynamics are often creeping and non-linear, hence the adverse consequences are often not immediately perceived. In consequence, methods for assessing future risks of land degradation and risk reduction strategies are trailing far behind those that have been developed within disaster risk research for natural hazards that appear as shocks, such as floods or earthquakes. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to analyze existing land degradation risk assessment approaches to assess what is hindering a link to land management strategies. The synthesis presented here reveals that while approaches to calculate land degradation risk have evolved to capture ever more processes and factorsi nvolved in land degradation, no consistent conceptual framework for land degradation risk has been developed to the present day. Key identified short-comings are that risk terminology is not consistent across and within studies and that there is often no distinction between a degradation status assessment and an assessment of future risk. Damage is rarely explicitly considered or quantified, and in the majority of studies there is no clear distinction between processes and drivers, hazard and vulnerability. Finally, novel conceptual ideas integrating the risk framework developed within disaster risk research are proposed to stimulate debate and facilitate the development of effective risk reduction measures for land degradation.
Article
Full-text available
Desertification has been considered as a serious threat to arid, semi-arid and even semi-humid climates in recent decades and it is a major obstacle to sustainable global development, so monitoring its changes is urgent. Using remote sensing and GIS is one of the cost-effective, often free, and accessible methods to monitor changes in these areas. In this study, the change vector analysis method was used for the evaluation and analysis of desertification change in a part of Ghalehganj county in the south of Kerman province. For this purpose, Landsat 8 image bands in two time periods of 2014 (first period) and 2020 period (second period) for March and April were used in Google Earth Engine. Image pre-processing was applied and averaging was done separately for both periods which was followed by the calculation of EVI and BSI indices. For the next step, using these two indicators and the change vector analysis method in the GIS software, the magnitude and direction of desertification change trends were determined. The results of the present research indicated the dominance of the reclamation process in the region during the years studied, and the overall results indicate that the development of cultivated lands and land use change have the most significant impact on monitoring indicators and desertification trends in the region. Thus, the degradation of lands around residential areas is witnessed, and on the other hand, there is a significant relationship between agricultural activities and rehabilitation areas in the region.
Article
Identifying priority management areas (PMAs) through assessing integrated eco-environmental risk (IER) of watersheds is vital for efficient integrated watershed management (IWM). However, there is a lack of effective tools to support IWM. A novel framework, which couples the analytical network process with the mean-square deviation decision method to quantify reciprocal feedbacks between ecosystems and socio-economic systems for assessing IER, was developed to identify PMAs for IWM through a case study in the upper Beiyun River watershed, China. The results show that water pollution, water resources, soil loss, hazards (i.e., floods, debris flows, collapses, and landslides), and vegetation degradation are noticeable environmental problems in the watershed. Water pollution, floods, and vegetation degradation risks are high in the southeast plain areas and low in the northwest mountainous areas of the watershed, while the other eco-environmental risks are opposite that of the three risks. The soil loss is mainly dominated by negligible class with a mean of 10.87 (t·km−2·yr−1). The weights of water pollution risk and socio-economic indicator for IER are 0.2906 and 0.1837, respectively. It indicates that water pollution control is crucial for IWM, and socio-economic systems have a significant impact on IER. The PMAs, which are identified as zones with extremely high IER values, account for 6.46 % (72.91 km2) of the watershed. They are centrally distributed in the southeastern areas with high risks of both water pollution and vegetation degradation caused by large population density. The framework provides an effective tool to assess IER and identify PMAs for IWM.
Article
Desertification risk depends on the interplay of biophysical and socioeconomic drivers, among which climate change, soil depletion, landscape modifications, and biodiversity decline are key factors of change in Southern Europe. The present study introduces a diachronic analysis of desertification risk in Italy adopting a multidimensional approach based on four dimensions (ecological, economic, demographic, and administrative) assessed at three dates (1961, 1991, and 2011). These risk components were evaluated separately in Southern Italy, a formerly affected region (sensu United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), and Northern/Central Italy, a nonaffected region in the country. All risk measures document how the divide between affected and nonaffected regions in Italy has gradually reduced. Because of local warming and rising human pressure, Northern Italy has recently displayed a level of desertification risk close to those observed in Southern Italy over the last 30 years. These results suggest a thorough revision of the national classification of risky areas, that may inform more specific mitigation and adaptation policies responding effectively to recent socioenvironmental trends and local (economic) dynamics. The intrinsic system's evolution observed at both regional and national level in Italy may be generalized to a broader European context. Our work finally documents the appropriateness of a multidimensional definition of desertification risk grounded on the joint analysis of ecological, demographic, economic, and administrative indicators. A comprehensive knowledge of socioeconomic patterns and processes of change contributes to more precise scenario modeling and design of integrated strategies mitigating desertification risk.
Article
Full-text available
Desertification is an environmental threat that affects many countries in the world, and it poses specially an ecological issue to Algeria. This study aimed to assess areas sensitive to desertification in North-Eastern Algeria (Tebessa province) using a logistic regression model (LRM), and geomatics-based approaches. Topsoil Grain Size Index (TGSI), Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Aridity index (AI), and Anthropic pressure on the steppe environment (APSE) were selected as desertification indicators for representing land surface conditions from soil, vegetation, climate, and anthropic disruptors. Results indicate that both AI and TGSI are the most crucial indices conditioning desertification risk. Other indices; NDVI and ASPE were appeared as secondary important indices. Herein, although vegetation generally is a key factor for reading desertification, this result shows that vegetation changes in this study are less important than other desertification conditioning parameters. Area under curve value equal 0.94 indicates a satisfactory accuracy for the proposed model. In total, desertification risk changes increasingly along a North-to-South gradient of the whole research area. Besides, slight, moderate, high, and very high classes occupied 0.87%, 21.08%, 19.33% and 58.72% of the total land area, respectively. LRM is recommended as an accurate and easily applied tool to monitor desertification, especially in scarce data environment in developing countries. Additionally, the results obtained in this paper represent a basic scientific tool for implementing current and future policies to control desertification at areas with high risk.
Article
Full-text available
Desertification is a serious problem in most arid and semi-arid areas of the world, and especially in Iran. Combating desertification planning and any preparatory measures require detailed mapping of the current status of desertification as well as its evolvement during the time. This study, basically relying on remote sensing datasets, strives to map desertification in the Sabzevar area of Iran and identify its changes between the years 2001 and 2020. The indicators used in this study included Enhanced Vegetation Index, Vegetation Condition Index, Salinity Index, Synthetized Drought Index, Temperature Condition Index, Precipitation, Normalized Vegetation Index, and Land Surface Temperature. Analytical Hierarchical Process was used to determine the weight of the factors and the fuzzy overlay approach was used for synthesizing the thematic layer maps. According to the expert judgments, precipitation and salinity are the most important desertification factors in the area (~ 50% of the total weight). In terms of land-use changes over the past 20 years, urban, desert, croplands and bare lands grew in size at the expense of rangelands and open canopy forests which shrank greater than 3.5% (435 km²). Based on our findings, the total area of desertification classes has not changed considerably during the period but there has been a growth in very high and high desertification intensity classes by 12%. According to our findings, very high and high classes have increased between the years 2001 and 2020 mostly in the central and southern parts of the study area. The results obtained in this research are very important to the land managers of the Khorasan Razavi Province, for formulating sustainable development programs and avoiding the unwanted consequences of desertification.
Article
Mapping and monitoring of the complex process of desertification based on ground data in broad arid and semi‐arid areas faces basic limitations. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to propose a new method for mapping this phenomenon in central Iran using biological and non‐biological (BNB) indices of remote sensing products from 2003 to 2016. For this purpose, BNB indices including normalized difference vegetation index, land surface temperature, temperature vegetation dryness index, precipitation, evapotranspiration, net primary production, rain use efficiency, aridity index and slope were extracted using MOD13A2, MOD11A2, PERSIANN‐CDR and SRTM products. After calibration and normalization of indices; they were combined using fuzzy logic and gamma operator and the combined 2003 map was validated by MEDALUS model map prepared based on ground data in 2003 using Pearson correlation and error matrix. Results showed more than 70% correlation (p<0.001) as well as overall accuracy and Kappa coefficient of more than 70% and 0.5 between remote sensing‐based and MEDALUS‐based desertification maps. According to the 2003 and 2016 maps, desertification classes including low, moderate, severe and very severe changed from 11.9%, 49.8%, 34% and 4.1% to 11.11%, 43.21%, 40.43% and 5.24%, respectively, which indicate increasing trend of desertification in the region. The findings demonstrate the high capability of proposed method to map and monitor desertification classes. Therefore, it can be used to update existing desertification models and to report desertification condition and its positive and negative trends at local, national and international levels. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
Since desertification threatens the global environment and security of society, predicting its patterns and trends across space and time would inform policy‐making strategies for desertification control and sustainable development. China is among the countries most severely affected by desertification, representing 17.93% of its total land area. To better understand the future dynamics of desertification in this country, a spatial system dynamic model that coupled natural and human factors was developed to simulate the desertification process in North China in 2030 under nine scenarios. The results showed the model had good ability and satisfactory accuracy for desertification simulation at the national scale, for which temperature and rainfall were the most sensitive factors driving desertification. Current ecological projects and policies were found to be effective for desertification control, which would lead to reversal of desertification in 2030 when coupled with average climate conditions; further, this reversal trend would be accelerated under a humid climate scenario. Although positive ecological policies would promote the reversal of desertification, only 5% increasement of reverted area was obtained when it coupled with an arid climatic condition. The latter (aridity) and a passive ecological protection policy would together accelerate desertification expansion, especially in the Yili Basin, the Houshan region of Inner Mongolia and the Yinchuan Plain. Thus, the ecological projects and policies should carry on in the long‐term to achieve sustainable control and prevent desertification. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Land-use planning (LUP), an instrument of land governance, is often employed to protect land and humans against natural and human-induced hazards, strengthen the resilience of land systems, and secure their sustainability. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) underlines the critical role of appropriate local action to address the global threat of land degradation and desertification (LDD) and calls for the use of local and regional LUP to combat LDD and achieve land degradation neutrality. The paper explores the challenges of putting this call into practice. After presenting desertification and the pertinent institutional context, the paper examines whether and how LDD concerns enter the stages of the LUP process and the issues arising at each stage. LDD problem complexity, the prevailing mode of governance, and the planning style endorsed, combined with LDD awareness, knowledge and perception, value priorities, geographic particularities and historical circumstances, underlie the main challenges confronting LUP; namely, adequate representation of LDD at each stage of LUP, conflict resolution between LDD-related and development goals, need for cooperation, collaboration and coordination of numerous and diverse actors, sectors, institutions and policy domains from multiple spatial/organizational levels and uncertainty regarding present and future environmental and socio-economic change. In order to realize the integrative potential of LUP and foster its effectiveness in combating LDD at the local and regional levels, the provision of an enabling, higher-level institutional environment should be prioritized to support phrοnetic-strategic integrated LUP at lower levels, which future research should explore theoretically, methodologically and empirically.
Article
Full-text available
Indices are used for representing complex phenomena; however, concerns usually arise regarding their objectivity and reliability, particularly dealing with their uncertainties during the development process. The current overarching objective is to reveal the significance of employing different weighting techniques in the application of the Standardized Drought Vulnerability Index (SDVI) and demarcate any pertinent implications that may emerge in drought decision making. Greece, as it is very often facing the catastrophic effects of droughts, presents an almost ideal case for the SDVI testing. SDVI outcomes were tested utilizing five weighting techniques deriving from four weighting methods. The analyses indicated that the use of complex weighting models may not be necessary in all cases and that the simple equal weighting method seems more effective to estimate drought vulnerability. It also seems more important to address the search for valid, reliable and relevant individual indicators forming the complex index as well as appropriate index development processes that would measure performance of water bodies, systems and schemes, monitor the process of equitable sharing, and provide mechanisms for monitoring the state and changes in interdependent water systems.
Article
Full-text available
The degradation of natural resources at an intense rate creates serious problems in the environmental systems particularly with the compounding effects of climatic vagaries and changes. On the one hand, desertification is a crucial universal, mostly an anthropogenic environmental issue affecting soils all over the world. On the other hand, drought is a natural phenomenon in direct association with reduced rainfall in various spatial and temporal frames. Vulnerabilities to drought and desertification are complex processes caused by environmental, ecological, social, economic and anthropogenic factors. Particularly for the Mediterranean semi-arid conditions, where the physical and structural systems are more vulnerable, the abuse and overuse of the natural resources lead to their degradation and ultimately, if the current trends continue, to their marginalization. The scope of the current effort is trying to find any common drivers for the pressures of both processes. Thus, the vulnerabilities to drought and desertification are comparing by using the Standardized Drought Vulnerability Index (SDVI) and the Environmentally Sensitive Areas Index (ESAI). The indices are calculated from October 1983 to September 1996 in Greece. Greece is prone to desertification and it is often experiencing intense droughts, thus it presents an almost ideal case study area. The results may indicate that the most important factor for such procedures is the deficits in water resources, either due to lower than usually expected rainfall or to higher societal water demand.
Article
Full-text available
Desertification is the consequence of a series of important degradation processes in semi-arid and arid regions, where water is the main limiting factor of land use performance on ecosystems. Environmental indicators can facilitate the assessment and monitoring of desertification by providing synthetic information on the status and trends of environmental processes leading to desertification. This paper analayses the importance of using indicators for defining areas vulnerable to desertification and the criteria for selecting indicators of desertification risk. Simple indicators related to the physical environment such as soil depth, slope gradient, slope exposure, parent material, rock fragment content, annual rainfall, aridity index, type of vegetation, plant cover, etc., and land management characteristics such as tillage operations, tillage depth, controlled grazing, period of exiting land use type, erosion control measures, etc., can be easily used for defining desertification risk. However, the use of indicators related to socio-economic characteristics of an area such as family size, farmer age, farm size, farmer income, land tenure, etc., should be treated very cautiously, analyzed at local conditions, and not generalized for other areas. The indicators become more effective when they are applied on the basis of land use type.
Article
Full-text available
Drought is a complex natural phenomenon that lacks a universally accepted definition, thus it is difficult to confront holistically. Several efforts have been made towards managing the widespread and catastrophic drought impacts. In this quest, the concept of vulnerability to drought seems to offer some significant potential. In the present attempt, a standardized drought vulnerability index (SDVI) is presented, applied, and spatially visualized through geostatistical methods on a country scale. Greece, experiencing frequent and intense droughts, was selected as the study site. In an effort to link drought characteristics to impacts, the index incorporates water supply information, demand data, the state of the relevant water infrastructure and climatic parameters represented by the standardized precipitation index. The index showed potential in portraying various vulnerability states and followed satisfactorily the vulnerability fluctuations in Greece in relation to recorded drought hazard dimensions and impacts. The SDVI may be considered as a first step for the emergence of an integrated SDVI with multiscalar applications in environmental research and decision-making. It is believed that improving techniques in index formulation may complement more reasonable and acceptable solutions to water challenges posed by droughts and help avoid a drifting sense of continuous ‘water crises’.
Article
Full-text available
It has become increasingly clear that desertification can only be tackled through amulti-disciplinary approach that not only involves scientists but also stakeholders. In the DESIRE project such an approach was taken. As a first step, a conceptual framework was developed inwhich the factors and processes thatmay lead to land degradation and desertification were described. Many of these factors do not work independently, but can reinforce or weaken one another, and to illustrate these relationships sustainable management and policy feedback loops were included. This conceptual framework can be applied globally, but can also bemade sitespecific to take into account that each study site has a unique combination of bio-physical, socio-economic and political conditions. Once the conceptual framework was defined, a methodological framework was developed in which the methodological steps taken in the DESIRE approach were listed and their logic and sequence were explained. The last step was to develop a concrete working plan to put the project into action, involving stakeholders throughout the process. This series of steps, in full or in part, offers explicit guidance for other organizations or projects that aim to reduce land degradation and desertification.
Book
Full-text available
Full text available from the European Soil Portal at the URL: http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/esdb_archive/eusoils_docs/esb_rr/n05_ManualVer11EN4.pdf
Article
Full-text available
The use of standardised precipitation index (SPI) may lead to an understanding of a droughts magnitude and duration and thus contributing to integrated drought management options. Greece, a semi-arid country, has very often faced the hazardous impacts of droughts. The worst drought on record lasted from 1989 to 1993, and affected all the country, particularly the urban water supply of Athens metropolitan area. Rainfall time series from 41 rain stations were used to calculate SPI, for time scales of 3, 6, 12 and 24 months. Forty eight (48) interpolation surfaces were produced and assessed using historical data and statistical parameters for the SPI spatial visualisation through GIS kriging of the 1989–1993 drought. The results suggest the use of SPI as a drought monitoring tool, namely in areas with a distinct dry season, supporting drought forecasting and assisting integrated strategies for drought management.
Article
Full-text available
The Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) was developed by the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission as a global composite index that quantifies the vulnerability of an area's environment. Greece has been selected as reference area due to its current physical and anthropogenic conditions that may lead to environmental instabilities in the natural, social, and economic infrastructure environment. Hence, in the present approach, using data on Greece, an effort to define the range of information that the EVI may provide for the pertinent country is presented and a discussion on whether the index may be further developed is conveyed. Advantages as well as shortcomings of the Index are also delineated.
Article
Full-text available
Drought constitutes a rather severe hazard to all human activities, and especially to water supply. After numerous efforts to improve planning and management actions against droughts, many deficiencies still remain. The major new challenge is the development of integrated, comprehensive, and effective drought management schemes, with the aid of decision support systems (DDS), particularly under extreme and adverse condition. These conditions can be found in the physical, structural, socio-economic and institutional environment. The metropolitan Athens area in Greece, a semiarid area where the water supply is accomplished by a series of reservoirs and conveyance structures approximately 190 km to the west of the region, reflects such a case. In this regard, the present paper is trying to identify appropriate solutions for the above problematic areas by incorporating elements of integrated drought management strategies. The resulting options may be used as a means to avoid undesirable effects or major future crises in meeting the continuous challenge of drought and in fortifying a risk management commitment.
Article
Full-text available
Indicator-based approaches are often used to monitor land degradation and desertification from the global to the very local scale. However, there is still little agreement on which indicators may best reflect both status and trends of these phenomena. In this study, various processes of land degradation and desertification have been analyzed in 17 study sites around the world using a wide set of biophysical and socioeconomic indicators. The database described earlier in this issue by Kosmas and others (Environ Manage, 2013) for defining desertification risk was further analyzed to define the most important indicators related to the following degradation processes: water erosion in various land uses, tillage erosion, soil salinization, water stress, forest fires, and overgrazing. A correlation analysis was applied to the selected indicators in order to identify the most important variables contributing to each land degradation process. The analysis indicates that the most important indicators are: (i) rain seasonality affecting water erosion, water stress, and forest fires, (ii) slope gradient affecting water erosion, tillage erosion and water stress, and (iii) water scarcity soil salinization, water stress, and forest fires. Implementation of existing regulations or policies concerned with resources development and environmental sustainability was identified as the most important indicator of land protection.
Article
Full-text available
An approach to derive relationships for defining land degradation and desertification risk and developing appropriate tools for assessing the effectiveness of the various land management practices using indicators is presented in the present paper. In order to investigate which indicators are most effective in assessing the level of desertification risk, a total of 70 candidate indicators was selected providing information for the biophysical environment, socio-economic conditions, and land management characteristics. The indicators were defined in 1,672 field sites located in 17 study areas in the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Based on an existing geo-referenced database, classes were designated for each indicator and a sensitivity score to desertification was assigned to each class based on existing research. The obtained data were analyzed for the various processes of land degradation at farm level. The derived methodology was assessed using independent indicators, such as the measured soil erosion rate, and the organic matter content of the soil. Based on regression analyses, the collected indicator set can be reduced to a number of effective indicators ranging from 8 to 17 in the various processes of land degradation. Among the most important indicators identified as affecting land degradation and desertification risk were rain seasonality, slope gradient, plant cover, rate of land abandonment, land-use intensity, and the level of policy implementation.
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study is to develop a methodological reference framework, for use at the basin scale, from which environmental sensitivity can be evaluated. In this paper the results of a 3-year investigation into the degradation processes related to desertification in the Agri basin environment (Southern Italy) are presented. Different degradation stages or desertification risks are also evaluated at the plot scale. These data, and the derived results, are integrated into a Geographic Information System (GIS) along with regional scale information layers related to selected environmental and socio-economic factors. The techniques developed at the plot scale are used both to prime and to assess the regional scale measures as they are developed. All data are managed in a GIS which facilitates access to the information and enables it to be updated in a timely fashion. The GIS also enhances data analysis, increasing the interpretability of the data, by enabling cross analysis procedures and various classifications to be performed. As a result, the current landscape genesis can be identified, and appropriate intervention stimulated rapidly. The main aims of the present research are, firstly, to set up an efficient and simple computational structure to evaluate the response of selected thematic layers to degradation phenomena at the basin scale and, secondly, to apply the resulting strategy to a specific situation in the Mediterranean Environment.
Article
Full-text available
Ecologists have a variety of tools for collecting and analyzing data, but relatively few tools that facilitate ecological reasoning. Up to this time, simulation models have been the basic means of organizing ecological knowledge in a way that can be rapidly processed by computer. Technologies for computer-based manipulation of knowledge have been developed in artificial intelligence. The areas of ecological science in which this technology is likely to prove important include: modelling and simulation, integration of qualitative and quantitative knowledge, theoretical development, and, natural resource management. Researchers and managers in both basic and applied ecology will be affected by these developments as AI-derived technologies are added to the ecological toolkit.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Compilation of SOTER and WISE-derived databases for use with the upcoming Harmonised World Soil Database
Article
Drought is a complex natural hazard with its adverse multifaceted impacts cascading in every physical and human system. The vulnerability magnitude of various areas to drought mostly depends on their exposure to water deficiency, the existing water management policy framework and its implementation. The Standardized Drought Vulnerability Index (SDVI) is an integrated attempt towards characterizing drought vulnerability based on a comparative classification system, incorporating precipitation patterns, the supply and demand trends, and the socioeconomic background as the most crucial contributors to drought vulnerability. This work attempts to evolve the SDVI by presenting a more rigorous method of index parameters estimation and argues that the combination of in-situ and satellite data improve the index results in an effort to further minimize the paucity of drought related information. At the same time, it helps to surpass previous limitations in temporal and spatial propagation of the vulnerability concept. The new framework is applied in the South Platte Basin, within Colorado, on the 2012 summer drought (July-September). The proposed index modification may convey drought information in a more holistic manner to decision makers. SDVI could aid in advancing the understanding of each component contribution through in situ and remote sensing data integration and in avoiding existing practices of broken linkages and fragmentation of the reported impacts. Thus, it is believed that the SDVI could serve as an additional tool to guide decisions and target mitigation and adaptation actions, allowing for a more integrated management approach.
Article
This study investigates the relationship between fine resolution, local-scale biophysical and socioeconomic contexts within which land degradation occurs, and the human responses to it. The research draws on experimental data collected under different territorial and socioeconomic conditions at 586 field sites in five Mediterranean countries (Spain, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco). We assess the level of desertification risk under various land management practices (terracing, grazing control, prevention of wildland fires, soil erosion control measures, soil water conservation measures, sustainable farming practices, land protection measures and financial subsidies) taken as possible responses to land degradation. A data mining approach, incorporating principal component analysis, non-parametric correlations, multiple regression and canonical analysis, was developed to identify the spatial relationship between land management conditions, the socioeconomic and environmental context (described using 40 biophysical and socioeconomic indicators) and desertification risk. Our analysis identified a number of distinct relationships between the level of desertification experienced and the underlying socioeconomic context, suggesting that the effectiveness of responses to land degradation is strictly dependent on the local biophysical and socioeconomic context. Assessing the latent relationship between land management practices and the biophysical/socioeconomic attributes characterizing areas exposed to different levels of desertification risk proved to be an indirect measure of the effectiveness of field actions contrasting land degradation.
Article
The traditional desertification paradigm focuses on the losses of ecosystem services that typically occur when grasslands transition to systems dominated by bare (unvegetated) ground or by woody plants that are unpalatable to domestic livestock. However, recent studies reveal complex transitions across a range of environmental conditions and socioeconomic contexts. The papers in this Special Issue illustrate how an improved understanding of these dynamics is generating more robust paradigms, where state changes and regime shifts occurring within the context of changes in land use and climate are modified by landform and antecedent conditions. New and emerging technologies are being used to characterize and evaluate processes and outcomes across various scales and levels of organization. At the same time, developments in education are taking advantage of these new perspectives. to improve the ecological literacy of future generations, and to better inform land-management decisions. A framework that integrates these perspectives provides a more comprehensive approach for understanding and predicting dryland dynamics.
Article
Soil degradation and desertification processes in the Mediterranean basin reflect the interplay between environmental and socioeconomic drivers. An approach to evaluate comparatively the multiple relationships between biophysical variables and socioeconomic factors is illustrated in the present study using the data collected from 586 field sites located in five Mediterranean areas (Spain, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco). A total of 47 variables were chosen to illustrate land-use, farm characteristics, population pressure, tourism development, rainfall regime, water availability, soil properties and vegetation cover, among others. A data mining approach incorporating non-parametric inference, principal component analysis and hierarchical clustering was developed to identify candidate syndromes of soil degradation and desertification risk. While field sites in the same study area showed a substantial similarity, the multivariate relationship among variables diverged among study areas. Data mining techniques proved to be a practical tool to identify spatial determinants of soil degradation and desertification risk. Our findings identify the contrasting spatial patterns for biophysical and socioeconomic variables, in turn associated with different responses to land degradation.
Article
Desire for Greener Land compiles options for Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in drylands. It is a result of the integrated research project DESIRE (Desertification Mitigation and Remediation of Land - A Global Approach for Local Solutions). Lasting five years (2007–2012) and funded within the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme, DESIRE brought together the expertise of 26 international research institutes and non-governmental organisations. The DESIRE project aimed to establish promising alternative land use and management strategies in 17 degradation and desertification sites around the world, relying on close collaboration between scientists and local stakeholder groups. The study sites provided a global laboratory in which researchers could apply, test, and identify new and innovative approaches to combatting desertification. The resulting SLM strategies are local- to regional-scale interventions designed to increase productivity, preserve natural resource bases, and improve people’s livelihoods. These were documented and mapped using the internationally recognised WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies) methodological framework, which formed an integral part of the DESIRE project. The DESIRE approach offers an integrated multidisciplinary way of working together from the beginning to the end of a project; it enables scientists, local stakeholders and policy makers to jointly find solutions to desertification. This book describes the DESIRE approach and WOCAT methodology for a range of audiences, from local agricultural advisors to scientists and policymakers. Links are provided to manuals and online materials, enabling application of the various tools and methods in similar projects. The book also includes an analysis of the current context of degradation and SLM in the study sites, in addition to analysis of the SLM technologies and approaches trialled in the DESIRE project. Thirty SLM technologies, eight SLM approaches, and several degradation and SLM maps from all the DESIRE study sites are compiled in a concise and well-illustrated format, following the style of this volume’s forerunner where the land is greener (WOCAT 2007). Finally, conclusions and policy points are presented on behalf of decision makers, the private sector, civil society, donors, and the research community. These are intended to support people’s efforts to invest wisely in the sustainable management of land – enabling greener drylands to become a reality, not just a desire.
Article
A better understanding of the spatial linkage between the distribution of land vulnerable to degradation and long-term population growth may contribute to sustainable land management of dry regions. Such a nexus has received increasing attention among politicians and local stakeholders, as its complex outcomes depend on mutual interactions between socioeconomic and biophysical factors. This is particularly true in southern Europe, where important processes of land degradation (LD) have been observed in recent years. This paper analyses population growth (1871–2007) in southern Italy and questions its relationship with the level of land vulnerable to degradation. Results indicate that vulnerable lands were more likely associated with areas where population growth has determined environmental pressures on coastal areas and the neighbouring lowlands during 1950–1980. This pattern consolidated the socioeconomic polarisation between core and peripheral areas. Since the 1980s, however, southern Italy has experienced a phase of polycentric development, possibly determining a ‘decoupling’ between population density and land vulnerability to degradation. Population increased in moderately vulnerable areas but decreased in highly vulnerable areas. The policy implications of these results are discussed.
Article
This paper illustrates an example of ‘early warning’ assessment of sensitivity to land degradation (LD) over Italy by monitoring changes of its main determinants during a long-term period (1960–2008) and by providing a short-term evaluation for 2015. These objectives were gained (i) by analysing trends of several climate, vegetation, and land use variables, regarded as the main underlying factors to LD, (ii) by calculating the standard Environmental Sensitive Area Index (ESAI) in 1960, 1990, 2000 and 2008, and (iii) by projecting the ESAI changes in the near future. An evident increase in the number and extent of areas sensitive to LD was observed during the last fifty years in southern Italy. Interestingly, the reduction of rainfall amounts, together with increasing population density and agricultural intensification, are leading northern Italy to a high level of sensitivity too. The applicability of the ESA scheme to a permanent monitoring of LD sensitivity in the Mediterranean landscape was discussed for improvements at the regional scale.
Article
The sensitivity map to desertification of Eastern Algeria (Aures region) has been elaborated by the crossing of four thematic layers (vegetation, climate, soil and the socioeconomic states), which have the main impact on the evolutionary process of desertification. The followed methodology is inspired from the desertification model MEDALUS (Mediterranean Desertification And Land Use), which use qualitative index to define the land zones sensitive to desertification. Cartographical information of vegetation, climate variation, soil and the socioeconomic states obtained from cartographic data were transformed to numerical data then seized on, structured and managed by an algorithm dedicated to a geographical information system. Moreover, ALSAT-1 satellite images, geologic and soil maps were used as main sources for calculating the index of Environmental Sensitivity Areas (ESAI) for desertification. Besides, the main goal of this study is to identify places with different sensitivity to land degradation in Aures region (East Algeria) by means of a modeling approach developed in the European Commission funded MEDALUS project, which identifies such areas on the basis of an index (ESA index, Environmental Sensitive Area index) in which environmental quality (climate, vegetation, soil) as well as anthropogenic factors (management) are included as weighted layers.
Article
Desertification is a major environmental issue that is the focus of a recent UN convention (the CCD) that aims to improve the resolution of the problem.Desertification is however not a straight forward issue and has many controversial dimensions, in part due to confusion over its definition, extent, characteristics and causes. Many difficulties have arisen at the interface between science, politics and decision makers. From a scientific perspective, these problems have been a result of the speed of scientific research, the way in which scientifc ideas evolve, the manner in which data have been selectively used and, in parts of the developing world, becasue of perceived links between science and colonisation. It is argued that despite these problems that create an uneasy interface between science and politics, desertification can not be tackled from political and social directions alone.Science has a real role to play in combating desertification, particularly in the light of CCD goals. This role includes retaining the clarity of the issue, identifying environmental responses to human disturbances, monitoring the extent of desretifcation, and identifying appropriate scales of remedial action.
Article
The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) is now widely used throughout the world in both a research and an operational mode. For arid climates, or those with a distinct dry season where zero values are common, the SPI at short time scales is lower bounded, referring to non-normally distributed in this study. In these cases, the SPI is always greater than a certain value and fails to indicate a drought occurrence. The nationwide statistics based on our study suggest that the non-normality rates are closely related to local precipitation climates. In the eastern United States, SPI values at short time scales can be used in drought/flood monitoring and research in any season, while in the western United States, because of its distinct seasonal precipitation distribution, the appropriate usage and interpretation of this index becomes complicated. This would also be the case for all arid climates. From a mathematical point of view, the non-normally distributed SPI is caused by a high probability of no-rain cases represented in the mixed distribution that is employed in the SPI construction. From a statistical point of view, the 2-parameter gamma model used to estimate the precipitation probability density function and the limited sample size in dry areas and times would also reduce the confidence of the SPI values. On the basis of the results identified within this study, we recommend that the SPI user be cautious when applying short-time-scale SPIs in arid climatic regimes, and interpret the SPI values appropriately. In dry climates, the user should focus on the duration of the drought rather than on just its severity. It is also worth noting that the SPI results from a statistical product of the input data. This character makes it difficult to link the SPI data to the physical functioning of the Earth system. Copyright
Article
Environmental policy and planning problems are inherently complex societal problems whose solution requires the deployment of particular combinations of environmental and human resources to achieve sustainable socio-spatial development. Resources are subject, however, to diverse resource regimes. A stumbling block in devising and implementing solutions is the variance between actual resource regimes and those associated with proposed plans and policies as well as the possibility of combining them optimally. The paper explores how the institutional setting—the numerous and diverse actors and resource regimes involved—affects the output and outcomes of the principal stages of the policy and planning process, it offers proposals for institutional change and it suggests future research directions. Desertification control is analyzed as an illustrative example of a domain where institutional complexity is pronounced and crucial for the feasibility and effectiveness of policy and planning interventions.
Article
Regional Drought can be assessed through various meaningfulprocedures mainly related to the expected consequences. However, a general knowledge of the occurrence of drought, thearea which is affected, its severity and its duration are ofgreat importance for a series of decisions, which may beappropriate for a variety of activities. From the existingsimple and popular indices used for the estimation of drought,the Standardised Precipitation Index, known as SPI, seems to winuniversal applicability. A method based on the estimation of SPIover a geographical area and its use for characterising drought,is presented in this paper. Applications of the method arepresented using a digital terrain model and a simple computercalculating routine. It is shown that the proposed procedurecan be easily applied and can support a Drought Watch System foran area of mesoscale dimensions.
Article
Important land parameters such as soil texture, soil depth, topography, parent material, and climatic conditions were studied in a semi-detailed soil survey conducted in the island of Lesvos, and were related to the vegetation performance and degree of erosion. Rainfall data indicated that the island could be divided into two major climatic zones: a semi-arid (western part) and a dry sub-humid (eastern part). A 45% rainfall gradient has been recorded in the above two climatic zones. The great reduction in rainfall combined with the higher evapotranspiraton demands in the semi-arid zone has significantly affected vegetation performance and degree of erosion in the area. Due to the general lack of available water, the semi-arid part of the island is dominated by poor maquis vegetation, while olive trees, oak and pine forests prevail in the dry sub-humid part under similar topographical and geomorphological conditions. Vegetation cover increases with increasing rainfall and soil depth. Slope grade has a variable effect on soil erosion in the various climatic zones. Erosion is decreasing with increasing rainfall for the same slope classes. Severely eroded soils prevail in the semi-arid zone with slopes greater than 12%, while slightly to moderately eroded soils are found in the dry sub-humid zone under similar slope classes. The highest rates of land degradation have been measured in areas with soils formed on pyroclastic formations. Areas with soils formed on basic igneous rocks, shale and lava are well vegetated and protected from erosion under a broad range of slopes and weather conditions.
Article
Despite the seriousness of the environmental and socio-economic impacts of desertification, few efforts have been made to devise diagnostic and monitoring techniques for appraising the status and trend of desertification. Indicators are integrated and synthetic information that can provide data on threshold levels, status and evolution of relevant physical, chemical, biological and anthropogenic processes. Existing studies have taken a global perspective, and most have dealt with rangeland conditions. Moreover, the zones usually studied have included countries whose socio-economic and cultural backgrounds differ from those prevailing in Europe. This paper presents a methodology and discussion of indicator requirements, selection and definition, procedures for measuring or making estimates, sensitivity, range of values and interactions. Emphasizing the need to use indicators to develop a system of desertification evaluation, this paper outlines the advantages and difficulties of using such an evaluation system.
Article
The effect of land use change, from arable to abandoned pasture, on soil properties and vegetation establishment was studied in hilly areas of the island of Lesvos. The main purpose of this study was to establish key indicators or land parameters that can be used for defining environmentally sensitive areas to desertification. 106 soil sites were selected in fields cultivated or non-cultivated for 40–45 years and measurements related to protection from land degradation after abandonment, such as fertility status (organic matter content, pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC), exchangeable potassium and sodium), water storage capacity (soil water retention characteristics, soil depth), erosion resistance (soil aggregate stability), and vegetation characteristics (plant species, extent of vegetation cover) were conducted. The selected sites were located on a variety of parent materials such as volcanic lava, pyroclastics, ignimbrite, schist-marble, and shale. The obtained data indicated that soil pH, and CEC were slightly affected after abandonment as compared to the cultivated soils. Levels of exchangeable sodium and potassium were higher in cultivated soils. Organic matter content and soil aggregate stability were greatly enhanced in most of the abandoned soils. Physical characteristics of the parent material greatly influenced the establishment of the natural vegetation. A critical minimum soil depth of 25–30 cm was measured. On more shallow soils, the associated natural perennial vegetation cover was rapidly reduced, under the prevailing climatic conditions of the study area. Reduction of vegetation cover was related to the parent material. Perennial vegetation was not supported at all on soils below a crucial depth, ranging from 4 to 10 cm, depending on the parent material. This study showed that soil depth is the most important parameter which has to be considered in planning land use change from arable to unmanaged pasture under the soil and climatic conditions of the study area.
Article
This paper presents a state-of-the-art review of the use of expert systems in land-use planning in general and site selection in particular. It focuses on the theoretical discussion of different types of computer-based systems (i.e. expert systems, decision support systems, integrated systems) and tries to assess the usefulness of each system for the urban planner.
Article
The quality of a site investigation campaign stands and falls with the quality of the preparatory desk study. This article presents a fuzzy expert system that improves conventional desk studies. The evaluation process is referred to as a “multi-temporal desk study” (MTDS) and is similar to the conventional approach, falling back on existing maps, building permits, production data and aerial photos. As backward-looking appraisal it documents the spatio-functional and temporal changes of degraded terrain with regard to physico-chemical hazards present in the form of soil and groundwater contamination. The fuzzy approach differs from the conventional desk study in that it incorporates the semiotic-interpretative character of a MTDS in a rigid mathematical framework that is based on fuzzy set theory. By doing so, the interpretative grey zone inherent to all hazard assessments becomes more transparent and – above all – is not lost or forced into a inflexible “yes–no” or “1/0” scheme. The fuzzy expert system (FES) increases the quality of the desk study and reduces the costs for field campaigning, lab analyses and remediation work. The validity of the approach was confirmed by comparing a hazard map for a degraded harbour terrain produced by means of the FES with a hazard map reflecting ground truth based on a traditional field campaign. For the fuzzy analysis the only source of information were official building permits and aerial photographs taken at different time steps.
Article
Due to the complexity of irrigation management problems, reliance on experience and experts is necessary for effective decision-making in this domain. Expert systems (ES) are efficient means for providing decision support to tasks that primarily require experience-based knowledge. This paper reviews the adoptability and suitability of ES applications in the domain of irrigation management. Core concepts of ES are briefly discussed. A detailed review of the existing applications of ES is presented under three classes of ES applications: (a) expert systems proper, (b) intelligent front-ends, and (c) hybrid systems. This review of literature shows that the ES approach is applied more recently to broader domain areas in contrast to the earlier systems that were focused on narrower domain problems. Additional research on ES application to domains such as real-time irrigation scheduling, reservoir operation involving stochastic nature of inflows and evapotranspiration demand, and integrated operation of irrigation system components is needed to evolve guidelines for optimal water use. The problem of handling multiple experts to evolve decisions that are less biased than an individual expert needs to be addressed. A methodology that takes into account the uncertainty of the ES decisions is also warranted. Further, there is a need for practical evaluation of the quality of recommendations made by the ES which would result in the successful implementation of the ES.
Article
As soil is a natural resource not always renewable, the risk characterization of contaminated soils is an issue of great interest. Artificial Intelligence (AI), based on Decision Support Systems (DSSs), has been developed for a wide range of applications in contaminated soil management. Decision trees have already shown to be easy to interpret and able to treat large scale applications. Fuzzy logic gives an improvement in the perturbations and the variance of the training data, due to the elasticity of fuzzy set formalism. In this study, we have developed a classificatory tool applied to characterize contaminated soil in function of human and environmental risks. Knowledge engineering for constructing the Soil Risk Characterization Decision Support System (SRC-DSS) involves three stages: knowledge acquisition, conceptual design and system implementation. A total of 26 parameters were divided into three groups to facilitate the configuration of the expert system: source attributes, transfer vector attributes, and local properties. Sixteen case studies were evaluated with the SRC-DSS. In comparison with other techniques, the results of the current study have shown that SRC-DDS is an excellent tool to classify and characterize soils according to the associated risk.
Desertification information system to support National Action Programmes in the Mediterranean (DISMED). DIS4ME, Desertification Indicator System for Mediterranean Europe
  • J Brandt
  • N Geeson
Brandt, J., Geeson, N., 2005. Desertification information system to support National Action Programmes in the Mediterranean (DISMED). DIS4ME, Desertification Indicator System for Mediterranean Europe. Eur. Environ. Agency.
Combating desertification in Mediterranean Europe: linking science with stakeholders (No. European Commission Grant agreement
DESERTLINKS, 2004. Combating desertification in Mediterranean Europe: linking science with stakeholders (No. European Commission Grant agreement ID: EVK2-CT-2001-00109).
Desertification Mitigation and Remediation of land -a global approach for local solutions. (No. European Commission Grant agreement ID: 37046)
DESIRE, 2012. Desertification Mitigation and Remediation of land -a global approach for local solutions. (No. European Commission Grant agreement ID: 37046).
Desertification indicators for the European Mediterranean region: state of the art and possible methodological approaches. National Environmental Protection & Nucleo di Ricerca sulla Desertificazione
  • G Enne
  • C Zucca
Enne, G., Zucca, C., 2000. Desertification indicators for the European Mediterranean region: state of the art and possible methodological approaches. National Environmental Protection & Nucleo di Ricerca sulla Desertificazione, Università degli Studi di Sassar, Rome.
Indicators for Assessing Desertification in the Mediterranean
  • G Fierotti
  • C Zanchi
Fierotti, G., Zanchi, C., 1998. Agricultural practices and soil fertility degradation. In: Enne, G., D'Angelo, M., Zanolla, C. (Eds.), Indicators for Assessing Desertification in the Mediterranean. Proceedings of the International Seminar held in Porto Torres, Italy, 18-20 September 1998, pp. 101-115.
Evaluating the Desertification Risk Assessment Tool with experimental results
  • V Jetten
Jetten, V., 2012. Evaluating the Desertification Risk Assessment Tool with experimental results. URL: http://www.desire-his.eu/en/assessment-with-indicators/ desertification-risk-assessment/898-evaluatingthe-desertification-risk-assessmenttool-with-experimental-results (accessed 1.27.19).
Application of the Standardized Drought Vulnerability Index in the Lower South
  • C A Karavitis
  • P D Oikonomou
  • R M Waskom
  • D E Tsesmelis
  • C G Vasilakou
  • N A Skondras
  • D Stamatakos
  • S G Alexandris
  • N S Grigg
Karavitis, C.A., Oikonomou, P.D., Waskom, R.M., Tsesmelis, D.E., Vasilakou, C.G., Skondras, N.A., Stamatakos, D., Alexandris, S.G., Grigg, N.S., 2015. Application of the Standardized Drought Vulnerability Index in the Lower South Platte Basin, Colorado. In: AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference Proceedings. Presented at the AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference, Denver, CO.
Manual on: Key indicators of desertification and mapping environmentally sensitive areas to desertification
  • C Kosmas
  • M Kirkby
  • N Geeson
Kosmas, C., Kirkby, M., Geeson, N., 1999. Manual on: Key indicators of desertification and mapping environmentally sensitive areas to desertification (No. EUR 18882).
Word overview of conservation approaches and technologies. A Framework for Documentation and Evaluation of Land Conservation
  • H Liniger
  • G Schwilch
  • M Gurtner
  • R Mekdaschi Struder
  • G Van Lynden
  • W Critchley
Liniger, H., Schwilch, G., Gurtner, M., Mekdaschi Struder, R., Van Lynden, G., Critchley, W., 2007. Word overview of conservation approaches and technologies. A Framework for Documentation and Evaluation of Land Conservation.