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Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Soil degradation processes have achieved the recognition of a global environmental problem in recent years. It has been suggested by various international forums and organizations that in order to adequately establish methods to combat land degradation, it is necessary to evaluate this degradation locally and at a detailed scale. The evaluation of soil degradation of natural ecosystems at a detailed scale requires the definition of standards to which to compare this degradation. To define these standards and properly handle the processes that give rise to variations in soil quality and degradation, it is necessary to establish in some detail the pedogenic processes that have or have not taken place in a particular area and which lead to the formation of a mature soil. A mature soil should be considered as standard in these situations and, therefore, a non-degraded soil. This paper presents the possible evolutive and regressive sequences of soil, and provides some examples of using this methodology to evaluate the degradation of the same in the Monteverde of the island of Tenerife. It also presents some physical, chemical and mineralogical properties of climacic mature soils, degraded soils and low quality soils, and examines their similarities and differences in this bioclimatic environment and on different parent materials. Thus it is observed that the main processes of degradation in these areas are related to plant cover modifications that lead to the decreasing protection of the soil surface, which results in the long term, in the onset of degradation processes such as water erosion, biological degradation, loss of andic properties, compaction and sealing and crusting surface, loss of water retention capacity, illuviation, etc. Climacic soils that can be found in areas of steep lava flows are Leptosols, while gently sloping areas are Cambisols and Andosols. On pyroclastic materials there are vitric Andosols and andic Andosols according to their degree of evolution. The most characteristic regressive processes are illuviation/leaching, resulting in Luvisols, Lixisols and Alisols; and water erosion, causing the presence of secondary Leptosols. © 2015, Universia. All rights reserved. Source

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