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Kosmas C.,Agricultural University of Athens | Kairis O.,Agricultural University of Athens | Karavitis C.,Agricultural University of Athens | Acikalin S.,Eskiehir Osmangazi University | And 48 more authors.
Catena | Year: 2015

The abandonment of land is a global problem with environmental and socioeconomic implications. An approach to assess the relationship between land abandonment and a large set of indicators was illustrated in the present study by using data collected in the framework of the European Union DESIRE research project from 808 field sites located in 10 study sites in the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. A total of 48 indicators provided information for biophysical conditions and socioeconomic characteristics measured at the plot level. The selected indicators refer to farm characteristics (family status, land tenure, present and previous types of land-use, soil depth, slope gradient, tillage operations) and to site-specific characteristics including annual rainfall, rainfall seasonality and water availability. Classes were designated for each indicator and a sensitivity score was assigned to each class based on existing research or empirically assessing the importance of each indicator to the land abandonment issue. Questionnaires for each process of land degradation were prepared and data were collected at field site level in collaboration with land users. Based on correlation statistics and multivariate analyses more than ten indicators out of 48 resulted as significant in affecting land abandonment in the studied field sites. Among them, the most important were rainfall seasonality, elderly index, land fragmentation, farm size, selected soil properties, and the level of policy implementation. Results contribute to the development of appropriate tools for assessing the effectiveness of land management practices for contrasting land abandonment. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source


Kairis O.,Agricultural University of Athens | Kosmas C.,Agricultural University of Athens | Karavitis C.,Agricultural University of Athens | Ritsema C.,Wageningen University | And 68 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2013

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. © 2013, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Source


Kosmas C.,Agricultural University of Athens | Kairis O.,Agricultural University of Athens | Karavitis C.,Agricultural University of Athens | Ritsema C.,Wageningen University | And 68 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2013

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. © 2013, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Source

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