Dept. Crop Systems, Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Via Ateneo Lucano, 10 University of Basilicata, Potenza, Italy.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy
Institute of Sustainable Resources, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. Arizona University, Maricopa Agricultural Center, W. Smith-Enke Road, 37860, Maricopa, Arizona
Dip. Tecnico-Economico, Gestione Territorio, Via Ateneo Lucano, 10 University of Basilicata, Potenza, Italy
GIS centre, Feng Chia University, Dept of Land Management, FCU campus. Taichung, Taiwan, Rep. of China
The main factors affecting environmental sensitivity to degradation are soil, vegetation, climate
and management, through either their intrinsic characteristics or by their interaction on the landscape. Different levels of degradation risks may be observed in response to particular combinations of the aforementioned factors. For instance, the combination of inappropriate management practices and intrinsically weak soil conditions will result in a severe degradation of the environment, while the combination of the same type of management with better soil conditions may lead to negligible degradation.The aim of this study was to identify factors and their impact on land degradation processes in three areas of the Basilicata region (southern
Italy) using a procedure that couples environmental indices, GIS and crop-soil simulation models. Areas prone to desertification were first identified using the Environmental Sensitive Areas (ESA) procedure. An analysis for identifying the weight that each of the contributing factor (climate, soil, vegetation, management) had on the ESA was carried out using GIS techniques. The SALUS model was successfully executed to identify the management practices that could lead to better soil conditions to enhance land use sustainability. The best management practices were found to be those that minimized soil disturbance and increased soil organic carbon. Two alternative scenarios with improved soil quality and subsequently improving soil water holding capacity were used as mitigation measures. The ESA were recalculated and the effects of the mitigation measures suggested by the model were assessed. The new ESA showed a significant reduction on land degradation.