The magnitude of the environmental and social consequences of soil erosion and land degradation in semiarid areas of the Mediterranean region has long been recognized and studied. This paper investigates the interrelationship between land use/cover (LULC) changes and land degradation using remotely sensed and ancillary data for southeastern Spain. The area of study, the Xaló River catchment situated in the north of the Alicante Province, has been subjected to a number of LULC changes during the second half of the 20th century such as agricultural abandonment, forest fires, and tourist development. Aerial photographs dating back to 1956 were used for the delineation of historic LULC types; Landsat ETM+ data were used for the analysis and mapping of current conditions. Two important indicators of land degradation, namely, susceptibility to surface runoff and soil erosion, were estimated for the two dates using easily parametrizable models. The comparison of 1956 to 2000 conditions shows an overall “recuperating” trend over the catchment and increased susceptibility to soil erosion only in 3% of the catchment area. The results also identify potential degradation hot-spots where mitigation measures should be taken to prevent further degradation. The readily implemented methodology, based on modest data requirements demonstrated by this study, is a useful tool for catchment to regional scale land use change and land degradation studies and strategic planning for environmental management.
Auteurs et éditeurs
Throughout the world, we provide scientific and professional communities with superior specialist information – produced by authors and colleagues across cultures in a nurtured collegial atmosphere of which we are justifiably proud.
We foster communication among our customers – researchers, students and professionals – enabling them to work more efficiently, thereby advancing knowledge and learning. Our dynamic growth allows us to invest continually all over the world.