What are the effects of land abandonment in the Mediterranean?

Through a literature review, our researcher Cristina Quintas-Soriano, from the SociECOSLab research group (UAL), together with researchers from Germany Tobias Plieninger (University of Kassel and University of Göttingen) and Andreas Buerkert (University of Kassel), have published their new scientific findings in the article entitled "Effects of land abandonment on nature contributions to people and good quality of life components in the Mediterranean region: A review".

Land abandonment, defined as the vacating of any area used for agricultural purposes, including cropland and grazing areas, is an increasingly widespread process worldwide, but is particularly important in the Mediterranean region. This phenomenon is mainly driven by socioeconomic factors, such as rural migration to areas offering new economic opportunities.

Land abandonment can have positive or negative consequences, depending on whether it promotes or undermines the provision of nature's contributions to people (benefits we derive from nature for our well-being) or good quality of life. Examples of positive evidence are that land abandonment can support ecological restoration, increase carbon storage or improve habitat quality, but there is also negative evidence on biodiversity and the loss of specific contributions derived from traditional agricultural landscapes, such as reduced water availability, increased soil erosion, and increased risk of wildfires.

At present, there is no scientific consensus on the most appropriate management of abandoned lands, so understanding the processes of change is essential for making reasonable decisions on which land uses to pursue or promote, and which to discourage or abandon.

For all these reasons, this paper reviewed the published evidence on the effects of land abandonment on the contributions of nature and the components of good quality of life in the Mediterranean region, with the aim of synthesizing the effects of land abandonment on the ecological and social dimensions.

A great work that gives to know a little more of this complex process.

The article is open access and can be consulted in its entirety at the following link.

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