Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 767–777 | Cite as

Socioeconomic development and vulnerability to land degradation in Italy

  • Luca Salvati
  • Alberto ManciniEmail author
  • Sofia Bajocco
  • Roberta Gemmiti
  • Margherita Carlucci
Original Article


In recent years, the surface area affected by land degradation (LD) has significantly increased in southern European regions where the socioeconomic development has been proposed as a basic factor underlying the degree of vulnerability to LD. This paper investigates the correlation between several socioeconomic indicators and the level of vulnerability to LD in Italy, expressed as changes (1990–2000) in a composite index of land vulnerability (ΔLVI). The analysis was carried out over 784 local districts. The impact of per capita value added, agricultural intensity, industrial and tourism concentration, and urban growth was separately tested on ΔLVI. Results indicate that a lower district value added, crop intensification, irrigation, and the level of land vulnerability to degradation are strongly associated with the increasing level of land vulnerability over time, highlighting the role of the socioeconomic development as a main process underlying LD. In this framework, spatially equitable sustainable development may represent the effective strategy to mitigate the detrimental effects of economic growth and regional disparities on Mediterranean LD.


Land degradation Vulnerability Socioeconomic indicators Sustainable development Local district Mediterranean region 



This study was carried out in the framework of the Italian Project “Agroscenari”—Adaptation Scenarios of Italian Agriculture to Climate Changes.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Salvati
    • 1
  • Alberto Mancini
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sofia Bajocco
    • 3
  • Roberta Gemmiti
    • 4
  • Margherita Carlucci
    • 5
  1. 1.Italian Council of Agricultural ResearchResearch Centre for Plant-Soil SystemsRomeItaly
  2. 2.c/o Centre for Economic and International Studies—CEIS‘Tor Vergata’ University of RomeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Italian Council of Agricultural ResearchResearch Unit of Climatology and Meteorology Applied to AgricultureRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of Geographical, Linguistic, Statistical, Historical Studies for Regional Analysis, Faculty of Economics‘Sapienza’ University of RomeRomeItaly
  5. 5.Department of Economics, Faculty of Statistics‘Sapienza’ University of RomeRomeItaly

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