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Much More than Simply “Desertification”: Understanding Agricultural Sustainability and Change in the Mediterranean

Part of the Springer Earth System Sciences book series (SPRINGEREARTH)

Abstract

In the socio-economic and climatic complexity of a Mediterranean environment, desertification involves many processes and is much more spatio-temporally sophisticated than is often suggested by both the policy and academic communities. Here we examine the spatial variability of the Mediterranean environment and its agriculture—a supposed key driver of desertification in the region. We examine trends in agricultural production and climate in the region and the differences between north and south. We review the recent history of Mediterranean desertification research and its changing policy context. In particular, we examine the evidence for Mediterranean desertification, and what we now understand of it, with the hindsight of three decades of research and having ‘come out of the other side’ of decadal drought events that prompted large-scale concern over the desertification of Mediterranean Europe in the 1990 s. We focus particularly on the spatial heterogeneity of the Mediterranean and the implications of this heterogeneity for understanding perceived desertification in the region, and explore implications for land use and management policy-making, indicating the need for a much more locally nuanced approach.

Keywords

  • Desertification
  • Land degradation
  • Europe
  • Mediterranean
  • Heterogeneity
  • Policy

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Notes

  1. 1.

    WaterWorld is a modelling platform containing a range of global databases and the capacity to run detailed algorithms at scales from local through to continental. It is available free for non-commercial use from www.policysupport.org.

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Mulligan, M., Burke, S., Ogilvie, A. (2016). Much More than Simply “Desertification”: Understanding Agricultural Sustainability and Change in the Mediterranean. In: Behnke, R., Mortimore, M. (eds) The End of Desertification? . Springer Earth System Sciences. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-16014-1_16

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