Written by specialist and regional contributors, this invaluable book provides an integrated, up-to-date, geographical assessment of land degradation in the world's Mediterranean regions. Land degradation is the alteration of the natural (or biophysical) environment by human actions, causing detrimental effects to the vegetation, soils, landforms, water and ecosystems. Part One of this book comprises a brief geography of the Mediterranean climate regions - the Mediterranean basin, California, central Chile, the Southwest Cape and Southern Australia, providing a context for Parts Two and Three. The second section discusses the nature, extent, history, causes and implications of land degradation in the regions. Major problems include soil, vegetation and water degradation, fire, drought, flooding and sedimentation. Historical and contemporary human responses to these problems are also considered and at times become part of the problem.
Solutions - actual and potential - are evaluated in the third section and include those dealing with animals, cultivation, horticulture, engineering-type practices, agroforestry, whole farm planning, integrated catchment management and regional planning. Throughout there is an emphasis on the distinctive nature of the Mediterranean-type environments - especially the seasonally, hot, dry climates, the species-rich and highly inflammable vegetation, steep topography and coastal orientations - and the ways in which these environments interact with human populations with their contrasting histories and cultures to result in a special set of environmental problems and response.
Arthur J. ConacherUniversity of Western Australia, Australia and Maria Sala University of Barcelona, Spain