Hillslope degradation in representative Italian areas: Just soil erosion risk or opportunity for development?

Chiara Cappadonia, Christian Conoscenti, Pierluigi Brandolini, Antonella Marsico, Andrea Cevasco, Francesca Vergari, Giacomo Pepe, Domenico Capolongo, Maurizio Del Monte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In recent years, much research have dealt with the impact of human and climate change on the morpho-evolution of Mediterranean catchments characterized by high ecological and cultural value. In this paper, we speculated how humans can influence hillslope degradation by reviewing the relationships between denudation processes and land use changes in some representative areas located in different Italian regions (i.e., Liguria, Tuscany, Basilicata, and Sicily). The selected study cases are characterized by different climatic and geological features, land use, and land management and can be considered indicative of the hillslope degradation issues that affected the Apennines during the last century. We compared and discussed the main outcomes from previous studies, with the aim of identifying the main drivers leading to hillslope degradation and to shed light on the role of human action. We revealed that hillslope degradation can be mainly related to deforestation for land reclamation, cropland abandonment, and the increase of hazardous rainfall. Moreover, we focused on how human impact can have both positive and negative feedbacks. In some cases (e.g., badlands), the land levelling has produced an initial inhibition of land degradation, whereas after intensive agricultural practices, accelerated soil depletion has occurred, favouring erosion processes. Analogously, terracing controlled erosion as long as the entire terrace system was maintained, but abandoned terraced slopes can increase the magnitude of geo-hydrological phenomena in response to high-intensity rainfall. On-the-other-hand, both rural landscape and related erosional landforms can be appreciated as elements of landscape diversity and contribute to tourism development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3050-3068
Number of pages19
JournalLAND DEGRADATION & DEVELOPMENT
Volume29
Publication statusPublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Development
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Soil Science

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  • Cite this

    Cappadonia, C., Conoscenti, C., Brandolini, P., Marsico, A., Cevasco, A., Vergari, F., Pepe, G., Capolongo, D., & Del Monte, M. (2018). Hillslope degradation in representative Italian areas: Just soil erosion risk or opportunity for development? LAND DEGRADATION & DEVELOPMENT, 29, 3050-3068.