Main content area

Land and farming system dynamics and their drivers in the Mediterranean Basin

Debolini, Marta, Marraccini, Elisa, Dubeuf, Jean Paul, Geijzendorffer, Ilse R., Guerra, Carlos, Simon, Marian, Targetti, Stefano, Napoléone, Claude
Land use policy 2018 v.75 pp. 702-710
agricultural land, annuals, case studies, crop production, economic factors, farming systems, mountains, rural areas, Mediterranean region
Given the heterogeneity and richness of Mediterranean farming systems, it is difficult to assess the nature and causes of observed dynamics based on single case studies. This research identifies case studies conducted on the north and south of the Mediterranean basin to provide a comprehensive overview of the current land and farming system dynamics and their main drivers. We analyze 80 papers published in international journals from 1985 to 2015. The studies vary in spatial scale, from 4 km2 in the case of peri-urban regions and small agricultural areas to more than 500,000 km2 in the case of national-based analyses. Most of the papers focus on mountainous rural areas, whereas only a few case studies are located in mixed regions or peri-urban inland regions. We analyze the farm trajectories behind the general dynamics to understand the ongoing processes at the agricultural level and their related drivers. Social and demographic drivers are indicated as particularly relevant for abandonment, which is frequently associated with intensification processes. Intensification dynamics are driven mainly by economic factors, which particularly affect annual crop production. Few papers analyze the dynamics of extensification and more research in this field is needed to understand this process and its eventual transition to the abandonment of agricultural areas. This analysis provides an opportunity for the exchange of ideas and information from a diverse range of disciplines and interest groups, which should be combined to formulate effective land use policies.