Land Degradation: Socioeconomic And Environmental Causes And Consequences In The Eastern Mediterranean
Published 2012 · Geology
Land degradation is a natural and socioeconomic cause–effect phenomenon that is widespread all over the world. This study investigated the socioeconomic factors and causes of land degradation (e.g. population growth and urbanization, poverty, overgrazing, pollution, biodiversity, erosion) in the eastern part of the Mediterranean region. The study revealed a significant land use change from agricultural and natural vegetation to urbanized areas due to the high population increase during the last ca. 80 years (51-times the magnitude of the total built-up area). The high poverty rate that exists in the area (57 per cent of the population can be classed as ‘poor’) has resulted in damaging environmental practices (overgrazing and intensive usage of natural plants); we found 83 per cent of the farmers admitted to the adoption of these practices. Poverty has also resulted in an inverse and significant correlation (at the 95 per cent confidence level) between holding size and the sale of land for urban uses. We also noted that 75 per cent of the smallholder farmers surveyed had sold their lands for immediate benefits to cope with poverty. This relation was affected by the education level of the farmers; we found a direct and significant (95 per cent confidence level) correlation existed between these factors. Overgrazing was practised by 70 per cent of the farmers and was found to be one of the most important environmental consequences of land use change (1600 ha have been transformed from natural grazing to built-up (urban) in the study area). Socio-economic induced land degradation demands efforts to improve farmer environmental awareness as well as environmental standards, laws and bylaws and the reduction of mismanagement of land. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.