, Volume 70, Issue 2–3, pp 185–194 | Cite as

Territorial disparities, natural resource distribution, and land degradation: a case study in southern Europe

  • Luca Salvati
  • Marco Zitti


The aim of this paper is to analyse the territorial disparities in some socio-economic and environmental factors involved in land degradation (LD) processes in a dry Mediterranean region. A simplified framework in which ecological and economic factors may increase inequality in natural resource distribution along the elevation gradient and accelerate LD is illustrated. To test at a local scale if territorial disparities observed in such factors have increased in the last period, we studied changes in LD sensitivity over thirty years in Latium, central Italy, a region prone to soil degradation phenomena. An estimate of LD sensitivity at the municipality level was obtained through a synthetic index (ISD) composed by three partial indicators analysing respectively climate and soil conditions (CLI), land use characteristics (LAN), and human pressure (POP). ISD and the three partial indicators were computed separately for 1970 and 2000. The divergence in LD sensitivity among coastal and inland areas significantly increased over the study period. In the former zones, median ISD increased with a reduction in score variability among municipalities; the reverse pattern was observed in the latter zones. Differences in ISD score among the elevation gradient are especially due to human factors affecting land use changes and agriculture intensification. New findings to be achieved in the context of human impacts on the environment as an original contribution to the study of LD at a local scale were finally delineated.


Land degradation Territorial disparities Indicators Elevation gradient Latium Mediterranean basin 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.c/o Department of National Accounting and Analysis of Social ProcessesUniversity of Rome ‘Sapienza’RomeItaly
  2. 2.CRA-Central Office for Crop EcologyRomeItaly

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