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Understanding natural and anthropogenic causes of desertification in the Mediterranean basin


To produce "policy-relevant" methods of diagnosis and analysis of
imminent and potential threats to the environment, involving loss
of sustainability through land degradation and desertification.

A comparison between four regions representing a number of
different conditions under which degradation and desertification
have occurred and are likely to occur with different intensities
will be made. An Integrated Evolutionary (complex systems)
Framework for the evolution and understanding of the social,
political and environmental factors contributing to environmental
degradation and potential desertification, will be then
developed. The following case-studies are selected.

The Vera Basin, in Southeastern Spain, is badly degraded to the
point that badlands dominate and very little vegetation is left.
Here, studies will be undertaken to develop methods to look at
the temporalities in the physical and anthropogenic processes
involved in a succession of phases of
degradation/desertification, with a view to a better
understanding of the concept sustainability.

The Argolid in the Southern Peloponnese in Greece, is an area
where water (mis)management is responsible for the spectre of
rapid and total degradation in the vary near future. This study
focuses on human decision-making on the micro-scale, and notably
on the dynamics between short-term and long-term perception and
decision- making in the context of the choice between individual
advantage and the common good. Here, dynamical models of
hydrology and water management of present-day farmers'perceptions
and decision making with respect to water management, which can
serve to help policy implementation will be developed.

Epirus, in the Northwest Greece, is a region in which the
differential impact of tectonics plays and where the difference
between long-term and short-term processes comes to the force
from an environmental perspective. Here, studies on long-term
local climate/erosion sequence will be undertaken and a dynamical
model of the tectonics of the area, and their relation to land
use, degradation and desertification will be developed.

In the southern part of the Rhône Basin in France, a region is
studied which is potentially, but not actually, affected by
degradation and possibly desertification to a great extent as a
result of a recent macro-scale expansion of tourism, industry and
transport. Here, the study will be focused on identifying
perceived environmental factors influencing sustainable
locational choices under different (past) exploitation regimes in
the area. A GIS map, identifying degradation-sensitive areas
under different climatological regimes, and a qualitative
dynamical model identifying some of the main factors involved in
urban development and the consequent anthropogenic environmental
degradation will be also produced.

Call for proposal

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University of Cambridge
EU contribution
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Downing Street
CB2 3EZ Cambridge
United Kingdom

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Total cost
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Participants (7)