Evolutionary Dynamics in Mediterranean Landscapes: The Changes in Forests and Semi-Natural Areas in the Iberian Peninsula – A Study From 1990-2018

Evolutionary Dynamics in Mediterranean Landscapes: The Changes in Forests and Semi-Natural Areas in the Iberian Peninsula – A Study From 1990-2018

José Manuel Naranjo Gómez (Polytechnic School, University of Extremadura, Spain), Rui Alexandre Castanho (WSB University, Poland) and Luís Loures (Valoriza, Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7391-4.ch001
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The specific richness and value of Mediterranean landscapes require a robust, well-defined, and comprehensive conservation strategy planning. Therefore, and considering the relevance of the topic in the light of the sustainability concept, those planning strategies should be based and sustained by many different studies and fields in order to provide a full view of the issue. Contextually, the present study through the use of geographic information systems (GIS) tools and methods allows addressing the evolution of forest and semi-natural areas in the Iberian Peninsula in the last three decades. With this study it was possible to verify that the land uses related to forests and semi-natural areas suffered many changes – increasing and decreasing periods; in fact, some of the reducing is concerning and should have a closer look by the territorial government authorities to give protection and conservation to this unique Mediterranean landscapes and environments.
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Mediterranean Landscapes And Sustainable Conservation Strategies

The Mediterranean basin extends for more than 3000 km from East to West, from the outrageous of Portugal to the shore of Lebanon, and around 1000 km from north to south, from Italy to Morocco and Libya. Also, in the European Union (EU), the Mediterranean Region covers seven member states: Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain (EC, 2010).

The Mediterranean region is the number one tourist destination in the world (EC, 2010). As a result, a large part of the Mediterranean coastline has disappeared under the concrete (Cantos, and Vera-Rebollo, 2016; Castanho et al., 2017). There is a constant threat of forest fires, as well as chronic water shortages. Inland, much of the former pastoral activity is being abandoned, as it is no longer economically viable (EC, 2020).

Considering the intense anthropic pressure in these regions, the Mediterranean forest was strongly affected (Zdruli et al., 2011). The complexity of the vegetation structure is also a reason for the exceptional richness of these areas in wildlife, especially in plants and insects (Attenborough, 1987; Cabezas et al., 2002; Rivas-Martínez, et al., 2007; Noce, et al., 2018; Raposo et al., 2018). According to the European Commission (2010): “Although the Mediterranean forest is characteristic of the region, it is by no means the only species-rich habitat in the region. Many areas continue to be dominated by large stretches of natural forests, practically intact, which remain relatively untouched by man”. Unlike most forests in central and northern Europe, where a few dozen tree species dominate, Mediterranean forests are much more diverse (Rivas-Martínez, et al., 2007; EC, 2010). The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) states that the Mediterranean Basin represents one of the hot spots of biodiversity on a global scale with a rich endemic flora (WWF, 2000).

In the opinion of the Oteros (2014), the olives trees could be used as bio-indicator to realize the boundaries of the Mediterranean basin influence (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Boundaries of the Mediterranean basin based on olive trees as a bio-indicator.

Source: Oteros, 2014.

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