Increasing land use pressure is a primary force for degradation of agricultural areas. The drivers for these pressures are initiated by a series of interconnected processes. This study presents a novel methodology to analyze drivers of changing land use pressure and the effects on society and landscape. The focus was on characterizing these drivers and relate them to land use statistics obtained from geospatial data from the important semiarid Merguellil Wadi between 1976 and 2016. Cause-and-effect relationships between different drivers of land use change were analyzed using the DPSIR approach. Results show that during the 40-year period cultivated land increased and wetland areas decreased substantially. Drivers for change were pressure from economic development, cultivation practices, and hydro-agricultural techniques. This leads to stress on water and soil resulting in soil erosion, poverty increase, and rural exodus. We show that hydro-agricultural techniques adapted to the semiarid climate, allocation of land property rights, resource allocation, and improved marketing of agricultural products can help rural residents to diversify their economy, and thus better preserve the fragile semiarid landscape. Results of this study can be used to ensure sustainable management of water and soil resources in areas with similar climate and socio-economic conditions.
This publication is part of the FASTER project.
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