Fig nbsp xA Average percent vegetation cover and

Research on land degradation, considered as the reduced potential of the land to provide TAI-1 services, has highlighted four main pillars, the role of which has undergone significant debate: (i) climate, (ii) vegetation, (iii) social processes and (iv) economic and political processes (Hermann and Hutchinson, 2005). Vegetation and land-use affected by social and economic changes over time are of paramount importance in controlling land degradation due to soil erosion and land desertification (David et al., 2014, Kaplan et al., 2014 and Kurothe et al., 2014). Interestingly, agricultural intensification (mechanization, extensive use of agro-chemicals and irrigation) was identified as one of the most relevant processes determining changes in the current use of land in rural areas of the southern Europe. A comprehensive knowledge of transformations in the use of land and in the prevailing land management practice transformations coupled with an in-depth monitoring of the evolution of the main land degradation processes at the local scale contributes to elaborate sustainable land management practices targeting the preservation of soil resources (Zalidis et al., 2002, Novara et al., 2011 and Quaranta and Salvia, 2014).