Applied Simulation for Conservation of Semiarid Agroecosystems

M. López-Vicente, A. Navas, J. Machín, and B. Valero (Spain)


Erosion risk, desertification, land evaluation, resource management, semiarid steppe, and Northeast Spain.


The natural resources of soil and vegetation show severe degradation in the semiarid landscape of the Vedado area located near Zaragoza in central Ebro valley (NE Spain). The residual forest has undergone strong anthropogenic pressure including deforestation, overgrazing and extensive agriculture. These practices have increased seriously the risk of soil loss over the last decades. Nevertheless, the agrarian policy of the European Union encourages abandonment of the low productivity lands, and establishes the regulations for good agricultural practices. The MicroLEIS expert evaluation system linked to Idrisi GIS is applied to this area of 3700 ha, in an attempt to generate a map of erosion risk and to design suitable land uses. Map of slope gradients has been derived from a digital elevation model. The field survey data allowed to classify the soil types and to establish the land capability classes. Land evaluation indicates that the main limiting factors apart from climate are soil fragility, slope and soil erosion. In order to recover the natural vegetation and minimize the risk of desertification as well as to establish a strategy for suitable resource management, the areas surrounding the forest should be preserved and the more fragile areas should be left as set-aside lands.

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