The relationship between population dynamics and desertification risk in advanced economies is increasingly dependent on the mutual interplay of socioeconomic forces at regional and local scales. Assuming that specific, long-term demographic dynamics are associated with a given level of desertification risk, the present study investigates population trends between 1861 and 2017 and the spatial linkage with the level of desertification risk in Southern Italy, a European region where more than 20 % of land is exposed to degradation processes. Areas classified at the highest risk of desertification experienced intense population growth between 1951 and 1981. Reflecting the latest stage of the first demographic transition in Italy, such dynamics have caused an increasing human pressure on coastal districts, peri-urban areas and flat rural land. Since the early 1980s, population growth was less intense and more heterogeneous over space. Such dynamics led to a discontinuous urban expansion and the formation of a ‘third space’ – neither urban nor rural – with a consequent increase in the rate of land take. These outcomes, typical of the early stage of the second demographic transition, were mostly uncorrelated with the level of desertification risk. The spatial association between population dynamics and desertification risk characteristic of the first demographic transition in Southern Italy outlines the importance of regional developmental policies aimed at rebalancing territorial disparities for land degradation mitigation in the Mediterranean region.
Population trends and desertification risk in a Mediterranean region, 1861-2017 / Benassia, Federico; Cividino, Sirio; Cudlin, Pavel; Alhuseen, Ahmed; RICCIARDO LAMONICA, Giuseppe; Salvati, Luca. - In: LAND USE POLICY (ONLINE). - ISSN 1873-5754. - ELETTRONICO. - 95:(2020). [10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.104626]