iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Estimating the sensitivity to desertification of Italian forests

Riccardo Salvati (1), Luca Salvati (2)   , Piermaria Corona (3), Anna Barbati (1), Agostino Ferrara (4)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 287-294 (2015)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1111-008
Published: Aug 26, 2014 - Copyright © 2015 SISEF

Research Articles

The present study assesses the level of sensitivity to desertification of forest types in Italy between 2000 and 2010 on a fine resolution scale using the Environmental Sensitive Area (ESA) scheme. The proposed methodology identifies and ranks the level of sensitivity of fourteen forest types and quantifies the changes in their level of sensitivity over time as a contribution to understanding of complex landscape-forest interactions in Mediterranean ecosystems. Only few forest types showed a relatively high sensitivity level, suggesting that forests may positively contribute to the mitigation of land degradation processes in the Mediterranean region. Forest types showing the highest sensitivity are native types mostly adapted to dry Mediterranean landscapes, introduced vegetation types and highly-fragmented and heterogeneous forest types. Results suggest that: (i) high-quality and biodiversity-rich forest types (e.g., beech, mountain pine forests) may act as vegetation buffer mitigating the increase of land sensitivity to desertification at the landscape scale; and (ii) the remaining forest types (especially highly fragmented, low-quality or low-biodiversity classes in areas with severe soil and climate conditions) may undergo increases in land sensitivity to desertification and should be protected through specific management measures as also implemented in the framework of the National Action Plans to Combat Desertification.


Environmental Indicators, ESAI, Desertification, Forests, Mediterranean Basin, Climate, Soil

Authors’ address

Riccardo Salvati
Anna Barbati
Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-food and Forest Systems, University of Tuscia, v. S. Camillo de Lellis, I-01100 Viterbo (Italy)
Luca Salvati
Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Center for the Study of Plant-Soil Interactions (CRA-RPS), v. della Navicella 2-4, I-00184 Rome (Italy)
Piermaria Corona
Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Forestry Research Centre (CRA-SEL), v.le S. Margherita 80, I-52100 Arezzo (Italy)
Agostino Ferrara
School of Agricultural, Forest, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Basilicata, v. dell’Ateneo Lucano 10, I-85100 Potenza (Italy)

Corresponding author

Luca Salvati


Salvati R, Salvati L, Corona P, Barbati A, Ferrara A (2015). Estimating the sensitivity to desertification of Italian forests. iForest 8: 287-294. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1111-008

Academic Editor

Emanuele Lingua

Paper history

Received: Aug 22, 2013
Accepted: May 06, 2014

First online: Aug 26, 2014
Publication Date: Jun 01, 2015
Publication Time: 3.73 months

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