Understanding human‐environment relationships from the perspective of soil-derived ecosystem services in the Mediterranean Basin

Project description: 
Agricultural ecosystems provide a variety of ecosystem services to humans as food, forage, bioenergy and pharmaceuticals essential to human wellbeing. Sustainable land management implies maintaining or increasing Ecosystem Services which is a big challenge for agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin. Organic carbon in soil influences numerous properties relevant to ecosystem functioning and crop growth. Soil degradation is a major threat to the sustainability of Mediterranean’s land resources and may impair the ability of Mediterranean agriculture to adapt successfully to climate change. Soils in the basin are currently experiencing a range of conservation problems, including high erosion rates (and erosion-derived agro-chemical pollution of waterways), declines in soil organic matter, and vulnerability of soil organic carbon pools. For this reasons in this project we will try to understand the role of soils for sustainable ecosystem services in the Mediterranean Basin. Furthermore we will analyze the relationship among agriculture/biodiversity/soil-derived ecosystem services and possible trade-offs or synergies among them in the basin. Using soil erosion and topsoil organic carbon data we will propose a possible methodology for targeting areas of suitable policy measures to halt the loss of key soil-derived ecosystem services due to soil erosion. We hope that our work might be helpful to guide the decision-maker in the future multiscale environmental management in the Mediterranean region.