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Agricultural abandonment and resilience in a Mediterranean periurban traditional agroecosystem: a landscape approach

María Vallés-Planells, Universitat Politècnica de València, Centro de Investigación Acuicultura y Medio Ambiente
Francisco Galiana, Universitat Politècnica de València, Centro de Investigación Acuicultura y Medio Ambiente
Ignacio Díez Torrijos, Universitat Politècnica de València


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Traditional cultural landscapes are experiencing strong changes. Abandonment is one of the most significant processes, especially since the last decades of the 20th century. From a resilience approach, it is believed that the preservation of these landscapes depends on their capacity to adapt to new challenges without altering their essential characteristics. Here, we assess the resilience of a traditional periurban agricultural landscape, Huerta de Valencia during the period 2008–2013, and use landscape character areas (LCAs) to allow a more comprehensive understanding of the spatial dimension of resilience. Our main goals are: (1) to estimate two dimensions of resilience of agricultural activity (persistence and adaptability) in the different LCAs that compose Huerta de Valencia, and (2) to analyze correlations between these two dimensions and a set of factors that may explain resilience behavior in Huerta de Valencia. Our results show the existence of different behavior patterns within the set of LCAs concerning resilience and suggest the importance of the initial landscape condition in terms of abandonment, land use, type of crop, and extent of people-place connection in promoting persistence. Regarding adaptability, transformation processes are more evident in areas showing a higher rate of abandonment because reversion of abandonment to irrigated arable land is the most frequent process of change in crop management. Lessons have emerged from our study of Huerta de Valencia that could be applied to other traditional periurban landscapes. To improve resilience, change should be guided toward farm types with high levels of flexibility that facilitate adaptation, encouragement of full-time professional farming, and rise of the visibility of local varieties that are distinctive to the area. In addition, linkages between people and the physical space should be encouraged by the improvement of physical and visual connections that increase social use and appreciation of these traditional landscapes.

Key words

adaptability; Huerta de Valencia; land-use change; landscape character; persistence; Spain

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087