RCIN and OZwRCIN projects


Title: Degradacja powierzchni ziemi – zakres terminologiczny, metody oceny i perspektywy badań = Land degradation – definitions, methods and research perspectives


Prokop, Paweł : Autor ORCID

Date issued/created:


Resource type:



Przegląd Geograficzny T. 92 z. 1 (2020)



Place of publishing:



24 cm

Type of object:



The analysis of the Scopus bibliographic database indicates a doubling of the frequency of use of the term land degradation in scientific articles from 302 to 658 times between 2010 and 2018. Most often it was used in publications in the fields of environmental, agricultural, biological, social and earth sciences, respectively. The growing interest in land degradation reflects expected population growth and the consequent increasing pressure on the natural environment on a global scale, with it at the same time being difficult to predict the effects of extreme events due to climate change. The purpose of the article is to review the definition of land degradation from the point of view of various scientific disciplines, and to draw attention to the methods of identification and assessment of land degradation, as well as research perspectives. The review of definitions indicates that land degradation is a complex concept lacking a single identifying feature. It describes how natural resources (soil, water, vegetation, rocks, air and topography) are depleted or experience a lowering in quality. Although a precise definition of the concept of degradation is not possible, due to the existence of many factors responsible for it, land degradation is by definition not merely an environmental problem, but also a social once. The diverse range of land degradation concepts results in difficulties with the development of methodology and the supply of comparable information. The choice of identification method and degradation assessment, next to the purpose of the study, depends on the latter’s spatial scale. At detailed scales, over areas of up to approx. 100 km2 (e.g. a small catchment), expert knowledge is most often used in conjunction with field survey and the analysis of cartographic and remote-sensing data. In the assessment of land degradation on a medium scale (that of a region or country), a desertification and land-use analysis developed for the Mediterranean region – MEDALUS (Mediterranean Desertification and Land Use) is often used. It takes into account the values of several physical variables, including climate characteristics, soil features, vegetation and anthropogenic factors, including land use with the forms of environmental protection. MEDALUS is a stable degradation assessment procedure, verified in many European countries, including Central Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, as well as China’s subtropical zone. Only four approaches have so far been used to assess degradation on a global scale. All studies were based on proxy data in the form of degradation indicators derived from expert studies at various scales, satellite observations, biophysical models and the inventorying of abandoned farmland. The presented definitions, research methods and results of studies on degradation indicate that there are still serious deficiencies with the identification of degradation factors and the study of their interactions, especially at regional and national levels. The gathering together of many local expert studies into unified databases should facilitate transition to analysis at the level of large physico-geographical regions and countries. In this context, the possibility of an assessment of land degradation being combined with one relating to the provisioning of ecosystem services would seem particularly interesting.


Alexandratos N., Bruinsma J., 2012, World agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 revision, ESA Working paper, FAO, Rome, Italy, http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/esa/Global_persepctives/world_ag_2030_50_2012_rev.pdf (25.06.2019).
Bai Z.G., Dent D.L., Olsson L., Schaepman M.E., 2008, Proxy global assessment of land degradation, Soil Use and Management, 24, s. 223-234. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-2743.2008.00169.x
Bakr N., Weindorf D.C., Bahnassy M.H., El-Badawi M.M., 2012, Multi-temporal assessment of land sensitivity to desertification in a fragile agro-ecosystem: Environmental indicators, Ecological Indicators, 15, s. 271-280. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.09.034
Barrow C.J., 1991, Land Degradation: Development and breakdown of terrestrial environments, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Blaikie P., Brookfield H., 1987, Land degradation and society, Methuen, London.
Bot A.J., Nachtergaele F.O., Young A., 2000, Land resource potential and constraints at regional and country levels, FAO, Land and Water Development Division, Rome, Italy.
Brabant P., 2010, A land degradation assessment and mapping method. A standard guideline proposal, Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD, 8, CSFD, Agropolis International, Montpellier, France.
Von Braun J., Gerber N., Mirzabaev A., Nkonya E., 2013, The economics of land degradation, ZEF Working Paper Series, Working Paper 109, University of Bonn, Germany. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2237977
Cai X., Zhang X., Wang D., 2011, Land availability for biofuel production, Environmental Science and Technology, 45, s. 334-339. https://doi.org/10.1021/es103338e
Campbell J.E., Lobell D.B., Field C.B., 2009, Greater transportation energy and GHG offsets from bioelectricity than ethanol, Science, 324, s. 1055-1057. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1168885
Conacher A., 2004, Land system, [w:] A. Goudie (red.), Encyclopedia of Geomorphology, Oxford.
Costanza R., de Groot R., Braat L., Kubiszewski I., Fioramonti L., Sutton P., Farber S., Grasso M., 2017, Twenty years of ecosystem services: How far have we come and how far do we still need to go?, Ecosystem Services, 28, s. 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.09.008
Dregne H.E., Chou N.T., 1992, Global desertification dimensions and costs, Degradation & Restoration of Arid Lands, s. 73-92.
Dulias R., 2018, Drift sand fields as a result of past and current deforestation in the Silesian-Cracow Upland, Poland, Land Degradation & Development, 29, s. 1530-1539. https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.2888
ELD-Initiative, 2013, The rewards of investing in sustainable land management, [w:] Interim report for the economics of land degradation initiative: A global strategy for sustainable land management, http://www.eld-initiative.org/fileadmin/pdf/ELD_Interim_Report_Summary_2013_2_1. pdf (25.06.2019).
Ellis E.C., Pascual U., Mertz O., 2019, Ecosystem services and nature's contribution to people: Negotiating diverse values and trade-offs in land systems, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 38, s. 86-94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2019.05.001
Eswaran H., Lal R., Reich P.F., 2001, Land degradation: An overview, [w:] E.M. Bridges, I.D. Hannam, L.R. Oldeman, F.W.T. Pening de Vries, S.J. Scherr, S. Sompatpanit (red.), Responses to land degradation, Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Land Degradation and Desertification, KhonKaen, Thailand, Oxford Press, New Delhi, India.
FAO, 1999, Women: users, preservers and managers of agrobiodiversity, FAO, Rome, Italy, www.fao. org/FOCUS/E/Women/Biodiv-e.htm (25.06.2019).
FAO, 2006, World agriculture: towards 2030/2050. Interim report, FAO, Rome, Italy, http://www.fao. org/fileadmin/user_upload/esag/docs/Interim_report_AT2050web.pdf. (25.06.2019).
FAO, 2011, The state of the world’s land and water resources for food and agriculture. Managing systems at risk, FAO, Rome and Earthscan, London.
FAO, 2015, Soil degradation, FAO, Rome, Italy, http://www.fao.org/soils-portal/soil-degradation-restoration/en/ (25.06.2019).
Field C.B., Campbell J.E., Lobell D.B., 2008, Biomass energy: The scale of the potential resource, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23, s. 65-72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2007.12.001
Foley J.A., Ramankutty N., Brauman K.A., Cassidy E.S., Gerber J.S., Johnston M., Mueller N.D., O'Connell C., Ray D.K., West P.C., Balzer C., Bennett E.M., Carpenter S.R., Hill J., Monfreda C., Polasky S., Rockstrom J., Sheehan J., Siebert S., Tilman D., Zaks D.P.M., 2011, Solutions for a cultivated planet, Nature, 478, s. 337-342. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature10452
Geist H.J., Lambin E.F., 2002, Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestation, BioScience, 52, s. 143-150. https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2002)052[0143:PCAUDF]2.0.CO;2
Geist H.J., Lambin E.F., 2004, Dynamic causal patterns of desertification, Bioscience, 54, s. 817-829. https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0817:DCPOD]2.0.CO;2
Gibbs H.K., Salmon J.M., 2015, Mapping the world's degraded lands, Applied Geography, 57, s. 12-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2014.11.024
Gomiero T., 2016, Soil degradation, land scarcity and food security: Reviewing a complex challenge, Sustainability, 8, 281. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8030281
Grove A.T., Rackham O., 2003, The nature of Mediterranean Europe: An ecological history, Yale University Press, USA.
Han W., Liu G., Su X., Wu X., Chen L., 2019, Assessment of potential land degradation and recommendations for management in the south subtropical region, Southwest China, Land Degradation & Development, 30, s. 979-990. https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.3285
Hobbs R.J., 2016, Degraded or just different? Perceptions and value judgements in restoration decisions, Restoration Ecology, 24, s. 153-158. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12336
IPCC, 2007, IPCC fourth assessment report (AR4), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge, UK.
Johnson D.L., Ambrose S.H., Bassett T.J., Bowen M.L., Crummey D.E., Isaacson J.S., Johnson D.L., Lamb P., Saul M., Winter-Nelson A.E., 1997, Meanings of environmental terms, Journal of Environmental Quality, 26, s. 581-589. https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq1997.00472425002600030002x
Kosmas C., Kirkby M., Geeson N., 1999, Manual on key indicators of desertification and mapping environmentally sensitive areas to desertification, European Commission, Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, EUR 18882, Bruxelles.
Lal R., 2001, Soil degradation by erosion, Land Degradation & Development, 12, s. 519-539. https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.472
Lal R., Blum W.E.H., Valentin C., Stewart B.A. (red.), 1997, Methods for assessment of soil degradation, CRC Press, New York.
Lal R., Hall G.F., Miller F.P., 1989, Soil degradation: I. Basic processes, Land Degradation & Development, 1, s. 51-69. https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.3400010106
MEA, 2005, Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Island Press, Washington D.C.
Migoń P., Latocha A., 2018, Human impact and geomorphic change through time in the Sudetes, Central Europe, Quaternary International, 470, s. 194-206. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2018.01.038
Montgomery D.R., 2007, Dirt: The erosion of civilization; University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Myga-Piątek U., 2014, Historia, metody i źródła badań krajobrazu kulturowego, Problemy Ekologii Krajobrazu, 17, s. 71-77.
Oldeman L.R., Hakkeling R.U., Sombroek W.G., 1990, World map of the status of human-induced soil degradation: An explanatory note, International Soil Reference and Information Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Prăvălie R., Patriche C., Bandoc G., 2017, Quantification of land degradation sensitivity areas in Southern and Central Southeastern Europe. New results based on improving DISMED methodology with new climate data, Catena, 158, s. 309-320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2017.07.006
Ramankutty N., Foley J.A., Norman J., McSweeney K., 2002, The global distribution of cultivable lands: Current patterns and sensitivity to possible climate change, Global Ecology and Biogeography, 11, s. 377-392. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1466-822x.2002.00294.x
Rączkowska Z., Bucała-Hrabia A., Prokop P., 2018, Geomorphological and sedimentological indicators of land degradation (Meghalaya Plateau, NE India), Land Degradation & Development, 29, s. 2746-2759. https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.3020
Richling A., Solon J., 1993, Ekologia krajobrazu, PWN, Warszawa.
Sepehr A., Hassanli A.M., Ekhtesasi M.R., Jamali J.B., 2007, Quantitative assessment of desertification in south of Iran using MEDALUS method, Environmental Monitoring Assessment, 134, s. 243-254. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-007-9613-6
Siebielec G., Prokop G., van Delden H., Verzandvoort S., Miturski T., Łopatka A., 2016, Soil sealing, [w:] J. Stolte, M. Tesfai, L. Oygarden, S. Kvaerno, J. Keizer, F. Verheijen, P. Panagos, C. Ballabio, R. Hessel (red.), Soil threats in Europe: status, methods, drivers and effects on ecosystem services: deliverable 2.1 RECARE project, European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre, Luxembourg, s.79-91.
Solon J., Roo-Zielińska E., Affek A., Kowalska A., Wolski J., Degórski M., Grabińska B., Kołaczkowska E., Regulska E., Kruczkowska B., 2017, Świadczenia ekosystemowe w krajobrazie młodoglacjalnym: ocena potencjału i wykorzystania, IGiPZ PAN, Wydawnictwo Akademickie SEDNO, Warszawa.
Stocking M.A., Murnaghan N., 2000, Handbook for the field assessment of land degradation, Earthscan Publication Ltd., London.
Sutton P.C., Anderson S.J., Costanza R., Kubiszewski I., 2016, The ecological economics of land degradation: Impacts on ecosystem service values, Ecological Economics, 129, s. 182-192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.06.016
Thompson I.D., Guariguata M.R., Okabe K., Bahamondez C., Nasi R., Heymell V., Sabogal C., 2013, An operational framework for defining and monitoring forest degradation, Ecology and Society, 18, 2. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-05443-180220
Tilman D., Balzer C., Hill J., Befort B.L., 2011, Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, s. 20260-20264. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1116437108
Turner K.G., Anderson S., Gonzales-Chang M., Costanza R., Courville S., Dalgaard T., Dominati E., Kubiszewski I., Ogilvy S., Porfirio L., Ratna N., Sandhu H., Sutton P.C., Svenning J.-C., Turner G.M., Varennes Y.-D., Voinov A., Wratten S., 2016, A review of methods, data, and models to assess changes in the value of ecosystem services from land degradation and restoration, Ecological Modelling, 319, s. 190-207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.07.017
UNCCD, 1994, The United Nations convention to combat desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa, https://treaties.un.org/doc/ Treaties/1996/12/19961226%2001-46%20PM/Ch_XXVII_10p.pdf (25.06.2019).
UNCCD, 2014, Land degradation neutrality: Resilience at local, national and regional levels, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Bonn, Germany, http://catalogue.unccd.int/858_ V2_UNCCD_BRO_.pdf (25.06.2019).
UNDESA, 2014, World urbanization prospects: The 2014 revision, highlights, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, ST/ESA/SER.A/366, https://esa. un.org/unpd/wup/publications/files/wup2014-highlights.pdf (25.06.2019).
UNDESA, 2017, World population prospects: The 2017 revision, key findings and advance tables, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP/248, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/publications/Files/WPP2017_KeyFindings. pdf (25.06.2019).
UNEP, 1992, World atlas of desertification, United Nations Environmental Program, Edward Arnold, London, United Kingdom.
Whitmore T.C., 1975, Tropical rain forests of the Far East, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Zhang Y., 2000, Deforestation and forest transition: Theory and evidence in China, [w:] World forests from deforestation to transition? Springer, Dordrecht, s. 41-65.https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-0942-3_3


Przegląd Geograficzny





Start page:


End page:


Detailed Resource Type:



File size 0,5 MB ; application/octet-stream

Resource Identifier:

oai:rcin.org.pl:125078 ; 0033-2143 (print) ; 2300-8466 (on-line) ; 10.7163/PrzG.2020.1.1


CBGiOS. IGiPZ PAN, sygn.: Cz.181, Cz.3136, Cz.4187 ; click here to follow the link



Language of abstract:



Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license

Terms of use:

Copyright-protected material. [CC BY 4.0] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license, full text available at: ; -

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Central Library of Geography and Environmental Protection. Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

Projects co-financed by:

Operational Program Digital Poland, 2014-2020, Measure 2.3: Digital accessibility and usefulness of public sector information; funds from the European Regional Development Fund and national co-financing from the state budget.



Object collections:

Last modified:

Mar 25, 2021

In our library since:

May 26, 2020

Number of object content hits:


All available object's versions:


Show description in RDF format:


Show description in OAI-PMH format:




Citation style:

This page uses 'cookies'. More information