Studies in Modelling and Decision Support
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Edited by M. A. Quaddus and M. A.B. Siddique
Chapter 11: Assessing the Sustainability of Mediterranean Intensive Agricultural Systems through the Combined Use of Dynamic System Models, Environmental Modelling and Geographical Information Systems
11 Assessing the sustainability of Mediterranean intensive agricultural systems through the combined use of dynamic system models, environmental modelling and geographical information systems Julia Martínez Fernández and Miguel Angel Esteve Selma Introduction The transformation of ecosystems to produce food or ﬁbre has made agriculture the main driving force behind landscape modiﬁcation. During the last several decades the relationships between agricultural activities and the environment have changed, giving rise to a broad set of environmental problems (Comisión de las Comunidades Europeas, 1992; Agencia Europea de Medio Ambiente, 1998). These include the reduction of ﬂora, fauna and natural habitats; the pollution of freshwaters, aquifers and marine ecosystems, atmospheric pollution, the exhaustion of aquifers and surface waters; the salinization of soil and subterranean waters; soil degradation; and landscape deterioration in rural areas. Clearly the intensity or importance of these problems depends on the predominant type of agricultural system and is highest in so-called industrial agriculture, which is very dependent on the availability of new lands, infrastructures and on the intensive input of water, fertilizers, energy and capital. Most of the above problems have been considered as environmental indicators for the evaluation of the sustainability of socioeconomic development. The Sustainable Development Commission has promoted the elaboration of an initial set of 134 indicators of sustainable development classified into four categories (social, economic, environmental and institutional). In the case of environmental indicators, some are directly related to problems generated by agriculture. In particular, indicators regarding the protection of water quality, the...
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