The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: an Ecological History
- List Price: $75.00
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: Yale University Press
- Publish date: 10/01/2000
Mediterranean Europe -- southern Portugal and Spain, France, Italy, the Balkans, Greece, and the Mediterranean islands -- is often interpreted as a "Lost Eden", once verdant and fertile, then progressively degraded and desertified by human mismanagement and the ignorance and folly of successive civilizations. In this engaging book, two distinguished scholars challenge this pessimistic view.
A. T. Grove and Oliver Rackham trace the evolution of climate and vegetation in southern Europe from prehistoric times to the present. They point out that since the climate has usually been unstable there, plant cover has had to accommodate to its extremes and has therefore become resilient under different patterns of human activity. They show that deluges, a major factor in promoting erosion and shaping valley floors and deltas, were more frequent during times of advancing glaciers than they are now. They assess the nature and functioning of agricultural terraces, the Mediterranean savanna, and karsts, badlands, and other desert-like landscapes. Finally, they point to the real threats to Mediterranean landscapes in the recent past and the immediate future: not only coastal development, but also bulldozing, excessive irrigation, and the consequences of depopulation in the interior.