Environmental characteristics, agricultural land use, and vulnerability to degradation in Malopolska Province (Poland).
Many attempts have been made worldwide to develop methods to identify the areas most threatened by soil degradation. Some soils in afflicted areas may be irreversibly degraded and thus have very little resilience (the ability to restore themselves). For the purpose of assessing the current state of soil degradation in the Czech Republic (CZ) we have developed an overall indicator of land vulnerability to the threat of soil degradation on the basis of individual factors that contribute to soil degradation and are monitored on a long-term basis in various research worksites in the CZ. Individual degradation factors were divided into two groups: chemical and physical degradation. On the basis of principal component analysis, individual degradation factors were assigned a specific weight of influence. With the use of a GIS, the input factors of degradation were combined to create maps of chemical and physical soil degradation, and consequently a map of overall degradation-threatened soils for the CZ, along with a map of areas differentiated according to the prevailing type of degradation. Results showed that, at present, the most important degradation factor in the CZ is water erosion, followed by loss of organic matter. Statistical analysis showed that approximately 51% of agricultural land is moderately threatened in the CZ.