, 2006). In the northeastern Spanish Mediterranean region, vineyards have been cultivated since the 12th century on hillslopes with terracing systems utilizing stone walls. Since the 1980–1990s, viticulture, due to the increasing of the related economic market, has been based on MEK inhibitor new terracing systems constructed using heavy machinery. This practice reshaped the landscape of the region, producing vast material displacement, an increase of mass movements due to topographic irregularities, and a significant visual impact. Cots-Folch
et al. (2006) underlined that land terracing can be considered as a clear example of an anthropic geomorphic process that is rapidly reshaping the terrain morphology. Terracing has been practiced in Italy since the Neolithic and is well documented from the Middle Ages onward. In the 1700s, Italian agronomists such as Landeschi, Ridolfi and Testaferrata began to learn the art of hill and mountain terracing, earning their recognition as “Tuscan masters of hill management” (Sereni, 1961). Several agronomic treatises written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries selleck kinase inhibitor observe that in those times there was a critical situation
due to a prevalence of a “rittochino” (slopewise) practice (Greppi, 2007). During the same period, the need to increase agricultural surfaces induced farmers to till the soil even on steep slopes and hence to engage in impressive terracing works. Terraced areas are found all over Italy, from the Alps to the Apennines and in the interior, both in the hilly and mountainous areas, representing distinguishing elements of the cultural identity of the country, particularly in the rural areas. Contour terraces and regular terraces remained in use until the second post-war period, as long as sharecropping
contracts guaranteed their constant maintenance. Thus, enough terraces became a regular feature of many hill and mountain landscapes in central Italy. Beginning in the 1940s, the gradual abandonment of agricultural areas led to the deterioration of these typical elements of the landscape. With the industrialization of agriculture and the depopulation of the countryside since the 1960s, there has been a gradual decline in terrace building and maintenance, as a consequence of the introduction of tractors capable of tilling the soil along the steepest direction of the hillside (“a rittochino”), which resulted in a reduction of labour costs. Basically, this means the original runoff drainage system is lost. The results consist of an increase in soil erosion due to uncontrolled runoff concentration and slope failures that can be a serious issue for densely populated areas.