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Volume XVIII |

Aridity risk in the west of the Oltenia Plain: natural factors and human impacts on land degradation

Abstract: The lands of southern Oltenia had different evolution stages in the last century being influenced by the climatic factor but especially by the anthropic factor. From the extensive areas of ponds and marshes in the pre-war period to drainage, embankments, irrigation systems and planting of the windbreakers and shelterbelts in the 50s – 60s (reflected in the agricultural peak of the 70s – 80s) and to the present day, we are witnessing the aridization of the lands and the extension of the predominantly sandy areas, impracticable to the current type of agriculture.
After 1990, agriculture in the southern part of the Oltenia Plain had an accelerated decline caused by the destruction of the irrigation systems, the deforestation of the windbreakers and shelterbelts, the situation of land ownership and the failure of the adaptation of the crops to the soil types. In 2012 the percentages of irrigated areas reached 0% capacity used out of 76,820 ha in the Blahnița Plain and 1% capacity used out of 299,621 ha in the Oltenia Plain. All these have led to land degradation and amplification of geomorphological processes, especially on sandy surfaces, where the lack of vegetal layer together with the wind process lead to destabilization and movement of sand dunes. This article aims to conduct a spatial-temporal analysis of several types of lands exposed to drying, whose surface has increased considerably to almost 50,000 hectares. Another 50,000 hectares are predisposed to this phenomenon in the Oltenia Plain, on the western part of Jiu. An environmental management strategy for a sustainable development could be made for the protection of the lands against the winds by planting windbreakers and shelterbelts of fast growing species (acacia, hybrid poplar, wild pine, walnut tree). The research methodology involved the processing of the annual average data on temperature, precipitation and wind direction from the weather stations in south-west Oltenia, the processing of the data from the Landsat, Corine maps, as well as the analysis of the data provided by the examination reports on the occupation of land offered by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration. In the analysis of land degradation as a result of the aridization process, the situation of the current vegetation layer was taken into consideration using the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and data taken from Corine Land Cover between 1990 and 2006 regarding the change of the land use in the Oltenia Plain.