Abstract: The concept of landscape degradation interprets the process in landscape ecological sense, i.e. the degradation of one landscape forming factor leads to the degradation of the whole landscape. The consequence is a persistent decline in land productivity and in the provision of other ecosystem services. Global environmental change is driven mainly by human influence in the Anthropocene with an exponentially growing significance in time. Global environmental processes are very much interrelated. Because of population growth more food, fibre, clean water, energy etc. will be needed and there are two ways to achieve this, either to gain new areas for cultivation by changing present land use or to intensify cultivation in the areas with the best conditions for cultivation. Deforestation and forest degradation are dealt with in detail in the paper. The introduction of soil degradation processes follows the system given in the EEA Environmental Assessment Report (2003). The effect of landscape degradation on ecosystem services is well explained by the fact that approximately 20 per cent of the Earth’s vegetated surface shows persistent declining trends in productivity, mainly as a result of land/water use and management practices (UNCCD 2017). Landscape degradation processes of Hungary are discussed in the paper, including sheet, gully and wind erosion, soil sealing, salinization, physical degradation, landslides, desertification. An estimation of the aesthetical value of the landscape is provided as well concluding that the surface of the country represents a relatively high aesthetical value. The main conclusion is that Hungarian landscapes are well maintained and they belong to the most precious European landscapes. It should be added that all degradation processes represent important environmental problems to be combatted on the basis of a well-established policy making.
Keywords: land degradation, landscape degradation, desertification, global environmental change
Abstract: Wind erosion is one of the most important land degradation processes in Hungary in the areas with low yearly precipitation values. The total land area suffering from wind erosion is approximately 10,000 km2, 10 per cent of the country area. Observations and discussions on wind erosion and its negative impacts in Hungary started in the last century. Since the 1950s, scientists investigated wind erosion processes and their role in the evolution of alluvial fans in an integrative way, including laboratory measurements and field observations with respect to the stabilization and utilization of soils in agricultural areas. Since the late 2000s, there is an increasing demand worldwide to characterize the role of climate change and human activities in triggering land degradation processes. Studies have been conducted to investigate the mechanics, causes and control techniques related to wind erosion applying laboratory and field wind tunnel simulation tests and field observations. Some encouraging achievements have been made. In this paper we summarize the main research results of wind erosion research, and put forward some perspectives and suggestions on the problems of wind erosion research and control practices in Hungary.
Keywords: land degradation processes, soil erosion, wind erosion, wind erosion mapping
Abstract: Extreme precipitation events can trigger flash flood, mass movements, pluvial flood and accelerated soil erosion. As soil structures are highly degraded due to intensive improper cultivation water infiltration can considerably decrease during the vegetation period. Additional changes in canopy coverage on the soil surface cause relevant variability in infiltration and hence vulnerability against runoff related disasters. Most researchers agree that the frequency of extreme precipitations increases, however, in the Carpathian Basin the uncertainties are quite high. This study aims to compare daily maximum mean precipitation amounts (MMPA) predicted by the Goda-method for June and August as the most probable months of extremities. We used the CarpatClim database as input and predicted MMPAs for two periods, 1960–1985 and 1986–2010. The Goda-method uses monthly data and calculates daily results on given probability. A general increase was found between the first and second half of the period regarding daily maximum precipitation amount in both investigated months. For August the 1-day precipitation amount increased from 56.1 mm to 61.8 mm, whereas 6-days amount from 93.8 mm to 103.2 mm at 1 per cent probability (r = 0.53; p & 0.001). Beyond this change, relevant spatial differences were found. Comparing the macro regions plains had lower increase compared to the mountains, whereas the highest increase was in the Transdanubian Hills (TH). The most endangered location is the southern part of the Transdanubian Hills where parallel with the intensive increase in MMPA both in June and August the environmental conditions such as loose parent material and the high percentage of crop fields also emphasize the potential hazard.
Keywords: extreme precipitation, climate change, soil erosion, flash flood, pluvial flood
Abstract: The complexity of landslides makes it difficult to predict the spatial distribution of landslide susceptibility and hazard. Although in most European countries the basic preconditions for the occurrence of mass movements (rocks and topography) have been mapped in detail, the triggering factors (e.g. precipitation or earthquakes) are much less predictable. A detailed nation-wide inventory for Hungary provides a unique base for landslide susceptibility mapping. As the methodology for the assessment the technique applied in the ELSUS 1000 project was selected. The micro-regions of Hungary were identified where mass movements contribute to land degradation. The paper provides a statistical evaluation of the distribution of landslides, depicts landslide susceptibility on maps and reveals the role of anthropogenic factors in the generation of mass movements. The mid-resolution elevation model (SRTM1), land cover data (CLC50) and surface geology database (Mining and Geological Survey of Hungary) allowed for the derivation of a landslide susceptibility map more detailed than before. Along with its background information the map reflects and explains the differences in landslide susceptibility among the individual hilly and mountainous regions.
Keywords: landslides, national inventory, landslide susceptibility, GIS
Abstract: Climate change is one of the most important issues related to anthropogenic activities. The increasing drought conditions can cause water shortage and heat waves and can influence the agricultural production or the water supply of cities. The Carpathian region is also affected by this phenomenon; thus, we aimed at identifying the tendencies between 1960 and 2010 applying the CarpatClim (CC) database. We calculated the trends for each grid point of CC, plotted the results on maps, and applied statistical analysis on annual and seasonal level. We revealed that monthly average temperature, maximum temperature and evapotranspiration had similar patterns and had positive trends in all seasons except autumn. Precipitation also had a positive trend, but it had negative values in winter. The geospatial analysis disclosed an increasing trend from West to East and from north to west. A simple binary approach (value of 1 above the upper quartile in case of temperature and evapotranspiration, value of 1 below the lower quartile; 0 for the rest of the data) helped to identify the most sensitive areas where all the involved climatic variables exceeded the threshold: Western Hungary and Eastern Croatia. Results can help to prepare possible mitigation strategies for climate change to help both landowners and planners to draw the conclusions.
Keywords: CarpatClim, climatic change, trend, robust comparisons, sensitivity
Abstract: Landscape aesthetic research that emerged from the second half of the 20th century has become increasingly appreciated and popular in the last few decades. There are two main reasons for this. On the one hand, the role of landscape aesthetics in land use and environmental planning, management and conservation was recognized. On the other hand, its definition among Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) has made it clear that landscape aesthetics has a significant impact on human well-being and there is a need to examine it in the concept of Ecosystem Services and, in particular, Cultural Ecosystem Services. The mapping of landscape aesthetics is mostly based on the exclusive evaluation of objective, biophysical landscape factors. The aim of the research was to create the landscape aesthetic map of Hungary with a novel method based on human perception. For this, a questionnaire survey and a GIS approach was used. In order to better understand the role of factors influencing the aesthetic value of the landscape, value maps separately for land cover and elevation that are decisive for the landscape experience were prepared. To validate the results of the maps, and contribute a better understanding of the interrelationship between CES, a certain tourism product was chosen, and the connection between landscape aesthetics and the offer of rural tourism was examined in Hungary and in the Danube Bend priority tourism development area. Our findings show that there is a difference in the results of the objective (GIS based) and subjective (questionnaire based) assessment of landscape aesthetic value with the more important role of elevation in the latter. According to our tourism product-based analysis, which represents a niche approach in its kind, landscape values are higher in the areas with rural accommodation. At the same time, based on the results of the Danube Bend region, it can also be concluded that elevation and land cover together are crucial factors in landscapes considered to be the most valuable in aesthetic terms. The most direct practical application of our research is to orientate further tourism development of the new Danube Bend area designated in 2017.
Keywords: landscape value, land cover, questionnaire, weighted average, rural accommodation, validation
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