LongTerm-Perspective of Human Impact on Landscape for Environmental Change (LoTEC)

A Special Issue on this topic has been recently published on the journal Sustainability, and we report here some sentences from the editorial (Sustainability 2019, 11, 413).

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The Long-Term perspective on the human impact on the landscape for Environmental Change (LoTEC[1]) is becoming one of the main topics of paramount interest in biological and earth sciences. A Special Issue on this topic has been recently published on the journal Sustainability which demonstrates the multi- and inter- disciplinary research in the field (editorial: Sustainability 2019, 11, 413).

The understanding of LoTEC is urgent to facilitate sustainable development and it is based on the knowledge and description of environments at subsequent steps and degrees of human impact. Multidisciplinary bio-geo-archaeological investigations on the dynamics that govern the human-climate ecosystem are crucial to allow us to envisage possible future scenarios of biosphere responses to global warming and biodiversity loss.

Sustainable agriculture and land management are among the key themes that must be deepened in a long-term perspective. The palaeo- and archaeo-environmental research has demonstrated that people have adopted a diffused pattern of land use involving a combination of diverse activities, using trees-crops-domesticate animals with a combination of wood exploitation, field cultivation and animal breeding (e.g., since the Neolithic in the Mediterranean area). The multifunctional land-use, adopted for millennia (as Mercuri and colleagues wrote in 'From influence to impact: The multifunctional land-use in Mediterranean prehistory emerging from palynology of archaeological sites (8.0–2.8 ka BP)', currently in press on the journal The Holocene) seems to be the best way to develop our economy in the future. Moreover, the knowledge of the past is the most reliable basis to identify the vocation of different lands for future developments.

Archaeobotany (the study of plants from archaeological sites) can give fundamental information about the presence of people activity and various land uses along past millennia, in prehistoric and historic centuries[2][3][4][5]. For several reasons, however, the integration between results from past and present contexts is negligible, and it is more common to find papers written by archaeobotanists to botanists[6], by historians to palaeoecologists[7], and by palaeoecologists to ecologists[8], rather than by ecologists towards palaeoecologists[9]. An interdisciplinary dialogue on the dynamic interactions between nature and society, focusing on long-term environmental data, is an essential tool to better-informed landscape management decisions that develop equilibrium between conservation and sustainable resources exploitation.


  1. Mercuri, Anna Maria; Florenzano, Assunta; The Long-Term Perspective of Human Impact on Landscape for Environmental Change (LoTEC) and Sustainability: from botany to the interdisciplinary approach. Sustainability 2019, 11, 413, 10.3390/su11020413.
  2. Willcox, George; Evidence for plant exploitation and vegetation history from three Early Neolithic pre-pottery sites on the Euphrates (Syria). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 1996, 5, 143-152, 10.1007/bf00189445.
  3. Mercuri, Anna Maria; Sadori, Laura; Blasi, Carlo; Editorial: Archaeobotany for cultural landscape and human impact reconstructions. Plant Biosystems - An International Journal Dealing with all Aspects of Plant Biology 2010, 144, 860-864, 10.1080/11263504.2010.514137.
  4. Hunt, C.O.; Rabett, R.J.; Holocene landscape intervention and plant food production strategies in island and mainland Southeast Asia. Journal of Archaeological Science 2014, 51, 22-33, 10.1016/j.jas.2013.12.011.
  5. Pérez-Jordà, Guillem; Peña-Chocarro, Leonor; Picornell-Gelabert, Llorenç; Carrión Marco, Yolanda; Agriculture between the third and first millennium bc in the Balearic Islands: the archaeobotanical data. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 2017, 27, 253-265, 10.1007/s00334-017-0618-y.
  6. Mercuri, Anna Maria; Marignani, Michela; Sadori,Laura; 2013 Palynology: The bridge between paleoecology and ecology for the understanding of human-induced global changes in the Mediterranean Area. Annali di Botanica (Roma) 2013, 3, 107-113, 10.4462/annbotrm-10332.
  7. Izdebski, Adam; Holmgren, Karin; Weiberg, Erika; Stocker, Sharon R.; Büntgen, Ulf; et al.; Realising consilience: How better communication between archaeologists, historians and natural scientists can transform the study of past climate change in the Mediterranean. Quaternary Science Reviews 2016, 136, 5-22, 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.10.038.
  8. Hjelle, Kari Loe; Kaland, Sigrid; Kvamme, Mons; Lødøen, Trond Klungseth; Natlandsmyr, Brith; Ecology and long-term land-use, palaeoecology and archaeology – the usefulness of interdisciplinary studies for knowledge-based conservation and management of cultural landscapes. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 2012, 8, 321-337, 10.1080/21513732.2012.739576.
  9. Marignani, Michela; Chiarucci, Alessandro; Sadori, Laura; Mercuri, Anna Maria; Natural and human impact in Mediterranean landscapes: An intriguing puzzle or only a question of time?. Plant Biosystems - An International Journal Dealing with all Aspects of Plant Biology 2016, 151, 1-6, 10.1080/11263504.2016.1244121.