Definitions of key terms and words used used by the CASCADE project and in this website.

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land abandonment

Land that has been converted from any form of agricultural production or from areas which have been heavily grazed and then left and allowed to revegetate naturally.

land cover

The observed physical cover including the vegetation (natural or planted) and human constructions which cover the earth's surface. Water, ice, bare rock or sand surfaces count as land cover.

land degradation

1. The reduction in the capacity of the land to provide ecosystem goods and services and to assure its functions over a period of time for its beneficiaries. (LADA, 2009).

2. (in drylands) Reduction or loss, in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rainfed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process or combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities and habitation patterns. (UNCCD 1994).

3. Reduction of resource potential by one or a combination of processes acting on the land. These processes include water erosion, wind erosion and sedimentation by those agents, long term reduction in the amount or diversity of natural vegetation, where relevant, and salinization and sodication. (UNEP)

leaf area index (LAI)

The area of leaves above a given area of ground (expressed as the area of leaves above one square metre of soil).

less favoured area (LFA)

Areas with a special status in Europe. Farmers are encouraged to cultivate these lands in an environmentally friendly way.


The capabilities, assets (stores, resources, claims, access) and activities required for a means of living. (Chambers and Conway, 1992).

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