Hillside systems are key centers of ecological and cultural diversity, providing humanity with goods (e.g., food) and vital services (e.g., prevention of landslides) and sustaining 25% of terrestrial biodiversity. However, historical land use practices over these landscapes have contributed to their degradation. In this work, the hillside systems (i.e., slope > 5%) of the agricultural-rural landscape in the Coastal range of Central Chile (32° S–34° S) was analyzed and integrated analysis methods were used for the identification of areas that are degraded and have agricultural potential. The criteria used to identify them include morphometric parameters, current land cover/use, and legal protection status. The hillside systems represent a 74% of the study area, and while 1.2% is currently used for agriculture (13,473 ha), there are 3.2 thousand hectares that could be potentially recovered for agriculture, representing 0.4% of the hillside systems and 0.3% of the study area. In contrast, there are 773,131 ha of hillside systems with natural vegetation in need of conservation and/or protection, representing 69.4% of the study area (93.9% of the hillside systems). The last are key for the resilience of the entire landscape, helping to maintain critical processes linked to the productivity of agricultural areas, especially in the context of climate change and recurrent droughts.
- hillside systems
- soil degradation