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on 31 May 2007
I'm sure this book will become a classic listed as a reference in works to come.

The whole of the book is concerned about human influence in the Mediterranean landscapes, one of the more intensively used of the planet, and one of the earliest to be used. The idea the authors fight against for the whole of the book is that the Mediterranean is a "ruined landscape" due to human activity.

So they study climate in historic times, climatic change since the last glaciation, vegetation, erosion, terracing, influence of fire, etc. in an impressively thorough way with plenty of "case studies".

They arrive to the conclusion that in Classical times the Mediterranean was more arid than now, that there is no consistent influence of the global warming in the Mediterranean so far (if one studies weather registries and "clues" further back than the beginning of the 20th century) and that erosion rates are not relevantly different than in the past.

They refute there is any "desertification" in Southern Europe and also the typical assertion that maquis and savanna are degraded forests.

They counterbalance the damage caused by overgrazing with the risk of the landscape becoming a "fire dominated" landscape, and in short, they score all the points to be considered heretics by both ecologists and governmental planners all over the north Mediterranean shores.

However, given the obvious field research the authors have been undertaking for decades and their impressive knowledge of the way the Mediterranean works from geology to "off season tavern talks" their conclusions are to be taken into account. I think there are some points maybe overstated, the chapter on fire is specially cruel against Pinus Halepensis forests but here in Majorca peasants have always fought against them and if the authors are right maybe the peasants were taking the scientifically right way with their hate against the thick rows of pines.

There is just one objection to this book. As it refutes so many well established theories, it is loaded with information to back these theories. This is obviously the way to proof theories but there could be an abridged version with the main ideas (making reference to the unabridged version information) and the superb illustrations that could be read easily by more people and possibly translated to other languages so these theories could reach all the relevant people.

A superb book.
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