Agricultural terraces are among the most evident and extensive human signatures on different landscapes of the world. Terraces are generally built to retain soil and water, to reduce both hydrological connectivity and erosion, and to support irrigation. They reduce slope gradient and slope length, and increase the inﬁltration of water in areas with a moderate to low soil permeability by controlling the overland flow velocity, resulting positive effects on agricultural activities on steep slopes. Since ancient times, agricultural terraces have been built in different topographic conditions (e.g. coastal area; hilly; and steep slope mountain landscapes) and used for the cultivation of different crops (e.g. grapes; orchards; rice; maize; wheat). In few regions terrace construction and irrigation techniques used in the past continue to be effectively utilized today.
However agricultural terracing introduced relevant critical issues. The historical terraces are often of the bench type with stone walls, and require maintenance. Poorly designed and maintained terraces can lead to slope failures, often due to walls collapsing, and make increasing quantities of soil available for erosion by water. Also, terraces are often served by agricultural roads that can deeply influence surface hydrologic processes and erosion. Land abandonment and ageing of the local population, which affected several regions of the world during the last half century, are among the main reasons for the poor maintenance that has resulted in a progressive increase of land degradation and loss of soil functions in terraced landscapes (e.g. food production; environmental interaction such as storage, filtering and transformation; biological habitat; physical and cultural heritage).
The purpose of this session is to create a gathering point for researchers and practitioners who deal with terraced landscapes. This session will be an opportunity to share knowledge about the pedological, geomorphological and hydrologic characteristics of agricultural terraces, as well as their economic and cultural role. Special focus will be given to the effects of terrace abandonment and terrace lack of maintenance. We also welcome studies dealing with technological applications for field data collection (e.g. remote sensing approaches for topographic surveys or geochemical tracing techniques for connectivity studies), empirical and modeling approaches for data analysis, and any advances in environmental planning strategies for agricultural terraces management. Early stage researchers are strongly encouraged to present their research.