Natural and anthropogenic landscape degradation


Environmental and Regional Studies (3rd level)

Biodiversity and ecology (3rd Cycle)
Paleobiology and sedimentary geology (3rd Cycle)
Regional studies (3rd Cycle)

Course code: DI010
Year of study: without

Course principals:
Assist. Prof. Mateja Breg Valjavec, Ph.D.
Assist. Prof. Rok Ciglič, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 30 hours, seminar 10 hours, field work 20 hours, individual work 120 hours.
Course type: common elective
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminars, e-learning


Course syllabus (download)


Second-cycle Bologna degree in the relevant track or a university (level VII) degree


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • Definition of landscape degradation, land degradation and degraded land (area),
  • Socio-economic aspects of naturally induced land degradation (erosion-agriculture, sleet-forestry, flood-settlement-economy, earthquakes-infrastructure, graviclastic processes-tourism etc.),
  • Socio-economic aspects of anthropogenic/ human induced land degradation (excavation of mineral resources, industry, waste disposal, gas and sewage emissions, etc.),
  • Environmental vulnerability of different landscapes (water protection zones, densely populated areas, karst landscapes etc.),
  • The impacts of anthropogenic land degradation on landscape elements (relief, soil, vegetation, surface and ground waters, air,…),
  • Remote sensing and advanced GIS methods for detection of land degradation and degraded lands & in-situ methods for measuring the level of degradation,
  • Examples of good practises from Slovenia and abroad (urban brownfields, rural brownfields, naturally induced degraded land),
  • Paradigms, methods and approaches for reactivation of degraded land considering the type of landscape degradation (phytoremediation, reactivation, land use improvement, construction measures, cultural industries etc.)
  • Examples of good practices of reactivation of degraded land in Slovenia and Europe.



  • Breg Valjavec, M., ZORN, M. 2015: Degraded karst relief : waste-filled dolines. V: DANIELS, Justin A. (ur.). Advances in environmental research. Vol. 40.
  • Breg Valjavec, M. 2013: Nekdanja odlagališča odpadkov v vrtačah in gramoznicah. Geografija Slovenije 26.
  • Chrysochoou, M., Brown, K., Dahal, G. et al. (2012). A GIS and indexing scheme to screen brownfields for areawide redevelopment planning. Landscape and Urban Planning 105:187198.
  • Gibbs H.K., Salmon J.M., 2015. Mapping the world’s degraded lands. Applied Geography 57.
  • Koželj, J. 1998. Degradirana urbana območja. Ljubljana.
  • Smrekar, A., Breg Valjavec, M. 2014: Vrednotenje nekdanje in sedanje proizvodnje nevarnih odpadkov v Ljubljani z vidika obremenjevanja podtalnice. Geografski vestnik 86-2.
  • Zorn, M., Komac, B. Land degradation. V: Bobrowsky, P. T. (ur.). Encyclopedia of natural hazards, (Encyclopedia of earth sciences series, ISSN 13884360), (Springer reference).Dordrecht etc.: Springer, cop. 2013, str. 580583, ilustr.


Objectives and competences:

The main goal of course is to introduce a student with the most common types of land degradation and to train him for professional and autonomous work at different planning and management levels considering degraded lands.


During the course the student will achieve following knowledge and competences:

  • be able to recognize and separate the areas of natural and anthropogenic landscape degradation
  • know how to determine natural and societal processes that are causing land degradation
  • be able to recognize the impacts of land degradation on different natural landscape elements (relief, soil, vegetation, water, air)
  • Know all available types of reactivation of degraded lands and can be critically involved in decision processes regarding further development of degraded areas
  • Is familiar with different field methods for determination and evaluation of degradation level (soil sampling, electrical resistivity measurements, ecological evaluation etc.)


Intended learning outcomes:

  • Understanding of most advanced approaches and methods in the field of land degradation,
  • Understanding the environment and the consequences of human activities in landscape,
  • Understanding of space/landscape as a non-renewable natural resource,
  • Be able of using/applying the most appropriate methodological approaches as decision support to redevelopment of degraded lands,
  • Integrated and interdisciplinary evaluation of landscape degradation and their impacts on environment, society and economy,
  • Practical knowledge and experiences in the field of critical recognition, evaluation and planning of sustainable interventions in to degraded landscape.



Oral exam (70 %), written paper (30 %).