Environmental factors influencing the distribution of agricultural terraces: Case study of Horný Tisovník, Slovakia

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Abstract

The cadastral district of Horný Tisovník represents a traditionally managed Carpathian mountain agricultural landscape with extensive terraces. It was historically governed by two counties with different feudal economic systems - agricultural and industrial. This paper aims to enrich traditional methods in environmental history. We applied geospatial statistics and multivariate data analysis for the assessment of environmental factors influencing the distribution of agricultural terraces. Using linear models, the hypothesis was tested that the terrace distribution is functionally related to selected factors (affiliation to the historic counties; average altitude and slope; distance from water, buildings and settlements; units of natural potential vegetation; and current land use). Significantly greater amounts of terraces were located in the agricultural county compared to the industrial county. A principal component analysis showed the coincidence between the current agricultural land use and higher concentrations of terraces occurring in lower altitudes, closer to settlements and buildings, and within the unit of Carpathian oak-hornbeam forests. These findings regarding the most significant factors influencing the distribution of terraces are used in proposals for incentives to improve the management of the traditional agricultural landscape.

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