The present study introduces a monetary evaluation of soil degradation through an integrated framework that takes into account the traditional economic approaches and recent ecological studies. The paper provides a review of the methodologies proposed to estimate, both in physical and monetary terms, the cost of soil degradation. On the basis of the strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches, an original methodology was introduced to estimate the cost of soil degradation which was specifically applied to the Italian context. The results show that the potential cost of soil degradation, albeit negligible on a country scale, can be remarkable in specific geographic areas and socioeconomic contexts. A discussion on the originality of the proposed methodology as an informative tool supporting environmental policies against desertification concludes the article.
Keywords: Indicators, Degradation, Soil, User cost, Spatial scale, Italy.