Following its application in Northern Europe, Landscape Character Assessment has also been implemented in Euro-Mediterranean countries as a tool for classifying, describing and assessing landscapes. Many landscape classifications employed in the Euro-Mediterranean area are similar in philosophy and application to the ones developed in Northern Europe. However, many aspects of landform, climate, land-use and ecology, as well as socio-economic context are distinctive of Mediterranean landscapes. The paper discusses the conceptual and methodological issues faced during landscape mapping and characterisation in four East-Mediterranean countries (within the MEDSCAPES project): Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Lebanon. The major hurdles to overcome during the first phase of methodology development include variation in availability, quality, scale and coverage of spatial datasets between countries and also terminology semantics around landscapes. For example, the concept of landscape - a well-defined term in Greek and English - did not exist in Arabic. Another issue is the use of relative terms like 'high mountains,' ‘uplands’ ‘lowlands’ or ' hills'. Such terms, which are regularly used in landscape description, were perceived slightly differently in the four participating countries. In addition differences exist in nomenclature and classification systems used by each country for the dominant landscape-forming factors i.e. geology, soils and land use- but also in the cultural processes shaping the landscapes - compared both to each other and to the Northern-European norms. This paper argues for the development of consistent, regionally adapted, relevant and standardised methodologies if the results and application of LCA in the eastern Mediterranean region are to be transferable and comparable between countries.
The Wadi Zerka Ma'in catchment area is located in the North East of the Dead Sea. It contains a confined
river of about 23 km length. The region is characterized by a recent sharp base level drop and a strong
orographic control on climatic parameters such as temperature and precipitation. It is controlled by three
regional structural systems as follow: 1) the anticline - syncline system (late Cretaceous - end of Miocene)
which is a part of Syrian fold arc system; 2) NW - SE faults system which were generated simultaneously
and parallel to the Red Sea spreading; 3) NWW - SSE faults system which are perpendicular to the Dead
Sea and younger than the Red Sea fault system; 4) NNW - SSE faults system (middle Miocene - until
now) which were generated simultaneously and parallel to the active Dead Sea transform fault. The
structural setting of the study area was evaluated by means of a three-dimensional (3D) geological model, a
digital elevation model (DEM) with resolutions 15 meters and stream profile analysis. DEM generation was
performed using ASTER data. We found that the Wadi is located at the junction of two main fault systems.
The major feature is a trans-tensional fault displacement which changes from 0 to 200 m. We showed that
the catchment area is a result of a rotational fault while the river changes its flow direction according to the
different fault system directions. The lower portion of the basin is affected by the major base level drops and display contributing rivers in exceptional non-equilibrium. Thus this catchment allows observing the rapid adaptation of the drainage system to both climatic and tectonic forcing.