Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Joni Downs Firat, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Philip Van Beynen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Seth Cavello, Ph.D.


Crop trees, Drought, Environmental conditions, Land degradation, Quality indexes


Desertification is one of the most critical environmental problems caused by human activities and climate change. As a result of human activities, land degradation has been seen in many agricultural areas. Intense pressure on cultivated fields causes loss of soil fertility, which can then lead to desertification. Planting plant drought-resistant plants, such as olives, is one strategy for reducing desertification risk in cultivated areas. It is essential to find a way not only how to combat this process but also how to adapt or survive with desertification conditions. Defining desertification risks have a fundamental role in combating drought. The goal of this research was to analyze the environmental conditions associated with olive cultivation in Tulare County, California, in comparison to other tree crops and to evaluate their respective desertification risks. Desertification risk results showed that more than half of Tulare County is very sensitive to desertification. During 2014, olive trees were located in mostly on sites where desertification risk was rated low or absent. Also, the results obtained illustrate that olive trees could be used as a method to combat desertification in high risk areas, or as a replacement for failing tree crops in Tulare County.