To improve predictions of the future of ecosystems in a changing world, it is necessary to consider fine-scale processes. We propose that for the Mediterranean region (a hotspot of climate change and biodiversity), there are three local processes that have often been overlooked in predictive models and that are key to understanding vegetation changes: rural abandonment that increases wildlands, population changes that boost fire ignitions, and coastal degradation that enhances drought. These processes are not directly driven by global warming and act in different directions (greening and browning). The current balance is still toward greening, because land abandonment is buffering the browning drivers; however, it is likely to switch with increasing warming. The challenge is to mitigate the browning processes. Given that climatic warming is not directly driving these processes, local management can make a difference in reducing the overall impact on the landscape and society.

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