This contribution proposes an integrated approach to detect and quantify land-use and land-cover changes as a basis for studying and predicting changes in environmental processes leading to desertification. The approach has been applied in Tabernas (Almería, Southeast Spain), a representative area of the Mediterranean region where a combination of extreme environmental conditions and modifications of the land-use pattern that occurred in the last decades have led to increase the risk of desertification. The approach is based on multi temporal records of remotely sensed data and field survey. Sets of aerial photographs of the fifties, the eighties and the nineties in combination to satellite images and other thematic data were used to map land use and cover in the three periods. During the past five decades 32% of dry farming has changed into irrigation, abandoned land and activities of none-vegetation cover. The new uses have exerted pressure on the environment that lead to an increase in desertification processes. In addition to the anthropogenic processes, the relationship between desertification and geological processes is also analysed in this work.