The abandonment of land is a global problem with environmental and socioeconomic implications. An approach to assess the relationship between land abandonment and a large set of indicators was illustrated in the present study by using data collected in the framework of the European Union DESIRE research project from 808 field sites located in 10 study sites in the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. A total of 48 indicators provided information for biophysical conditions and socioeconomic characteristics measured at the plot level. The selected indicators refer to farm characteristics (family status, land tenure, present and previous types of land-use, soil depth, slope gradient, tillage operations) and to site-specific characteristics including annual rainfall, rainfall seasonality and water availability. Classes were designated for each indicator and a sensitivity score was assigned to each class based on existing research or empirically assessing the importance of each indicator to the land abandonment issue. Questionnaires for each process of land degradation were prepared and data were collected at field site level in collaboration with land users. Based on correlation statistics and multivariate analyses more than ten indicators out of 48 resulted as significant in affecting land abandonment in the studied field sites. Among them, the most important were rainfall seasonality, elderly index, land fragmentation, farm size, selected soil properties, and the level of policy implementation. Results contribute to the development of appropriate tools for assessing the effectiveness of land management practices for contrasting land abandonment. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.