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Preserving Characteristics of the Agricultural Landscape through Agri-Environmental Policies: The Case of Cultivation Terraces in Greece

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Landscapes are made from different components and elements, some of which are characterized through their presence and patterns. The assessment of this character is performed via the identification of landscape characteristics. For agricultural landscapes, such characteristics can be natural elements or elements of farming systems. Their preservation can be of great importance in Europe today, and agri-environmental measures have been used towards this goal. One such characteristic in Greece is cultivation terraces, today widely neglected, as the cultivations they supported are abandoned or modernized. This paper discusses the effectiveness of an agri-environmental policy measure for the reconstruction of cultivation terraces in Greece, with regard to existing practices of farmers. A picture for the whole country is presented and farmers' practices are discussed with greater detail through research with farmers that have been supported on the island of Lesvos. Findings from Lesvos reveal that only part-time and ‘hobby’ farmers have participated and that they acknowledge the productive, conservation and symbolic value of terraces. In this context, although these farmers are actively farming the fields, terraces appear to have lost their original functional role in agricultural production and they are mainly maintained as a decorative element of the form of the landscape by farmers who can afford such concerns.
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Preserving Characteristics of the Agricultural Landscape through Agri-
Environmental Policies: The Case of Cultivation Terraces in Greece
Thanasis Kizosa; Maria Koulourib; Hristos Vakoufarisb; Maria Psarroua
a University of the Aegean, Geography, University Hill, Mytilene, Greece b Department of
Environmental Studies, University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece
Online publication date: 29 November 2010
To cite this Article Kizos, Thanasis , Koulouri, Maria , Vakoufaris, Hristos and Psarrou, Maria(2010) 'Preserving
Characteristics of the Agricultural Landscape through Agri-Environmental Policies: The Case of Cultivation Terraces in
Greece', Landscape Research, 35: 6, 577 — 593
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/01426397.2010.519434
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Preserving Characteristics of the
Agricultural Landscape through
Agri-Environmental Policies: The Case
of Cultivation Terraces in Greece
THANASIS KIZOS*, MARIA KOULOURI**,
HRISTOS VAKOUFARIS** & MARIA PSARROU*
*University of the Aegean, Geography, University Hill, Mytilene, Greece **University of the Aegean,
Department of Environmental Studies, University Hill, Mytilene, Greece
ABSTRACT Landscapes are made from different components and elements, some of which are
characterized through their presence and patterns. The assessment of this character is performed
via the identification of landscape characteristics. For agricultural landscapes, such character-
istics can be natural elements or elements of farming systems. Their preservation can be of great
importance in Europe today, and agri-environmental measures have been used towards this goal.
One such characteristic in Greece is cultivation terraces, today widely neglected, as the
cultivations they supported are abandoned or modernized. This paper discusses the effectiveness
of an agri-environmental policy measure for the reconstruction of cultivation terraces in Greece,
with regard to existing practices of farmers. A picture for the whole country is presented and
farmers’ practices are discussed with greater detail through research with farmers that have been
supported on the island of Lesvos. Findings from Lesvos reveal that only part-time and ‘hobby’
farmers have participated and that they acknowledge the productive, conservation and symbolic
value of terraces. In this context, although these farmers are actively farming the fields, terraces
appear to have lost their original functional role in agricultural production and they are mainly
maintained as a decorative element of the form of the landscape by farmers who can afford such
concerns.
KEY WORDS: Cultivation terraces, agri-environmental policy, landscape change, landscape
character, Greece
1. Introduction
One of the uses of the concept of landscape is for the description and understanding
of the interactions between society and environment from different disciplines
(Farina, 2006), resulting in different definitions (Olwig, 1996; Farina, 2006). Apart
from scientific definitions, landscape has been incorporated recently to policy
formulation (Ro
¨ssler, 2006; Turner, 2006). In such approaches (e.g. the European
Correspondence Address: Thanasis Kizos, University of the Aegean, Geography, University Hill, Mytilene,
81100 Greece. Email: akizos@aegean.gr
Landscape Research,
Vol. 35, No. 6, 577–593, December 2010
ISSN 0142-6397 Print/1469-9710 Online/10/060577-17 Ó2010 Landscape Research Group Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/01426397.2010.519434
Downloaded By: [Kizos, Thanasis][HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 07:13 30 November 2010
Landscape Convention) it is recognized that all landscapes have a certain ‘quality’, a
‘‘distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements in the landscape that
makes one landscape different from another’’ (The Countryside Agency and Scottish
Natural Heritage, 2002, p. 8), which is usually referred to as ‘landscape character’.
Landscape character does not evaluate landscapes (which are ‘better’ or ‘worse’): it
merely demonstrates their differences according to the presence of landscape
components, elements or features, or their combinations (Wascher, 2005). The
assessment of landscape character (LCA) is to identify landscape character areas and
types through the systematic analysis of these natural and social landscape attributes
(Kima & Pauleit, 2007), while a different ‘natural landscape character’ is suggested
by Brabyn (2005) and a ‘visual character’ is suggested by Tveit et al. (2006). LCA has
been tested in a number of practical applications (Bishop & Phillips, 2004) and
currently applied in many different national or regional contexts (Wascher, 2005;
Kima & Pauleit, 2007) and is performed via the identification of landscape
‘characteristics’ that are ‘‘typical combinations of elements, design shapes and
proportions’’ (Jessel, 2006, p. 154) and which assign a specific character to a
landscape, make it special or unique.
For agricultural landscapes, such characteristics can be a variety of natural
elements (geology, soil formations, local relief, etc.) or elements of the farming
systems (land uses, management practices, specific elements, etc.). Their preservation
is in general an issue of great importance in Europe today, as some very prominent
agricultural landscapes with very important ecological functions and characteristics
have been recently degraded or destroyed as a result of the abandonment or change
of the farming systems that created and maintained them in the past.
The main policy instrument that has been used in Europe for preserving these
characteristics has been the agri-environmental measures of the Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU. They were introduced in the beginning of
the 1990s as accompanying measures of the CAP, in order to reduce the impact from
agriculture to the environment and support extensive cultivation and animal
husbandry systems. By the end of the 1990s they were integrated with the ‘second
pillar’ of the CAP, rural development. Member States could design, implement and
evaluate their own, under the common rules of a single Regulation (Reg. 1257/99 for
2000 – 2006).
Participation in such programs depends on a number of characteristics of the
farmer and the farm such as the age of the farmer, his/her education, the length of
residency in the area and the ‘farming philosophy’ among others (Wilson, 1996).
Morris and Potter (1995) develop the typology of the adoption of such policy
measures that Wilson (1996, pp. 128–130) uses, arriving at six groups of potential
‘adopters’, according to two dimensions: eligibility for the measure and attitudes of
the farmer. These six groups include ‘active adopters’, ‘passive adopters’,
‘conditional non-adopters’, ‘resistant non-adopters’, potential adopters that are
‘precluded from participation’ and conservation oriented farmers on holdings of
marginal eligibility. Fish et al. (2003, p. 23) distinguish four categories for adopters,
or ‘styles of participation’ (opportunist, modifying, catalysing and enthusiastic)
and four styles of non-participation (disempowered, disinterested, abstaining
and sceptical). All researchers recognize the importance of farmers’ opinions and
attitudes in the success of such agri-environmental schemes, since the desire and
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drive for the preservation of historic landscape features on farms is always related to
complex reasons and rarely on financial motivation alone. Such cases in the
literature include the case of hay meadows discussed by Riley (2006) and placed into
a historic context as well as a financial policy oriented one. Kaljonen (2006) discusses
another case in Finland, Paniagua Mazorra (2001) in Spain, Fish et al. (2003) in the
UK and Falconer (2000) reviews many cases around Europe. All these cases
demonstrate the complexity of farmers’ decisions and the diversity of their views
concerning environmental conservation and protection (see also Bohnet et al., 2003).
The case discussed here, cultivation terraces reconstruction, differs from most agri-
environmental schemes, as it concerns a specific historic landscape characteristic that
is not only unique and of great cultural value, but is also very important locally for
conservation (hay meadows offer some resemblance, Riley, 2006).
In Greece, the initial implementation of agri-environmental measures in the 1990s
was belated, as these were a novelty for Greek agricultural policy (Louloudis &
Beopoulos, 2002). In the 2000 – 2006 programming period, 17 measures that differ
thematically and geographically were approved by the European Commission.
Geographically, some cover the whole territory of Greece (e.g. measure 3.12 on the
reconstruction of terraces) and others specific areas. Thematically, most measures
target the reduction of inputs and favour the landscape character of certain
agricultural landscapes of Greece, that is, specific land management practices that
have shaped characteristic landscapes (olive groves of Amfissa and vineyards of
Santorini) or specific landscape characteristics (hedgerows in Evros and Ioannina
areas and terraces all over Greece). With the exception of organic farming, budgets
were pretty modest and as a result the number of beneficiaries and the size of land
covered are limited. Compared to the implementation in other EU countries (On
˜ate
et al., 2000), implementation in Greece appears as more fragmented and less targeted
towards specific areas or problems or indeed the landscape.
For the ‘traditional’ Greek agricultural landscape, one such landscape characteristic
is cultivation terraces, which are the relatively level surfaces that are created upon
sloping areas via the construction of a dry stone wall. They affect to a large extent the
structures and functions of the landscape and are in general one of the most easily
recognizable landscape elements.
1
Besides creating cultivation space, terraces are
valuable for the conservation of natural resources, as they reduce the speed of surface
runoff water, control erosion if properly maintained, increase water penetration in the
soil, increase root penetration and use abundant rocks (Rackham & Moody, 1996).
Today in most places they are neglected and slowly collapsing. A recent study on soil
erosion threats in the EU (Van-Camp et al., 2004), recognizes that terraced landscapes
in the area face crucial problems due to (p. 209): ‘‘(i) the extensive abandonment of
mountain rural areas and therefore of their soil and water conservation structures and
(ii) intensification in modern agriculture that leads to land levelling operations
destroying the structure of the terraces’’. The study realizes that measures for terrace
conservation ‘‘may not be able to cope with the extensive abandonment of mountain
rural areas’’ and ‘‘the identification of degradation hot spots and sites of particular
interest is needed’’ (Van-Camp et al., 2004, p. 210). In Greece, terraces are in general,
but not exclusively, found in the south and on the islands.
In this paper, the results of the implementation of an agri-environmental measure
for the reconstruction of terraces in Greece are presented as an example of a policy
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measure seeking to preserve characteristics of the agricultural landscape. This is
pursued via the investigation of the farming practices (especially concerning terraces)
of the participants of the measure, the motivations behind their participation in the
light of the typologies presented above and their views on the functions and values of
terraces. In the next section, the methods used are presented, followed by the results
of the implementation of a Greek agri-environmental measure for reconstructing
terraces for the whole country and with greater detail for farmers that have been
financially supported on the island of Lesvos.
2. Methods and Data
To answer the questions this paper addresses, two data sources are used:
a) Official data from the files
2
of the beneficiaries of the agri-environmental
measure (3.12) for terrace reconstruction to prevent soil erosion. This measure
of e35 million total budget for the 2000 – 2006 period (it will be continued in the
2007 – 2013 period), launched for the first time in 2004 with a second call in 2006
for two months at a time. The beneficiaries are farmers with farms in terraced
areas that can receive as much as e35/m
3
of terraces, derived by the maximum
sum per ha (e4.5/ha for grazing lands, e6/ha for arable land and e9/ha for
permanent crops that correspond to building of 12.85, 17 and 25.7 m
3
/ha
respectively). All farms that participate in agri-environmental measures receive
an overall amount of money per hectare and if beneficiaries of the particular
measure are supported by other measures as well, the amount per hectare is
reduced by the amount already received. The data include the Prefecture where
the farm is located, the type of land use (arable, permanent crops, grazing
lands), the area size, the fields and the cubic meters of terraces for each farmer
for each of the two implementation periods in 2004 and 2006.
A total number of 619 beneficiaries were accepted (292 in the first and 327 in
the second call) with 1377.6 ha of total farm land or 2.2 ha/farm (median at 1.2
ha and minimum value 0.04 ha, with the national farm size average at 4.4 ha/
farm). Farms are located in 23 Prefectures (out of the total 52 Greek Prefectures,
Figure 1 and Table 1), most on Lesvos (18.7%, all of which in the second call),
Samos (14.2%) and Cyclades (12.3%), all of which are island Prefectures.
Regarding land use, most terraced areas are on permanent crops (tree crops or
vines) and only in few Prefectures the rest of the land uses are encountered
(Table 1), an expected result, as in grazing lands, terraces collapse faster due to
grazing, while most terraced arable land is abandoned. In agreement with the
general feature of Greek agriculture, the farms are usually fragmented into two
or more plots (of 0.76 ha/ plot average size), with 38.6% of the farms on a single
field, 61.6% on one or two plots, three-quarters on one, two or three plots and
even a small number of cases (2%) with more than 10 plots. These fields may be
located at long distances apart and this fact raises questions on the effectiveness
of the support in terms of restoring continuous terraced landscapes. The average
volume of the terraces is 95 m
3
/ha, but again with great diversity (14% lower
than 4 m
3
/ha and 48.5% higher than 120 m
3
/ha), as local styles and slope
gradients yield different terrace densities and landscapes. The reconstruction of
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Figure 1. Beneficiaries of the terraces reconstruction program in Greece per Prefecture and
call; and total number of beneficiaries and sample ones on the island of Lesvos per settlement
(eight beneficiaries living in Athens were excluded).
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Table 1. Distribution of the terraced areas of the beneficiaries’ farms per Prefecture and land use, average volume of terraces in their farms and
percentage of the average volume that can be supported by the program
Prefecture 1
st
call 2
nd
call Total %
Average
area (ha)
Permanent
crops (N)
Arable
land (N)
Grazing
lands (N)
Mean
volume/ha
(m
3
/ha)
%of
average
volume that
can be
supported
by the program
Argolida 34 10 44 7.1 2.80 40 10 1 82 31.3
Arkadia 9 9 1.5 4.57 7 2 2 23 111.7
Arta 4 3 7 1.1 1.93 7 2 34 75.6
Dodekanisa 10 6 16 2.6 2.19 15 2 1 98 26.2
Zakinthos 1 6 7 1.1 2.13 7 73 35.2
Kavala 20 7 27 4.4 1.90 27 108 23.8
Kerkira 11 1 12 1.9 1.17 11 1 1 101 25.4
Korinthos 3 3 6 1.0 4.31 3 5 2 91 28.2
Cyclades 76 76 12.3 1.82 70 5 9 76 33.8
Lakonia 5 12 17 2.7 1.51 13 4 1 111 23.2
Larisa 14 12 26 4.2 1.93 19 5 2 110 23.4
Lasithi 2 2 .3 .94 1 1 91 28.2
Lesvos 116 116 18.7 3.71 111 2 14 83 31.0
Lefkada 20 14 34 5.5 1.07 33 5 1 107 24.0
Messinia 42 17 59 9.5 1.64 59 103 25.0
Peiraia 19 11 30 4.8 2.70 28 2 110 23.4
Rethimno 6 19 25 4.0 2.22 22 1 4 108 23.8
Samos 21 67 88 14.2 1.24 88 1 116 22.2
Trikalon 2 2 4 .6 .53 2 129 19.9
Fokida 2 2 .3 .22 2 49 52.4
Halkidiki 1 1 .2 9.25 1 1 28 91.8
Hanion 3 6 9 1.5 1.84 9 88 29.2
Hios 1 1 2 .3 1.35 2 128 20.1
Total 292 327 619 100.0 2.22 577 46 41 95 27.1
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a limited percentage of this volume can be supported by the program (27%
approximately on average, Table 1).
b) Interviews with beneficiary farmers from the island of Lesvos. The face-to-face
interviews were conducted with the use of a semi-structured questionnaire to
gather information on their economic and farming profiles (i.e. the number of
the members of each household, their age, occupations and incomes from each
source they declared, the time each member spent on the farms, the workers they
employed, the size of the farm, the number of fields and the management
practices) and investigate their practices relating to the maintenance of terraces
before the support (if, when and why they had maintained them in the past) and
their views on the value of terraces in the landscape of Lesvos. These data are
used to investigate the motivations behind their participation in the measure in
relation with their practices and characteristics. Most of the opinion questions
asked were pre-codified in Likert-type scales, while some opinions and the
causes of the destruction of terraces were recorded in open-ended questions.
Descriptive statistics and cross tabulations to estimate statistical significant
relationships between the variables were used to analyse the data. From the
overall 116 beneficiaries in 2006, 30 were selected via systematic sampling (from
the list of the beneficiaries one of every four was selected and if he/she was not
available then the next one was selected excluding eight beneficiaries that reside
permanently in Athens
3
) and were interviewed during January – March 2007.
The case study area, Lesvos Island, is one of the largest islands in the Aegean
(1632.8 km
2
), with a population of 89,935 (in 2001). The main settlement is the
capital Mytilini (36,196 inhabitants in 2001, or roughly 40% of the islands’
population including the immediate suburbs). The number of farms has reduced
recently (20%, from 22,799 in 1971 to 18,132 in 2001), but agriculture is still quite
important, especially in rural areas. Kizos and Spilanis (2004) distinguish three
agricultural landscape zones (Figure 1): i) the grazing lands zone, consisting mainly
of barren grazing lands, where deteriorating terraces (due to grazing of sheep and
goats) are encountered, along with many animal husbandry constructions (barns,
stables, watering ponds) and dry stonewalls; ii) the olive plantation zone, where
terraces are the dominant element of a continuous terraced olive groves landscape.
Many neglected or collapsing terraces lying on abandoned or cultivated fields are
encountered, but there are also some that are maintained very efficiently and
professionally; iii) the intermediate zone, with elements of both other zones and
where (some maintained, others neglected or collapsing) terraces are a dominant
element of the landscape as well. Some typical terraced landscapes found in these
zones are depicted in Figure 2.
3. Policy and Management of Preserving Cultivation Terraces on Lesvos
Overall, 116 farmers on Lesvos were accepted during the first and the second
periods of the measure, the single highest number of beneficiaries (Table 1). During
the first call there were no applications, as the measure was new and—according to
the respondents and our experience—poorly supported by farmer consultants
(usually they guide farmers into such measures and none from the ones we talked to
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had a clear idea of the particular one) or the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives or
the Directorate of Rural Development and Food of Lesvos. Moreover, the fact that
those that already are beneficiaries of other agri-environmental measures (especially
organic farming) can receive only a small fraction of the overall amount of money
per hectare is limiting. In the sample, almost equal numbers of farmers ‘discovered’
the call themselves through the Internet, or were informed either by others already
applying or by more typical sources (local municipalities or farm consultants).
Most of the beneficiaries live in Mytilini (30%), followed by those who live in the
small town of Agiassos (14%), the rest being distributed around the island
(Figure 1), and 3.5% of the beneficiaries living in Athens and having farms on the
island. These ‘absentee’ beneficiaries are typical examples of a common phenomenon
in rural areas of Greece, as many out-migrants that live today in urban areas still
hold close ties with their ‘homelands’, keep houses there, keep farms, often visit, vote
there and even participate in conservation and investment policy measures (see
Damianakos, 2002, for more examples and discussion). In the sample of the
research, most beneficiaries are men (87%) of middle age (53.6 years old on average,
none younger than 38 and none older than 70) with households of 3.8 members on
average (14% are two member and 28% more than four member households).
Geographically, most live, as expected, in the olives and intermediate landscape
zones, but this spatial allocation is only indicative, as most of the beneficiaries in the
sample have plots scattered in more than one settlement. One beneficiary that lives in
the capital and is a civil worker (so is his wife) applied for ‘‘the fields that my father
Figure 2. Typical terraced landscapes of Lesvos: A) olive plantation on parallel terraces (not
very common); B) grazing land for sheep on braided terraces (former arable land, very
common on the grazing lands zone); C) olive plantation on pocket terraces (around individual
trees, very common in the olive plantation and intermediate zones); D) olive plantation on
combination of braided and pocket terraces (common in the olive plantation and intermediate
zones).
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gave me in Gera [approx. 20 km from the city] and my mother’s fields in Vatousa
[approx. 80 km from the city] . . . Personally I am more interested in the ones in Gera
that I will pass to my two sons and that have more value as they are close to the
road.’’ This is something typical for most owners: separate fields are considered and
inherited as separate assets and can be important for the reasons that households
may choose (or not) to participate in this measure. Answers such as the one above
suggest that some beneficiaries are ‘active adopters’ but for reasons that exceed
typical conservation thinking and encompass economic and social issues and
concerns as well.
Regarding occupation, only one of the beneficiaries in the sample (3.4%) has
declared being a farmer, the rest being mostly civil servants (33.4%), professionals in
services (30%), pensioners (20%), employees (6.6%) and housewives, students (3.4%
each). All households in the sample have at least one source of income off farm
(including pensions) and most of them (63.4%) have two sources of off-farm income
(the maximum number is four different off-farm income sources), the majority from
civil servants (30%) and employees (23.3%). The beneficiary that declared being a
farmer as her major occupation is 48 years old in a four-member household with a
husband of 50 that also works in the 7.5 ha farm they hold (their two children are
still students). The husband also works in services, but they both identify themselves
as ‘farmers’, even though at least half of their family income comes from off-farm
sources. The cases of housewives and students refer to households that have chosen
to have their fields ‘written’ (i.e. passed, inherited or donated) on the member that
does not hold an off-farm full time occupation to make them more easily eligible for
subsidies. Regarding farm work (i.e. all the work that the management of the farm
requires, either by the members of the household or by hired workers, usually foreign
immigrants), 40% declare that they do not use workers and do everything
themselves; 46.7% say that they work in the farm occasionally and hire workers
to help them during harvest and in some cases in pruning; and only 13.3% that they
do not work in their farm at all anymore. The latter four cases are owners older than
65 that only supervise hired workers.
Regarding farm and household incomes (Table 2), farm incomes of the farms in
the sample are low in general, as 62% have declared farm incomes lower than e5000,
34.5% farm incomes of e5000 to e10,000 and only one farm (3.5%) makes e10,000
to e15,000, in agreement with the official tax data of 2003 (i.e. the money that
farmers declare for taxation at the end of the year), which raise the average incomes
from farming on the island at e8129, but with 50% of the tax payers declaring
Table 2. Farm and household incomes for households in the sample
Farm
incomes (e)
Household incomes (e)
10.000–15.000 15.000–20.000 20.000–25.000 425.000 % (N)
55.000 11.1% 11.1% 38.9% 38.9% 62% (18)
5.000–10.000 10% 40% 30% 20% 34.5% (10)
10.000–15.000 100% 3.5% (1)
% (N) 10.3% (3) 20.7% (6) 34.5% (10) 34.5% (10) (29)
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farming incomes lower than e6000. Moreover, farm incomes are not correlated with
the occupation of the beneficiary or farm work, but are correlated positively and
weakly with the size of the farm (Spearman’s r¼.395, s¼.031, N¼30). These low
farm incomes are unsurprising considering that all households are part-time farmers
and have off-farm incomes. It has to be noted though that some declarations of low
farm incomes could be underestimated. Several explanations can be offered: one is
related to extensive tax evasion in Greece that has made the declaration of actual
incomes a sensitive issue even in such anonymous researches (one respondent that
runs his own small firm laughed at this point of the interview remarking that ‘‘I hope
you won’t go to the tax service with these data’’). Another explanation could be
related to the type of income that some households expect from their farms: some do
not expect incomes at all, but olive oil for home consumption, which is an indirect
income but it is not ‘officially’ accounted as an income source; others may expect
more ‘official’ (i.e. monetary) incomes. Finally, production and incomes are related
to the amount and the type of work one is willing to invest in the farm. Since all
households are part-timers, some view farm work as a hobby and perhaps income is
not their main interest in their farm, but instead they prefer to have a part-time
occupation ‘close to nature’ and/or ‘preserve’ their fields for their children, since
olive fields are cultural as well as economic assets (‘my father gave me these fields and
I want to pass them to my son’, a civil worker remarked).
Household incomes are significantly higher, with 34.5% of the households making
more than e25,000 (households with two civil servants are among those with the
highest incomes) and only 10% making less than e15,000. These incomes are
significantly higher than the average family income from the tax records of 2003 that
stands at e11,167 (only 10% have declared tax income higher than e25,000),
indicating that the beneficiaries are of the highest income class of the island.
Household incomes are not correlated with farm incomes, the employment of the
beneficiary or the size of the farm, but there is a statistically significant relationship
with farm work (Pearson’s Chi-square ¼12.67, s¼0.049, N¼30), with those that
declare that work in the farm occasionally to make the highest incomes. A closer
comparison of farm and household incomes reveals that only one household in the
sample has declared farm incomes that are of an income class lower than household
income (farm income in the e5000 to e10,000 class and household income in the
e10,000 to e15,000 class). In all the other households, their household incomes are at
least two income classes higher than farm incomes. This is a clear indication that
practically none of the beneficiaries in the sample are professional farmers.
Most of the farms have olive plantations (90%) of size 4.21 ha on average in 4.26
plots on average, the rest being grazing lands (6.7%, of 10.05 ha on average) and
other tree cultivations (3.3%, of 1.4 ha on average). In all cases the farms are active,
even if the beneficiaries or their households are not themselves working on the farm
and supervise hired immigrant workers. Their practices include (Table 3) pruning (in
93% of the farms), ploughing of the olives understorey (31% of the farms),
fertilization (in 38% of the farms), chemical plant protection (in 38% of the farms),
irrigation (in 45% of the farms), and 24% of the farms have at least one organic plot.
The combinations of these practices indicate that the beneficiaries in the sample are
actually farming their farms (Table 3), even if they keep their practices to a minimum
(mostly pruning and picking of the olives). It has to be noted here that the extensive
586 T. Kizos et al.
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Table 3. Farming practices combinations for households in the sample
Combination
of practices N% Pruning
Ploughing of
understorey Fertilisation
Chemical plant
protection Irrigation Organic
Mixed arable
cultivation
Grazing
(number of farms)
1 4 13.8 ü1
2 4 13.8 ü ü ü ü 1
3 3 10.3 ü ü ü 1
4 3 10.3 ü ü 2
526.9
ü ü ü
626.9
ü ü 1
726.9
ü ü ü
826.9
ü ü ü ü 2
913.4 ü1
10 1 3.4 ü ü ü ü 1
11 1 3.4 ü ü ü ü 1
12 1 3.4 ü ü ü 1
13 1 3.4 ü ü ü
14 1 3.4 ü ü 1
15 1 3.4 ü ü
Total 29 100 27 9 11 11 13 7 13
% of total 93.1 31.0 37.9 37.9 44.8 24.1 0.0 44.8
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cultivation of olive trees, which require relatively limited cultivation practices and
inputs such as irrigation, fertilization and plant protection from diseases and pests, is
helpful in this regard. This finding partly agrees with the findings of Kizos and
Koulouri (2010) on the management of olive plantations on Lesvos, that found that
a number of olive farmers, especially part-time farmers, manage their olive
plantations by this minimum practices style. Finally, the majority of the farms are
not grazed (53%), the rest being grazed by sheep and goat (36.6%), horses (3.3%)
and animals that enter the fields to graze, with or without the owners’ consent. Ten
years ago, more sheep and goats grazed the farms in the sample (50% of the farms
were grazed). The case of practices is again indicative of different production ‘modes’
of the households of the sample. Even if all are part-timers and actively farming their
farms, some farm more intensively than others, with workers or on their own. This
fact seems again important for the reasons that households may choose (or not) to
participate in this measure. Clearly, for some households incomes are not a very
important issue (although of course they welcome the support of the measure), but
conservation may not also be the prime motive behind participation and other social
issues appear to be involved.
Terraces in the farms in the sample are, according to the owners, of average
quality. The fact that terraces in different plots are of different quality makes an
overall assessment of their quality very difficult. Most of the beneficiaries in the
sample say that they have maintained at least a part of their terraces in the past
(60%). The last time they maintained their terraces could be a recent date (up to five
years for half of those that say that have maintained their terraces), or a decade back
(for 33.3% of those that say that have maintained their terraces), or up to 25 years
ago. Despite having applied for such a measure, 16.7% of the beneficiaries say that
they will not maintain their terraces in the future, all because they are not very
satisfied with the measure so far (in total 56.7% of the beneficiaries are not satisfied,
at least for the time being). Dissatisfaction is partly justified, considering that a
formal requirement is that the action should extend over a time period of five years
and they should maintain parts of their terraces each year. Most of the beneficiaries
we talked to claim rightly that this is financially destructive, as they have to pay
workers each year, and useless in practice, as at most two years would be more than
enough: ‘‘it is very hard to find a craftsman for the terraces; the one I found was
booked for six months as many people build with stone. What can I say to them?
Make some terraces now and come back next year to make some more? This is
simply not possible’’, remarked a retired agronomist. ‘‘It is very expensive to
maintain [terraces] on your own and this [measure] is welcome, although I don’t
know what they will do with the five year thing’’, a professional living in the capital
claims.
Regarding the landscape of terraced fields, a retired agronomist focused more on
the soil and moisture benefits of the reconstruction: ‘‘Have you seen how much soil a
single terrace can retain? [after one of us answers ‘yes’ he continues] All this soil gets
washed away if the wall is broken. They made a dust road under the slope in one of
my fields and some terraces were broken there and I watched the soil get washed
away each year.’’ It has to be noted though that no other respondent spontaneously
mentioned conservation or ecological or environmental or even productive concerns
linked with the reconstruction of terraces. Most focused more on social issues,
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that is, the ‘proper’ appearance of the fields, with cleared olive trees understoreys,
pruned and managed trees, preserved terraces and fenced, in an image of ‘good
farmship’, a hard working and ‘tidy’ farmer that takes good care of his/her land. A
typical response stresses that ‘‘it is much better now that the terraced are remade
[showing some pictures before and after their maintenance] and the fields look more
‘orderly’ and more like fields’’ according to a civil worker that works his fields with
the help of workers and was enthusiastic on the measure and kept on telling us that
the reconstruction of terraces was ‘‘badly needed’’ and should be broader and for
more beneficiaries. For some others, the financial motive was also important: a
professional constructor that uses stone craftsmen in his non-farm occupation
claims that ‘‘the money is not that much but it is OK, especially if they let us manage
the work as we see fit [referring to the five year plan] . . . for someone like me
who can not apply for other measures since I am not considered a farmer this is a
good thing’’.
Many more beneficiaries in the sample seem to be familiar with the functions of
terraces in their fields and their opinions are very positive towards them and their
maintenance. In the Likert-type opinion questions, all of them agree that terraces are
an important part of the local landscape and most (76.6%) recognize that terraces
today are of lower quality than in the past. All agree that terraces ‘‘protect soil from
erosion’’; all but one that they are ‘‘part of the local cultural heritage’’ and all
consider that their degradation and destruction will change the landscape
significantly. Most of the beneficiaries (70%) do not feel that terraces ‘‘get in the
way of management practices’’ in their fields (10% say that they do ‘‘get in the way’’
and the rest neither agree nor disagree). Therefore, it seems that even if conservation
is not the prime motive for most, it is still a part of their overall thinking for many of
the beneficiaries.
Finally, regarding the reasons terraces are destroyed, most say that heavy rains are
one of the reasons (76.6%; e.g. ‘‘sometimes there comes a really heavy rain and then
the real damage is done’’), the second most common answer being the ‘‘natural
degradation’’ of the terrace due to its age (43.3%; e.g. ‘‘what do you expect after so
many years? It will be destroyed little by little’’), followed by grazing of the field
(36.6%; e.g. ‘‘sheep can make damage, but goats are the worst, they make openings
and walk up and down the seti [terrace, in local dialect]’’). This particular answer was
stressed very much from farmers that have animals passing through their fields and
grazing them, often without their permission: ‘‘I don’t have a fence, I should put one
up, they keep passing through the field with the animals and it is [the plot] far away,
there is nothing you can do.’’ Only 13.3% of the beneficiaries in the sample consider
the insufficient maintenance of terraces as a reason for their collapse, close to the
percentage of those that claim that the way a terrace is built is very important (10%).
In the many different combinations heavy rains were most of the time the first factor
noted.
4. Discussion and Conclusions
Cultivation terraces are landscape elements that assign character to a landscape.
Extended terraced landscapes indicate local knowledge of soil and water conditions
in an area and particular stone craftsmanship apart from time and money
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investment. Such terrace systems can be used for characterizing a landscape (e.g.
Mucher et al. [2003] that create a first attempt for a European-wide character
typology) in a field where Greece has limited experience so far. In this context, the
measure for reconstructing and maintaining terraces is positive, as it recognizes their
potential and their ecological and symbolic role in landscape characterization and
assessment, while pursuing environmental goals.
Results of the implementation reveal that the overall agri-environmental measures
structure creates some obstacles for potential beneficiaries with a) the fixed overall
amount for the beneficiaries restricting those that already participate in another
program; b) the fixed time period of five years for making the terraces; and c) the
delay of its first call (in the spring of 2004). Especially since regular maintenance is
not annual, the particular structure of the measure contradicts farmers’ practices and
common sense. At the same time, the measure lacks regional differentiation, due to
the lack of knowledge for presence and style of terraces. The findings suggest that
terraces around Greece vary in styles, structures and craftsmanship and our personal
experience verifies these differences. However, it appears that the implementation
agencies are more interested in the formal requirements of the program (financial
transparency, accountability, etc.) rather than spatial differences and its actual
impact. This is a common problem of agri-environmental programs with a short
history in Greece (Louloudis & Beopoulos, 2002) and so far their content and
practices seem to be ‘distant’ for some farmers.
The most important finding from Lesvos reveals that part-time and ‘hobby’
farmers are mostly, if not exclusively, attracted to this program. Regarding the
typologies of such agri-environmental measures adopters, farmers of the sample can
all be considered as ‘active adopters’, as their attitudes towards the measure are very
positive and since this is the first time the particular measure has been applied, they
can also be considered pioneers. Most of the farmers of the sample can also be
categorized in the ‘opportunist’ participation style of Fish et al.’s (2003) typology, in
which the practices of the measure are already existing practices of the farm and the
measure is viewed as a ‘‘calculated way of increasing net income on existing
practices’’, while ‘‘expressing an interest in the ideas and goals of the scheme’’ (p. 30).
For some, the category of ‘catalysing participation’ also applies, in which
conservation work is undertaken ‘‘as part of agreement that would otherwise have
proved financially prohibitive’’ that regards the practices involved as ‘‘supplemen-
tary and desirable, rather than integral and necessary’’ (p. 32). None have modified
their existing practices as a result of the participation in the project (‘modifying
participation’ style) and it seems that very few if any can be considered as employing
a style of ‘enthusiastic participation’ in the sense that they ‘‘gained knowledge about
the nature and management of their landscapes through the scheme’’ (p. 32). As Fish
et al. (2003, p. 23) assert, these styles of participation ‘‘are by no means mutually
exclusive: land managers frequently take different approaches with respect to
different parts of their farms and different types of landscape feature’’ (p. 30).
Another reason for the participation of ‘hobby’ farmers can be the fact that they
are not eligible for most of the rest of the actions of rural development measures in
Greece. At the same time, ‘professional’ farmers theoretically have another outlet to
finance terraces maintenance: financing of farm investments through the rest of the
rural development measures, with financing percentages that can reach 68% of the
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total cost for young farmers in Less Favoured Areas. A brief and exploratory look at
the files of these investments indicates that very few choose to include terraces in the
investments they undertake. Some probably regard terrace maintenance as a
financial burden and not an investment that can help in production, as most of the
new functions of modern farming are not ‘compatible’ with terraces. Therefore, since
the rules of participation exclude very few of the total farming population (the exact
number is unknown), farmers that have not participated in the measure can be
considered as ‘disinterested’ in the Fish et al. (2003) typology due to the low amount
of money for the work involved and the restriction for the total amount per farmer
for those that are already participating in another measure.
At the same time, some of the many part-time farmers on the island, with high off-
farm incomes, can afford to care about terraces, and actions like the one discussed
here are very well suited. However, the findings indicate that these part-time farmers
are actively farming their farms and this seems to be a strong driving force behind
applying for this program. They also acknowledge the symbolic value of terraces, as
they recognize that they characterize the landscape of Lesvos (even if they seem to
confuse causes and results, as they regard the collapse of terraces as a result of rains,
while the actual result is the lack of their maintenance due to abandonment). In this
context, terraces appear to have lost part of their original functional role in
production and are maintained as a ‘decorative’ element in the landscape by farmers
that can ‘afford’ such concerns.
Therefore, agri-environmental measures for preserving agricultural landscape
elements with environmental functions, such as the one examined here, can be more
effective if they provide motives to farmers for adopting practices that conserve these
elements and not by assisting the preservation of the form of the landscape. With this
structure the purely financial motivation that current agri-environmental measures
employ could be ‘bypassed’ and reward the outcomes of the practices in terms of
environmental services they provide. This structure is possible only by understanding
the original farmer practices that have created this landscape in the past and attempt
to assign to these elements a new role in modern farming practices, as only if they are
functional they will be maintained without financial assistance.
Notes
1. Terraces are classified in three major types (Rackham & Moody, 1996): step (in straight lines or parallel
to contours), braided (that zigzag the slope) and pocket (around individual trees). The first two types
are used for most land uses (arable land, garden crops, tree crops and grazing lands), while the last for
tree crops, mostly olive trees in the Aegean (Grove & Rackham, 2002).
2. Each applicant for participating in the measure submitted an application accompanied by a ‘file’ with
the features of his/her farm (area size, type of land use, ownership contracts), information about the
terraces (volume). We had access to some of the information of these files.
3. Absentee landowners are a reality in rural areas of Greece. Many owners migrated to urban areas or
abroad in the period 1951 – 1981 when rural depopulation reached its apogee in the country, most keeping
part if not all their farms. When the land use includes cultivations such as olive trees or vines, many
absentees still collect the fruits with the use of workers to gain an extra income and/or use the products for
home consumption. On Lesvos, 35% of the population of the island migrated from 1951 to 1991 and
more have moved to the capital. The extent of the land they own is unknown and certainly differs across
the island. According to our experience though, many manage their plantations with workers or with
members of the family still living on the island in exchange for a percentage of the product.
Preserving Characteristics of the Agricultural Landscape 591
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The overall goal of this doctoral programme was to contribute to the study of cultural landscapes and cultural ecosystem services within the Natura 2000 protected areas in Greece. Biodiversity conservation is the specific angle from which this research views landscapes. Our methods are interdisciplinary. In this way, novel steps could be taken to inventory, survey, and to assess the complex concept of cultural landscapes. We hope this contribution may provide conservation-relevant approaches for Greece's evolving protected area system. This dissertation is presented in the English language with an extended introduction and concise summary of synthesis and proposals in Greek. The main aspect of the work concerns three peer-reviewed scientific papers and a completed manuscript from research undertaken within the doctorate program between June 2015 to June 2020.
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Agriculture terraces constitute a significant element of the Mediterranean landscape, enabling crop production on steep slopes while protecting land from desertification. Despite their ecological and historical value, terrace cultivation is threatened by climate change leading to abandonment and further marginalization of arable land imposing serious environmental and community hazards. Re-cultivation of terraced landscapes could be an alternative strategy to mitigate the climate change impacts in areas of high vulnerability encouraging a sustainable agroecosystem to ensure food security, rural development and restrain land desertification. The article presents the case study of abandoned terrace re-cultivation in the Aegean Island of Andros, using a climate smart agriculture system, which involves the establishment of an extensive meteorological network to monitor the local climate and hydrometeorological forecasting. Along with terrace site mapping and soil profiling the perfomance of cereal and legume crops was assessed in a low-input agriculture system. The implementation of a land stewardship (LS) plan was indispensable to overcome mainly land fragmentation issues and to transfer know-how. It was found that climate data are key drivers for crop cultivation and production in the island rainfed farming system. The study revealed that terrace soil quality could be improved through cultivation to support food safety and stall land degradation. In line with global studies this research suggest that cultivation of marginal terraced land is timely through a climate smart agriculture system as a holistic approach to improve land quality and serve as means to combat climate change impacts. The study also discusses land management and policy approaches to address the issue of agricultural land abandonment and the benefits gained through cultivation to the local community, economy and environment protection and sustainability.
... The development of more modernized agriculture and the rural exodus events have significantly contributed, in general, to the marginalization of traditional agriculture practices [11] and consequently the abandonment of TAS [21], and their transformation to uphill cultivations in many regions [12,22]. Many authors [7,23,24] highlighted some issues related to the conservation of TAS across the Mediterranean, which can be summarized in four key problems: changes in landscapes use and management, hydrological instability due to rainfall regime changes, soil erosion and slope failures and loss of traditional knowledge associated with traditional agriculture practices used in TAS. ...
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Terraced agroecosystems (TAS)—apart from being an important cultural heritage element—are considered vital for sustainable water resource management and climate change adaptation measures. However, this traditional form of agriculture, with direct implications in food security at a local scale, has been suffering from abandonment or degradation worldwide. In light of this, the need to fully comprehend the complex linkage of their abandonment with different driving forces is essential. The identification of these dynamics makes possible an appropriate intervention with local initiatives and policies on a larger scale. Therefore, the main aim of this paper is to introduce a comprehensive multidisciplinary framework that maps the dynamics of the investigated TAS’s abandonment, by defining cause–effect relationships on a hydrogeological, ecological and social level, through tools from System Dynamics studies. This methodology is implemented in the case of Assaragh TAS, a traditional oasis agroecosystem in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas, characterized by data scarcity. Through field studies, interviews, questionnaires and freely accessible databases, the TAS’s abandonment, leading to a loss in agrobiodiversity, is linked to social rather than climatic drives. Additionally, measures that can counteract the phenomenon and strengthen the awareness of the risks associated with climate change and food security are proposed.
... The development of more modernized agriculture and the rural exodus events have significantly contributed, in general, to the marginalization of traditional agriculture practices [11] and consequently the abandonment of TAS [21], and their transformation to uphill cultivations in many regions [12,22]. Many authors [7,23,24] highlighted some issues related to the conservation of TAS across the Mediterranean, which can be summarized in four key problems: changes in landscapes use and management, hydrological instability due to rainfall regime changes, soil erosion and slope failures and loss of traditional knowledge associated with traditional agriculture practices used in TAS. ...
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Terraced agroecosystems (TAS)—apart from being an important cultural heritage element—are considered vital for sustainable water resource management and climate change adaptation measures. However, this traditional form of agriculture, with direct implications in food security at a local scale, has been suffering from abandonment or degradation worldwide. In light of this, the need to fully comprehend the complex linkage of their abandonment with different driving forces is essential. The identification of these dynamics makes possible an appropriate intervention with local initiatives and policies on a larger scale. Therefore, the main aim of this paper is to introduce a comprehensive multidisciplinary framework that maps the dynamics of the investigated TAS’s bandonment, by defining cause–effect relationships on a hydrogeological, ecological and social level, through tools from System Dynamics studies. This methodology is implemented in the case of Assaragh TAS, a traditional oasis agroecosystem in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas, characterized by data scarcity. Through field studies, interviews, questionnaires and freely accessible databases, the TAS’s abandonment, leading to a loss in agrobiodiversity, is linked to social rather than climatic drives. Additionally, measures that can counteract the phenomenon and strengthen the awareness of the risks ssociated with climate change and food security are proposed.
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