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Cultivated terraces distinctively mark the landscape and are a result of human adaptation to steep areas. Terraces were studied with regard to their morphometric qualities, ownership structure, and land use at eight pilot sites in various landscape types in Slovenia. Twenty-six detailed interviews were carried out with local residents and experts. In current agricultural practice, terraces mostly represent obstacles, and for owners they create a loss rather than profit; however, they represented an advantage in the past, when they were cultivated manually. Land use is intensifying on economically profitable terraces. Among those examined, the Jeruzalem terraces stand out because these are the youngest ones (created in socialist Yugoslavia around 1965). Because of their aesthetic value, they are the best known among the public. Profitability in particular will be an important driving force for the future maintenance of terraces.
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Acta geographica Slovenica, 57-2, 2017, 83–97
CULTIVATED TERRACES IN
SLOVENIAN LANDSCAPES
Mateja Šmid Hribar, Matjaž Geršič, Primož Pipan, Peter Repolusk,
Jernej Tiran, Maja Topole, Rok Ciglič
A terraced olive grove in Krkavče.
MIHA PAVŠEK
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M. Šmid Hribar, M. Geršič, P. Pipan, P. Repolusk, J. Tiran, M. Topole, R. Ciglič, Cultivated terraces in Slovenian landscapes
Cultivated terraces in Slovenian landscapes
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3986/AGS.4597
UDC: 911.53:631.613(497.4)
COBISS: 1.01
ABSTRACT: Cultivated terraces distinctively mark the landscape and are aresult of human adaptation to
steep areas. Terraces were studied with regard to their morphometric qualities, ownership structure, and
land use at eight pilot sites in various landscape types in Slovenia. Twenty-six detailed interviews were car-
ried out with local residents and experts. In current agricultural practice, terraces mostly represent obstacles,
and for owners they create aloss rather than profit; however, they represented an advantage in the past,
when they were cultivated manually. Land use is intensifying on economically profitable terraces. Among
those examined, the Jeruzalem terraces stand out because these are the youngest ones (created in socialist
Yugoslavia around 1965). Because of their aesthetic value, they are the best known among the public. Profitability
in particular will be an important driving force for the future maintenance of terraces.
KEYWORDS: geography, terraces, cultural landscape, terraced landscape, cultural heritage, Slovenia
The article was submitted for publication on 3rd June, 2016.
ADDRESSES:
Mateja Šmid Hribar, Ph.D.
Anton Melik Geographical Institute
Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Gosposka ulica 13, SI – 1000 Ljubljana
E-mail: mateja.smid@zrc-sazu.si
Matjaž Geršič, Ph.D.
Anton Melik Geographical Institute
Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Gosposka ulica 13, SI – 1000 Ljubljana
E-mail: matjaz.gersic@zrc-sazu.si
Primož Pipan, Ph.D.
Anton Melik Geographical Institute
Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Gosposka ulica 13, SI – 1000 Ljubljana
E-mail: primoz.pipan@zrc-sazu.si
Peter Repolusk
Anton Melik Geographical Institute
Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Gosposka ulica 13, SI – 1000 Ljubljana
E-mail: peter.repolusk@zrc-sazu.si
Jernej Tiran, Ph.D.
Anton Melik Geographical Institute
Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Gosposka ulica 13, SI – 1000 Ljubljana
E-mail: jernej.tiran@zrc-sazu.si
84
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Maja Topole, Ph.D.
Anton Melik Geographical Institute
Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Gosposka ulica 13, SI – 1000 Ljubljana
E-mail: maja.topole@zrc-sazu.si
Rok Ciglič, Ph.D.
Anton Melik Geographical Institute
Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Gosposka ulica 13, SI – 1000 Ljubljana
E-mail: rok.ciglic@zrc-sazu.si
Acta geographica Slovenica, 57-2, 2017
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M. Šmid Hribar, M. Geršič, P. Pipan, P. Repolusk, J. Tiran, M. Topole, R. Ciglič, Cultivated terraces in Slovenian landscapes
1 Introduction
Cultivated terraces are step-shaped relief forms on inclined land (Križaj Smrdel 2010), which ranks them
among the distinctive elements of cultural landscapes. They are aresponse to human adaptation to nat-
ural conditions in steep areas. Adistinction is made between irrigated and dry terraces (Rivera 2012).
Generations of people invested enormous amounts of labor in their construction, and in many places they
completely changed the appearance of the landscape. In places, in developed civilizations they appeared
in an organized manner over millennia, and in others they were created spontaneously. Slovenia is criss-
crossed by terraces to an extent rarely found in other European countries. In certain places they are so
important that one can speak of terraced landscapes, whereas in others they are less distinct and can only
be discerned through detailed studies (Kladnik et al. 2016).
As aunique landscape system terraced landscapes were recognized at the global level at the confer-
ence on terraced landscapes held in Mengzi, China, where the Honghe declaration on the protection and
development of global terraced civilizations was adopted (Peters and Junchao 2012). The terraced land-
scapes of eastern, southeast, and southern Asia have been discussed by various authors: for example,
Liu et al. (2004) studied water flow on terraces, and Min and Zhiyong (2012) wrote about the role of women
in working terraced areas among the Hani people. Classification of terraced landscapes in Africa was car-
ried out by Rose (2008), and in South America manmade terraces in the Andes were studied by Goodman
Elgar (2002) and Kendall (2012), among others; Kendall dedicated special attention to terraces as
amethod of adapting the land for food production. In Europe, there is apredominance of studies on ter-
race management (e.g., Stanchi et al. 2012; Tarolli, Preti and Romano 2014) and the consequences of their
overgrowth (e.g., Höchtl, Lehringer and Konold 2005). The economic role of cultivating land in terraces
in the Alpine countries has been dealt with in Italy (Scaramelini and Varoto 2008), Switzerland (Lavaux 2007),
and France (Jeddou et al. 2008). Špulerová et al. (2017) described the qualities of terraced landscapes in
Slovakia. Andlar, Šrajer and Trojanović (2017) studied solutions for avoiding the deterioration of the ter-
raced cultural landscape, which is occurring in Croatia due to accelerated deagrarization and rapid tourism
development. In Slovenia, cultivated terraces have long been amarginal topic, and they were only inves-
tigated in detail in Istria by Titl (1965). The first detailed analyses were made of the Gorizia Hills (Goriška
Brda) (Ažman Momirski et al. 2008) and the Brkini Hills (Ažman Momirski and Kladnik 2015). Terracing
across all of Slovenia was studied by Ažman Momirski and Kladnik (2009) and Križaj Smrdel (2010).
Kladnik et al. (2016) offered detailed data on terraced landscapes in Slovenia.
Despite the important role of terraced landscapes in the Slovenian economy and their landscape func-
tion, there is still no detailed study at the national level that 1) presents the attitude of owners and experts
toward terraces, and 2) examines their multiple importance. This article studies the characteristics of cul-
tivated terraces and their use at selected pilot sites in various Slovenian landscape types. It is hypothesized
that the share of privately owned overgrown terraced land is smaller than that of publicly owned land of
this type.
2 Methods
Eight pilot sites or settlements were selected (Figure 1) within eight of the nine landscape types according
to Perkos (1998, 2007, 2015) classification of Slovenia. The pilot sites have an above-average share of ter-
raced land in comparison to the proportion of terraces in individual landscape types. The final selection
was made based on the morphometric characteristics of the terraces (inclination, aspect, and elevation),
the researchers’ own judgement of their aesthetic value (visual impact), and public awareness of them. No
pilot site was selected in the Pannonian plains landscape type, where only 0.05% of the land is terraced.
The pilot sites were studied using acombination of desk work and fieldwork. The sites were first stud-
ied using digital orthophotos (Digitalni ortofoto posnetek 2015), and then shaded relief, which was created
with the help of laser scanning data (LIDAR 2015). Because laser scanning can also detect relief forma-
tions if the site is covered by vegetation, it can provide data for very accurate digital elevation model (DEM)
86
Figure 1: Map of landscape types and pilot sites. p
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RUT
MERČE
RODINE
KRKAVČE
SMOLEVA
JERUZALEM
DEČJA VAS
VELIKA SLEVICA
Alpine mountains
Alpine hills
Alpine plains
Dinaric valleys and corrosion plains
Dinaric plateaus
Pannonian low hills
Pannonian plains
Mediterranean low hills
Mediterranean plateaus
0 10 20 30 40 50
km
© Geografski inštitut Antona Melika ZRC SAZU
Source of the typology: Perko, Hrvatin and Ciglič 2015
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88
generation. This is very important in determining the layout of terraced landscapes because it makes it
possible to register terraces that are overgrown or even covered by forest (Figure 2). The terraces that were
identified were then digitized, and overlapping data layers were used to study their morphometric prop-
erties (elevation, inclination, and aspect), ownership structure, and land use.
ADEM (with aresolution of 1×1m) derived from laser scanning data was used to analyze the pilot
sites. For the land use analysis, data from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food (Grafični podatki
RABA… 2015) were used. Information on the owners of individual parcels was obtained from the Land
cadastre (Zemljiški kataster 2014). Owners were sorted into ten different categories (private individuals,
legal entities, the state, the Slovenian Farmland and Forest Fund, agriculture communities, municipali-
ties, parishes, property in public domain, general-use public property, and unknown), and the influence
of ownership structure on land use was analyzed.
The fieldwork was based on observations and 26 structured interviews that were carried out at the pilot
sites in 2014 with 16 local residents that owned terraced land, 5 residents that were not owners, and 5 experts
in nature conservation, cultural heritage protection, history, archaeology, and agriculture, respectively. The
questionnaire for owners contained 22 questions about the influence of terraces on the settlement, their
use, their significance, and their preservation. Non-owners were asked about the same issues, except for
questions connected with cultivating and maintaining the terraces. Experts were asked 10 questions regard-
ing challenges connected with terraces, their possible protection and future development, and 1 specific
question connected to their field of expertise. The audio recordings and transcriptions of the interviews
are kept at the Archives of the ZRC SAZU Anton Melik Geographical Institute.
3 Results
The history, time, and reason connected with the creation of the terraces, and their position, appearance,
current status, and dominant processes differed greatly between landscapes. Some cultivated terraces were
shaped centuries ago, and the most recent were created in the 1960s. The characteristics of the terraced
landscape are connected with the shape of the terrain, as well as lithological, pedological, climatological,
and other natural and social characteristics of the landscape. In order to highlight their variety, the pilot
sites, which were selected based on the criteria in Chapter 2, are briefly presented. Their basic character-
istics were identified with the help of spatial analyses, in-depth interviews, and field visits (Figures 3, 4,
and 5; Table 1).
At the Rut site (Alpine mountains) the terraces were created following the settlement of Tyrolean farm-
ers from the vicinity of San Candido (Germ. Innichen) in the Puster Valley in the 13th century (Torkar 1994).
0 100 200 m Sources: Ortofoto GURS 2016; LIDAR 2016
© GIAM ZRC SAZU
Figure 2: Comparison of a digital or thophoto (left) and shaded relief based on laser scanning (right) for the Krkavče site. Shaded relief makes it possible
to also identify terraces under vegetation.
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89
Near the village, cleared stones were laid into dry walls that support the terraces. Originally they contained
small cultivated fields, known as flančniki, or seedling plots, and repniki, or plots for turnips and other
vegetables. The former fields are now predominantly meadows and pastures, and the small plots have fall-
en into disrepair and are overgrown. All of the non-terraced land in Rut is being intensively overgrown,
but the terraced land is not. Therefore in afew decades the terrace site in Rut will be the only land that
has not undergone afforestation.
In Smoleva (Alpine hills) the terraces were created during medieval colonization of hilly areas (Blaznik
1928; Ilešič 1938). The steep slopes and the bottoms of two ravines that open to the southwest were ter-
raced in order to facilitate cultivation of fields and reduce soil erosion. In the past, they contained fields
with all sorts of cultivars for subsistence farming, but they have now been replaced by meadows. Because
of the strong incline of the slope, the terraces are narrow and have high earthen embankments. Their main-
tenance is encumbered by the landslide-prone slopes.
In Rodine (Alpine plains) the terraces are in awarm zone at the foot of the hills. The terrace platforms
are several dozen meters long and at least five meters wide, and the embankments are low, gently sloping,
made of earth, and overgrown with grass. Aspecial feature among the embankments is two relatively well-
preserved dry stone walls. In the past, more than half of the terraces were used as cultivated fields, whereas
today meadows and pastures predominate.
In Jeruzalem (Pannonian low hills), the information gathered in the interviews indicates that vine-
yard terraces were created around 1965 on land that had been nationalized after the Second World War
(Pipan and Kokalj 2017). Due to the lack of manual labor, the terraces were built to accommodate the mechan-
ical cultivation available at the time. The terracing was so intense that it was carried out all the way to the
houses at the top of the ridge. In 2015, 89.8% of the terraced land was used for vineyards.
In Dečja vas (Dinaric plateaus) the terraces are characterized by reddish-brown soil. Terraced land is
surrounded by the clustered village on all sides. The terraces in Dečja vas are marked by apredominance
of cultivated fields, which cover more than half (51%) of all terraced land, which is noteworthy not only
among Slovenian terraced landscapes, but also among agricultural landscapes in general.
The terraces in Velika Slevica (Dinaric valleys and corrosion plains) represent the Lower Carniolan
type of terraces (Križaj Smrdel 2010). Old agricultural terraces extend along the full length of slopes, espe-
cially those facing the southeast. They have recently been subject to grass overgrowth. All of the embankments
are earthen and overgrown with grass, and in places one can notice the first signs of overgrowth with bush-
es. The greatest danger threatening their long-term existence is ownership fragmentation, which encumbers
economical and intensive cultivation.
The terraces in Krkavče (Mediterranean low hills) are believed to date back to Antiquity (Gaspari 1998).
In the past they were used to cultivate vineyards, fruit trees, and vegetables, but today olive groves predominate
because of their profitability and mechanical cultivation. Nearly one-third of the terraces are alreadyafforest-
ed. The trend of overgrowth is continuing, whereby the terraces where olives do not thrive are being abandoned
first. An important factor in their abandonment is the protected status of the Dragonja River region, which
is an obstacle to use. Dry stone walls have largely been replaced by earthen embankments.
In Merče (Mediterranean plateaus) there are no terraces at all on karstified soil (Jurkovšek et al. 1996;
Jurkovšek, Cvetko Tešović and Kolar-Jurkovšek 2013); they are found on dolomite and are laid out con-
centrically around the central village depression. They are bordered by multifunctional dry stone walls
(Panjek 2015). Once cultivated fields predominated on the terraces, and there were also many meadows
and pastures. Today these are in the majority, one-fourth of the terraces are afforested, and overgrowth con-
tinues to be intense.
The pilot areas also differ in terms of land use (Figures 4 and 5). Vineyards are almost exclusively found
in Jeruzalem, where they account for 89.8% of the terraces, and avery small portion can also be found in
Krkavče (6.8%). Olive groves are found only in Krkavče and account for 30.7% of terraced land. There are
few orchards; the largest share (9.5%) is found in Velika Slevica. In Dečja vas there is amix of cultivated
fields (51%) and meadows and pastures (40.7%), whereas meadows and pastures dominate in Merče (64.9%),
Rodine (83.5%), Rut (83.2%), Smoleva (59.4%), and Velika Slevica (85.4%). One of the basic characteris-
tics of land use on agricultural terraces is the abandonment of intensive use for cultivated fields or meadows,
Figure 3: Eight selected pilot sites that reflec t the diversit y of Slovenian terraced landscapes by various landscape types. pp. 88
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90
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Table 1: A comparison of terrace characteristics at eight pilot sites (Source: Grafični podatki RABA … 2015; Register prostorskih enot 2016; interviews; field inspec tions).
Pilot site Area (ha) Share of terraced Predominant use (> 20%) Predominant embankment type Special features Difficulties/challenges
land in settle ment (%)
Rut (1) 43.8 4.3 Meadow and pasture Dry wall Dry walls Clearing overgrown embankments
Smoleva (2) 20.2 11.0 Meadow and pasture, woods Earthen The terraces have their own Landslide-prone area; potential
microtoponyms, which are abandonment of mowing and brush
generally known by local removal on small farms
residents; the embankments
often have fruit trees on them
Rodine (3) 22.3 12.4 Meadow and pasture Earthen Two dry-wall embankments Land use change from cultivated
fields to meadows and pastures;
removal of dry walls
Jeruzalem (4) 24.4 40.9 Vineyard Earthen The terraces undulate along the Landslide-prone area
contours of small hills
Dečja vas (5) 61.0 20.0 Cultivated field, meadow, and pasture Earthen R eddish-brown loamy soil; mix of Owners’ negative attitude to terraces;
cultivated fields and meadows need to conserve arable land
Velika Slevica (6) 27.1 23.9 Meadow and pasture Earthen The terraces extend along Overgrowth of individual
the entire slopes following embankments; smallness and
the contours spatial dispersion of land ownership;
owners’ negative attitude to terraces
Krkavče (7) 231.3 35.9 Olive grove, woods Earthen Few dry walls; olive groves have Dry walls not maintained;
not only economic value but also overgrowth due to abandonment
distinctive aesthetic value of farming and unsettled ownership
Merče (8) 52.0 13.3 Meadow and pasture, woods Dry wall Dry-wall system; concentric Overgrowth; mowing only on
arrangement of terraces around terraces where farmers receive
a central depression where the subsidies
village houses stand
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92
which is best seen in afforestation and farmland that is being overgrown. Overgrowth is seen at all pilot
sites except Rodine; it is greatest in Krkavče (9.7%) and Merče (3.7%). In general, it is true for all pilot sites
that northern orientations are being overgrown more that southern ones, and that slopes with an incli-
nation greater than 27° (50%) are being overgrown more than those with less of an incline. The greatest
share of woods is in Smoleva (32%), and just under this in Krkavče (27.3%) and Merče (25.2%).
Based on information from the Land cadastre (Zemljiški kataster 2014), the largest number of parcel
owners in terraced areas is in Krkavče, followed by Merče, and the smallest number is in Smoleva. Comparing
the number of owners with the size of the terraced areas, the greatest fragmentation of property is in Rodine
and the least in Velika Slevica. With the exception of Jeruzalem, the highest share of owners in terraced
areas are private individuals, followed by the state (especially in Krkavče at 34.4%), and the remainder of
other categories is negligible. For atotal of 6% of land in the register the owner is unknown. In Jeruzalem
the largest ownership share is held by the Farmland and Forest Fund (58.4%). The smallest ownership shares
are held by agriculture communities, municipalities, legal entities, and parishes. In terms of ownership,
the majority of land that is being overgrown is privately owned (Figure 6). The largest share of such land
is found in Krkavče (9.7%), Merče (3.7%), and Smoleva (2.2%). Elsewhere overgrown land accounts for less
than 2%.
4 Discussion
One of the greatest problems for the continued existence of cultivated terraces is abandonment of their
use and subsequent overgrowth, which is especially the case in Krkavče, Smoleva, and Merče. Although
overgrowth of steep slopes is readily apparent at most of the pilot sites, the overgrowth of land by aspect
varies much more. One reason for this is also the fact that certain pilot sites have very little or almost no
land with particular aspects (Figure 4). The same is true regarding the influence of elevation and relative
elevation differences within the pilot site: overgrowth of higher-elevation areas is characteristic of pilot
sites with greater elevation and greater relative elevation differences (e.g., Smoleva and Rut), whereas else-
where this tendency is not observable. It was also surprising that land that is being overgrown, especially
in Smoleva, Merče, and to some extent in Krkavče, is largely privately owned and not state-owned, as was
first expected. It is likely that more meaningful reasons for the overgrowth of cultivated terraces should
0%
Land use structure
in cultivated terraces
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Built area 0,5 2,9 4,1 0,6 1,5 0,3 3,3 1,7
Overgrown 1,8 2,2 00,2 0,8 0,1 9,7 3,7
Non cultivated farmland 00
0,7 00,4 0,1 3,2 0,3
Woods 8,1 32 0,7 0,6 4,9 2,1 27,3 25,2
Olive grove 000000
30,7 0
Vineyard 000
89,8 00
6,8 0,8
Orchard 52,7 4,1 00,7 9,5 1,3 1,8
Meadow and pasture 83,2 59,4 83,5 8,7 40,7 85,4 9,5 64,9
Cultivated field 1,4 0,8 6,9 0,1 51 2,5 8,2 1,6
Rut Smoleva Rodine Jeruzalem De ja vasčVelika Slevica Krkav ečMer eč
Figure 4: A comparison of terraced land use at pilot sites in % (Grafični podatki RABA … 2015).
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Figure 5: Overgrowth of cultivated terraces at individual pilot areas by aspect in % (Grafični podatki RABA… 2015; LIDAR 2015).
Rut Smoleva Rodine Jeruzalem Dečja vas Velika Slevica Krkavče Merče
S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT
S, SE, SW 82,7 8,9 2,1 89,0 60,9 18,0 2,9 79,1 82,9 0,4 0,0 99,6 61,1 0,7 0,3 99,0 41,1 3,4 1,0 95,6 54,6 1,3 0,2 98,5 61,0 17,2 9,9 72,9 30,0 27,8 4,5 67,7
E 4,6 5,9 0,3 93,8 8,6 98,5 0,0 1,5 1,0 6,2 0,0 93,8 22,9 0,5 0,1 99,4 12,9 4,0 1,1 94,9 27,5 2,4 0,0 97,6 6,8 22,4 8,5 69,1 20,7 27,9 4,7 67,4
W 12,1 3,2 0,5 96,3 14,8 7,9 2,5 89,6 12,3 0,6 0,0 99,4 5,1 0,7 0,1 99,2 8,7 4,2 0,0 95,8 0,7 16,9 0,0 83,1 12,3 46,1 10,1 43,8 8,8 15,3 2,3 82,4
N, NE, NW 0,6 14,6 1,1 84,3 15,7 73,1 0,6 26,3 3,8 4,0 0,0 96,0 10,9 0,5 0,0 99,5 37,3 7,0 0,8 92,2 17,2 3,5 0,0 96,5 19,9 48,1 9,2 42,7 40,5 24,1 2,8 73,1
S – share (in %) of aspect categories; W – woods (in %); OVG – overgrown farmland (in %); OT – other (in %)
Figure 6: Share of terraced land at pilot sites by ownership type, with an emphasis on wooded land and farmland being overgrown (Zemljiški kataster 2014).
Pilot site Rut Smoleva Rodine Jeruzalem Dečja vas Velika Slevica Krkavče Merče
Number of owners 54 13 37 16 39 29 213 84
S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT S W OVG OT
Private individual 91,4 6,1 3,5 90,4 98,2 30,9 3,6 65,5 75,6 0,8 0,1 99,1 38,9 0,4 1,6 98,0 89,8 5,0 1,1 93,9 88,0 1,1 1,2 97,7 57,2 18,4 18,0 63,6 95,1 16,5 12,9 70,6
Legal entity 0,0 100,0 0,8 3,2 13,2 83,6
Republic of Slovenia 1,2 69,2 2,9 27,9 0,2 100,0 0,0 100,0 34,4 26,8 22,5 50,7 0,1 7,7 36,6 55,7
The Slovenian Farmland 0,1 100,0 58,4 0,1 0,0 0,1 2,7 1,8 2,4 95,8 1,5 51,6 23,3 25,1
and Forest Fund
Agriculture community 0,0 100,0
Municipality – – – – 0,6 5,6 4,6 89,8 0,0 – – 100,0 – – – – – – – – – – – – 0,1 21,5 32,4 46,1 – – – –
Parish 4,7 0,0 4,5 95,5 – – – – 0,0 – – 100,0 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 0,3 32,0 22,3 45,7
Property in public 1,0 3,5 9,9 86,6 0,9 12,0 29,6 58,4 0,3 100,0 1,2 11,9 0,4 87,7 1,2 15,6 23,9 60,5
domain
General-use public 2,0 1,1 4,8 94,1 2,3 21,0 17,6 61,4
property
Unknown 1,7 0,0 0,1 99,9 0,2 100,0 23,9 – 100,0 2,7 – 100,0 6,3 0,1 0,5 99,4 10,0 0,1 0,2 99,7 4,8 0,2 12,2 87,6 2,2 – 4,1 95,9
0,0 category exists, but its value is less than 0.05 %; – category does not exist; S – share (in %) of owners; W – woods (in %); OVG – overgrown farmland (in %); OT – other (in %)
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M. Šmid Hribar, M. Geršič, P. Pipan, P. Repolusk, J. Tiran, M. Topole, R. Ciglič, Cultivated terraces in Slovenian landscapes
be sought in the socioeconomic development of the pilot areas: in unfavorable demographic development
and deagrarization of alarge part of the rural population and the related abandonment of intensive cul-
tivation, in the growing market orientation of farming, and, especially in eastern Slovenia, in the planned
construction of new vineyard terraces for easier and better cultivation. Based on interviews and fieldwork,
it has been established that the abandonment of terraced land results from the following:
• Aging of the population and younger generations moving away (Krkavče, Merče, and Rut);
• Redirection of residents from farming to other activities (Krkavče, Merče, Rodine, Smoleva, and Velika
Slevica);
• Fragmented and small holdings, which often impede or completely prevent mechanical cultivation
(Smoleva and Velika Slevica); and
• Conflicts arising from joint ownership and incapacity for uniform management (Merče).
In some cases, these reasons for abandoning terraces are comparable to those in other terraced areas
in Europe. In the Alps these especially include natural limiting factors (Höchtl, Lehringer and Konold 2005),
in southern Europe poor accessibility to these areas and socioeconomic changes (Stanchi et al. 2012), in
Slovakia alack of successors and young people moving away (Špulerová et al. 2017), and in Croatia decline
of traditional agricultural production and diversification in modern agriculture techniques, which rarely
include terracing (Andlar, Šrajer and Trojanović 2017). Abandonment due to the expansion of construc-
tion areas if terraces are located near large settlements was not observed in Slovenia, as Špulerová et al. (2017)
reported for Slovakia. In individual areas, the continued existence of terraces is also threatened by other
factors. One of these is the transformation of terraces into vertical vineyards – for example, in the broad-
er area of the Jeruzalem Hills – which allows agreater number of grape vines per area unit (Urbanc 2002;
Pipan and Kokalj 2017). Terraces are also indirectly threatened by changes in land use from cultivated fields
to meadows and pastures because grazing livestock gradually level terraced land, as has started to occur
in Velika Slevica. The preservation of terraces is also impeded by the lack of special subsidies for maintain-
ingthem. Subsidies are available only for cultivating farmland and cultivating areas with »limited agricultural
potential«, and so narrow terraces on large slopes are deteriorating, and in places the embankments are
becoming overgrown (e.g., in Velika Slevica) because the steep incline necessitates mowing by hand. In
contrast to the past, terraces represent more of an obstacle than an advantage to modern agriculture.
In addition to the Jeruzalem terraces, only the terraces in Krkavče are also officially recognized as cul-
tural heritage (Register nepremične kulturne… 2015; Kladnik, Šmid Hribar and Geršič 2017). Among the
local residents, terraces as cultural heritage or as part of tradition that must be respected, are also recog-
nized in Merče, and by their owners also in Smoleva and to some extent in Velika Slevica.
One of the more important qualities of terraces is their aesthetic value, which is also cited by UNESCO
as one of the criteria for defining world heritage (Internet 1). Despite the subjective judgment, perhaps
precisely aesthetic attractiveness is akey quality that can aid terrace preservation. Aesthetic value is fur-
ther added to terraces by an evenly structured, harmonious, orderly, and cultivated surface, along with
individual elements such as trees and dry stone walls. As external observers, we can highlight the mix of
terraced cultivated fields and meadows in Dečja vas, which, together with the reddish-brown color of the
soil, create aunique landscape. More or less all of the local residents interviewed were aware of the aes-
thetic values of terraces–except, interestingly, for those in Dečja vas, where the farmers viewed terraces as
merely time-consuming and demanding extra work. It is interesting that the locals ranked the Jeruzalem
terraces highest in terms of aesthetic value; these are the youngest terraces and were created mechanically.
They emphasized that terraces are more attractive than vertical plantations, and because of their color-
fulness they are especially attractive in the autumn. This confirms Kant’s point of view that beauty is the
capacity to experience beauty, which is created in the subjective experience of the observer, which is high-
lighted by Šmid Hribar (2011) with regard to the aesthetic evaluation of trees and by Smrekar, Polajnar
Horvat, and Erhartič (2016) with regard to landscape forms.
In the case of the Jeruzalem terraces it turned out, similar to what Erhartič (2009) had already ascer-
tained, that it is precisely the aesthetic value of the terraces that influenced the development of tourism
as an important branch of the economy. This is well appreciated by both wine producers, who designat-
ed the wine from the area with the label Terase (eng. terraces), as well as advertising campaigns, which use
the Jeruzalem vineyard terraces to promote landscape beauty. Among the general Slovenian public, it is the
Jeruzalem terraces that are best known among all of the pilot sites because of their picturesque character,
which should also be taken into account in defining aesthetic criteria for assessing terraced landscapes.
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In addition to all of this, due to difficult natural conditions in many steep landscapes, terraces must
also be protected for the following reasons:
• Protecting soil fertility;
• Protection against erosion;
• Maintaining soil moisture; and
• Safeguarding traditional knowledge about terrace construction, especially regarding how and where it
is possible to obtain flat areas on slopes in order to make farming possible (e.g., for vineyards, olive groves,
cultivated fields, meadows, and pastures).
Based on the observations and interviews, it has been determined that only those terraces will be pre-
served that allow mechanical cultivation and that are economically profitable, similar to those in Alpine
valleys in Italy (Scaramelini and Varoto 2008), Switzerland (Lavaux 2007), and France (Jeddou et al. 2008).
In order to preserve other interesting terraces (but only to asmaller extent), it will be necessary to apply
appropriate protection, new practices, and financial resources. This could, for example, prevent overgrowth
near settlements in Istria by encouraging residents to engage in hobby production of fruit and vegetables.
This should be put in place through systematic measures and setting up appropriate shared places for tool
storage. This would also encourage socialization and the exchange of knowledge and experience.
5 Conclusion
Construction and maintenance of cultivated terraces is ademanding task. In the past, terraces were con-
nected with subsistence farming and represented an advantage, but with modern machinery they mostly
hinder owners and generate aloss for them. This leads to two opposing trends. On the one hand, terraces
are being abandoned and overgrown on alarge scale, but where production on them has proven to be eco-
nomically attractive modern farm equipment is being used to convert them into land adapted for mechanical
cultivation. This has intensified their use; for example, in Jeruzalem and Krkavče. Both of these contribute
to fundamental changes to traditional terraced landscapes. It is therefore concluded that primarily prof-
it will be an important driver for the future maintenance of terraces.
Because of the steep inclines in Jeruzalem, despite the greater production costs in comparison with
vertical vineyards, the terraces have maintained their original viticultural function. The reason for this also
lies in their majority ownership by the Farmland and Forest Fund, which rents the land to alarge wine-
producing company. These terraces, in addition to their primary production function, also promote the
development of tourism and other activities. The high profile of the terraces there and their aesthetic impor-
tance for tourism will also be important driving forces for their maintenance in the future. In Krkavče, which
ranks second among the pilot sites studied in terms of the share of cultivated terraces, the main driver of
their preservation in recent times has been the economically profitable production of olive oil. At other pilot
sites studied, terraces are preserved solely where the only (flat) farmland can be found on terraces.
In addition to economic value, many terraces also have heritage value, with an emphasis on their aes-
thetic importance and traditional knowledge and practices used for making aliving in aparticular landscape.
In this respect as well, the Jeruzalem terraces stand out: even though they are the youngest, having been
created around 1965 in socialist Yugoslavia, their aesthetic value makes them the best known among the
general public.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The following local residents are gratefully acknowledged for providing valu-
able information in interviews: Milan Gliha and Janez Strajnar (Dečja vas), Vincenc Brenholc, Mitja Herga,
Milan Pevec, Slavko Prapotnik, and Janko Vočanec (Jeruzalem), Jernej Brec and Robert Lisjak (Krkavče),
Dean Kariž and Darij Volk (Merče), Janez Čop and Marijan Meterc (Rodine), Ivan Kemperle and Ančka
Koder (Rut), Franc Jelenc, Marko Jelenc, Olga Torkar, and Rafael Torkar (Smoleva), and Peter Hočevar
and Alojz Stritar (Velika Slevica), as well as the following experts: Jana Horvat, Irena Vrhovnik, Tina Trampuš,
Etbin Tavčar, and Žiga Zwitter.
Acta geographica Slovenica, 57-2, 2017
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M. Šmid Hribar, M. Geršič, P. Pipan, P. Repolusk, J. Tiran, M. Topole, R. Ciglič, Cultivated terraces in Slovenian landscapes
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