Being a Mediterranean country, Greece faces the problem of increased desertification, with its islands being listed as areas of high desertification risk. The impacts of climate change, in particular the reduction of rainfall or/and its duration, temperature increase, as well as the increase of the frequency of severe weather phenomena, are not only just being noticed, but they are also scientifically documented, posing a major threat to island ecosystems. Given the current predictions of climatic models, summer aridity is expected to rise, thereby leading to prolonged droughts, increased frequency of forest fires, and pressure on water reserves of areas that are already in the verge of being vulnerable. At the same time, it is expected that the frequency as well as the intensity of severe rainfalls and sudden floods will increase.
The islands of the Aegean, areas with intense relief and low vegetation cover, are faced with major confrontations. The impacts of these specific changes are expected to influence significantly biodiversity, composition and functionality of ecosystems, soil structure, water reserves, island landscape and, as a result, the production and economic activities, such as agriculture and tourism.
The predictions for the island ecosystems are particularly ominous, since climate change is expected to sharpen further the environmental problems already derived from the abandonment of traditional land uses (i.e. cultivation of terraces). These problems include soil erosion and loss of fertile land, as well as increased flammability of vegetation and subsequently high fire risk. The natural island environment will also be subjected to negative impacts, e.g. increase in ecosystem susceptibility and reduction of abundance of species and biodiversity.
Finally, and given the current situation, it is certain that the agricultural activity and production that could survive from land abandonment, will be further influenced negatively, since the quantity and quality of agricultural produce depends on soil and climate conditions. After all, it has already been documented that climate change in Greece is expected to affect mostly the agricultural sector (Karamanos & Voloudakis 2011).
Karamanos, A., Voloudakis, D. (2011). Impacts of climate change on agriculture. Climate Change Study Committee, Bank of Greece.
The project is implemented with the financial support of the European Commission.