Cultivation terraces, also known as “pezoules”, constitute the most significant large-scale human intervention on the Aegean Islands since the emergence of human establishment and agriculture. Such infrastructure investment, invaluable during the course of centuries and millennia, has proven to be the most effective land management tool, because made production process viable and sustainable over time and contributed to the ability of natural ecosystems to adapt to climatic and environmental vicissitudes (Petanidou, 2011, 2015).
Until mid 1960s, cultivation terraces constituted the main land network supporting primary production on the islands (cultivation, livestock raising, and beekeeping) giving at the same time opportunities of continuous growth to important socio-cultural characteristics both material (carved and structured landscape) and intangible (cultivated plant varieties, cultivation methods, ethics and customs, idiosyncratic glossary). Additionally, they have supported the island ecosystem services by improving rainwater percolation, reducing soil erosion and inducing local biodiversity (domesticated plants and associated animal species).
The recent collapse of the abovementioned production model, during the last few decades, led to the abandonment of cultivation terraces and headed to the end of self-sufficiency on the islands as to primary goods (Petanidou 2005, Petanidou et al. 2008). As a consequence, ecosystem services deterred, and island ecosystems became more vulnerable and susceptible to climate change impacts. Due to the extreme human pressure nowadays, due to e.g. urbanization and fires, the prediction of the imminent climate change impacts is ominous.
The LIFE TERRACESCAPE project, making use of the experience gained through the project LIFE ANDROSSPA on terraces re-cultivation, will move on to a large-scale demonstration project of restoration – re-claiming – re-cultivation of abandoned terraces on the island of Andros, employing proper tools, both for cultivating and marketing to make the entire effort economically viable.
Petanidou T. (2005). Sculpturing the landscape of Nisyros with terraces for agriculture [In Greek]. Nisyriaka 15: 212-255.
Petanidou T. (2011). Terraces – an inseparable element of the island landscape. In: Contemporanean lanscapes of Greece - A geographical approach from above (C. Hadjimihalis, Ed.). Melissa Publications, Athens. [In Greek].
Petanidou T. (2015). Terraces of the Aegean – the example of Dodecanese. Parisianou Scientific Publications, Athens, pp. 280. [in Greek].
Petanidou T, Kizos T., Soulakellis N. (2008). Socioeconomic dimensions of the agricultural landscape change in the Mediterranean: the case of the abandonment of cultivation terraces on Nisyros Island, Greece. Environmental Management 41: 250–266. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267‐007‐9054‐6.
The project is implemented with the financial support of the European Commission.