Advertisement

Environmental Management

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 250–266 | Cite as

Socioeconomic Dimensions of Changes in the Agricultural Landscape of the Mediterranean Basin: A Case Study of the Abandonment of Cultivation Terraces on Nisyros Island, Greece

  • Theodora Petanidou
  • Thanasis Kizos
  • Nikolaos Soulakellis
Article

Abstract

Agricultural landscapes illustrate the impact of human actions on physical settings, and differential human pressures cause these landscapes to change with time. Our study explored changes in the terraced landscapes of Nisyros Island, Greece, focusing on the socioeconomic aspects during two time periods using field data, cadastral research, local documents, and published literature, as well as surveys of the islanders. Population increases during the late 19th to early 20th centuries marked a significant escalation of terrace and dry stone wall construction, which facilitated cultivation on 58.4% of the island. By the mid-20th century, the economic collapse of agricultural activities and consequent emigration caused the abandonment of cultivated land and traditional management practices, dramatically reducing farm and field numbers. Terrace abandonment continued in recent decades, with increased livestock grazing becoming the main land management tool; as a result, both farm and pasture sizes increased. Neglect and changing land use has led to deterioration and destruction of many terraces on the island. We discuss the socioeconomic and political backgrounds responsible for the land-use change before World War II (annexation of Nisyros Island by the Ottoman Empire, Italy, and Greece; overseas migration opportunities; and world transportation changes) and after the war (social changes in peasant societies; worldwide changes in agricultural production practices). The adverse landscape changes documented for Nisyros Island appear to be inevitable for modern Mediterranean rural societies, including those on other islands in this region. The island’s unique terraced landscapes may qualify Nisyros to become an archive or repository of old agricultural management techniques to be used by future generations and a living resource for sustainable management.

Keywords

Agricultural landscape Landscape elements Land-use change Population migration Animal husbandry GIS mapping Aegean islands 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The study was supported by the Ministry of the Aegean (INTERREG II Program, Project entitled “Terraces in the islands of the Aegean: Role in the past and importance for their future in relation to economy, ecology and culture”, 1999–2001), and by the Municipality of Nisyros. We thank all collaborators and students who participated in the fieldwork and laboratory work (K. Karystinakis, P. Spastra, H. Dahm, D. Arabatzoglou, P. Tserpelis, V. Gkelou, and T. Kontos), for their invaluable contribution to the terrace mapping; G. Nikolakakis and T. Iosifidis for their advice on issues related to cultural and social documentation; and all local residents who responded to our questionnaires and participated in our interviews, and particularly D. Papadelias, A. Kaloudis, G. Sakellaridis, and A. Katsimatidi. We gratefully acknowledge Y. Mahairidis, P. Katsimatidis, and K. Hartofyllis for offering logistical support and providing background documents. The article benefited from a critical reading by E. Lamborn, M. Koulouri, B. Morehouse, G. Hart, and three anonymous reviewers.

References

  1. Agapitidis SI (1969) O plithysmos tis Dodekanisou. Nisyriaka 3:5–22 (in Greek)Google Scholar
  2. Anonymous. 1956. Statistika stoiheia Nisyrou. Nisyriaka Hronika 2:49–50 (in Greek)Google Scholar
  3. Antrop M (2005) Why landscapes of the past are important for the future. Landscape and Urban Planning 70:21–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Argyris P (2001) Historical–geographical coordinates of Dodecanese: from the sea to the countryside. In: Petanidou T, Dahm H, Soulakellis N (eds) The role of terraces for the future of the islands in relation to economy, ecology and civilization – Unpublished Final Technical Report to the Ministry of the Aegean. University of the Aegean, Mytilene (in Greek). pp. 39–54Google Scholar
  5. Asdrahas S, Karapidaki NE, Katsiardi-Hering O, Liata E, Matthaiou A, Sivignon M, Stoianovich T (2003) Elliniki Oikonomiki Istoria, 15–19os aionas. Cultural Foundation of Peiraios Bank, Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  6. Barker G, Hodges R, Clark G (1995) A Mediterranean Valley: Landscape Archaeology and Annales history in the Biferno Valley. Leicester University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Bournova E, Progoulakis G (1999) O Agrotikos Kosmos 1830–1940. In: Kremmydas V (ed), Eisagogi sti Neoelliniki Oikonomiki Istoria (18–20os aionas). Typothito Press, Athens. (in Greek). pp. 45–104Google Scholar
  8. Brunet M (1990) Terrasses de culture antiques: l’exemple de Délos, Cyclades. Méditerranée 71:5–11Google Scholar
  9. Cammeraat E, van Beek R, Kooijman A (2005) Vegetation succession and its consequences for slope stability in SE Spain. Plant and Soil 278:135–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chartofyllis KM (2000) Eisagogi. Nisyriaka 14:5–7 (in Greek)Google Scholar
  11. CEC (Commission of the European Communities) (2000) From land cover to landscape diversity in the European Union. Report from EC DG VI, EUROSTAT, Joint Research Center, EEAGoogle Scholar
  12. Doukellis P (1998) Versants pierreux et champs de culture à Ceos. In: Mendoni LG, Mazarakis-Ainian AJ (eds), Kythnos: History and Archaeology – Proceedings of an International Symposium. Meletimata 27, Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity. National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens. pp 309–330Google Scholar
  13. Duiker SW, Flanagan DC, Lal R (2001) Erodibility and infiltration characteristics of five major soils of southwest Spain. Catena 45:103–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ekonomakis R, de Vries C (2001) Nisyros: History and Architecture. Melissa, AthensGoogle Scholar
  15. ESYE. (1965) Katanomi ektaseos tis Ellados kata vasikes katigories hriseos (Proapografika stoiheia apografis georgias – ktinotrofias tou etous 1961). Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  16. ESYE. (1976) Apotelesmata apografis georgias – ktinotrofias tou etous 1971. Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  17. ESYE. (1991) Stoiheia apografis plithysmou 1991, available at http://www.statistics.gr/StatMenu.asp (in Greek)
  18. ESYE. (1995) Katanomi ektaseos tis Ellados kata vasikes katigories hriseos (Proapografika stoiheia apografis georgias – ktinotrofias tou etous 1991). Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  19. ESYE. (1998) Apotelesmata apografis georgias – ktinotrofias tis 7 Martiou 1991. Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  20. ESYE. (2001) Stoiheia apografis plithysmou 2001, available at http://www.statistics.gr/StatMenu.asp (in Greek)
  21. ESYE (2003) Apotelesmata apografis georgias – ktinotrofias 2000–2001. Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  22. Fittschen K (1998) Archaeologia kai prostasia tou fysikou topiou – To paradeigma tis Arhaias Karthaias (in Greek). In: Mendoni LG, Mazarakis AJ-Ainian (eds), Kea – Kythnos: History and Archaeology – Proceedings of an International Symposium, Kea – Kythnos, 22–25 June 1994. Meletimata 27, Research Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity. National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens. pp. 539–545Google Scholar
  23. Forman RTT, Godron M (1986) Landscape Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. French CAI, Whitelaw TM (1999) Soil erosion, agricultural terracing and site formation processes at Markiani, Amorgos, Greece: The micromorphological perspective. Geoarchaeology 14:151–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gasparis H (1997) I gi kai oi agrotes sti mesaioniki Kriti: 13–14os aionas. National Research Foundation, Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  26. Gebremedhin B, Swinton SM, Tilahun Y (1999) Effects of stone terraces on crop yields and farm profitability: Results of on-farm research in Tigray, northern Ethiopia. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 54:568–573Google Scholar
  27. Gerozisis TA, (ed). (1998) Dodekanisa: Synthikes – Nomoi – Statistikes – Hartes 1947–1997. Vouli ton Ellinon, Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  28. Grenon M, Batisse M (1989) Futures for the Mediterranean Basin: The Blue Plan. UNEP, ParisGoogle Scholar
  29. Grove AT, Rackham O (2002) The nature of Mediterranean Europe: an ecological history. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  30. Haber W (1990) Using Landscape Ecology in Planning and Management. In: Zonneveld IS, Forman RTT (eds), Changing Landscapes: An Ecological Perspective. Springer, New York. pp. 217–232Google Scholar
  31. Hammad AA, Borresen T (2006) Socioeconomic factors affecting farmers’ perceptions of land degradation and stonewall terraces in central Palestine. Environmental Management 37:380–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Horden P, Purcell N (2000) The corrupting sea: A study of Mediterranean history. Blackwell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Inbar M, Llerena CA (2000) Erosion processes in high mountain agricultural terraces in Peru. Mountain Research and Development 20:72–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jameson MH, Runnels CN, van Andel TH (1994) A Greek countryside: The southern Argolid from Prehistory to the present day. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  35. Jongman RHG (ed) (1997) Ecological and landscape consequences of land use change in Europe – Proceedings of the first ECNC seminar on land use change and its ecological consequences. European Centre for Nature Conservation, TilburgGoogle Scholar
  36. Kayhko N, Skanes H (2006) Change trajectories and key biotopes – Assessing landscape dynamics and sustainability. Landscape and Urban Planning 75:300–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kizos T 2005. Politiki anaptyxis tis ypaithrou kai agrotiko topio sta nisia tou Aigaiou. In: Tsaltas G (ed), Aeiforia kai perivallon: o nisiotikos horos ston 21o aiona. Sideris, Athens (in Greek). pp. 347–362Google Scholar
  38. Kizos T, Koulouri M (2005) Economy, demographic changes and morphological transformation of the agricultural landscape of Lesvos, Greece. Human Ecology Review 12:183–192Google Scholar
  39. Kizos T, Spilanis I (2004) The transformation of landscape: modeling policy and social impacts on the agricultural landscape of Lesvos. Natural Resource Modeling 17:321–358Google Scholar
  40. Kostis K (1987) Agrotiki oikonomia kai Agrotiki Trapeza. Opseis tis ellinikis oikonomias sto mesopolemo. National Bank Foundation, Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  41. Koulouri M, Giourga C (2007) Land abandonment and slope gradient as key factors of soil erosion in Mediterranean terraced lands. Catena 69:274–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. KYA 568. 2004. Greek Common Ministerial Decision 568/20/1/04 (Ministry of Economics and Finance, Ministry of Public Services and Ministry of Agriculture) for “Good Agricultural Practices,” available at http://www.minagric.gr/greek/EPAA/INDEX%201/INDEX%201.HTM accessed 18/04/2007
  43. Lasanta T, Gonzalez-Hidalgo J, Vicente-Serrano S, Sferi E (2006) Using landscape ecology to evaluate an alternative management scenario in abandoned Mediterranean mountain areas. Landscape and Urban Planning 78:101–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lasanta T, Vicente-Serrano S, Cuadrat JM (2005) Mountain Mediterranean landscape evolution caused by the abandonment of traditional primary activities: A study of the Spanish Central Pyrenees. Applied Geography 25:47–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Liata ED (1987) I Serifos kata tin Tourkokratia (17–19os aionas): symvoli sti meleti ton koinonikon kai oikonomikon domon kai tou koinotikou systimatos. Idryma Erevnas kai Paideias, Foundation of the Commercial Bank of Greece, Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  46. Lock P (1995) The Franks in the Aegean: 1204–1500. Longman, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. Logothetis M (1963) Tourismos kai oikonomia tis nisou Nisyrou. Nisyriaka 1:51–117 (in Greek)Google Scholar
  48. Logothetis M (1987) Ta ktimatologia tis Nisyrou kata ta hronia tis douleias (1785–1945). Nisyriaka 10:197–386 (in Greek)Google Scholar
  49. Lohmann H (1992) Agriculture and country life in classical Attica. in B. Wells (ed), Agriculture in Ancient Greece – Proceedings of the seventh International Symposium at the Swedish Institute at Athens, 16–17 May, 1990. Paul Åstrőms Főrlag, Stockholm. pp. 29–60Google Scholar
  50. Lowry HW (2002) Fifteenth century Ottoman realities: Christian peasant life on the Aegean island of Limnos. Eren Press, IstanbulGoogle Scholar
  51. Mander U, Palang H, Ihse M (2005) Development of European landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning 67:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Margaris NS (1992) Primary sector and environment in the Aegean islands, Greece. Environmental Management 16:569–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Molinillo M, Lasanta T, Garcia-Ruiz JM (1997) Managing mountainous degraded landscapes after farmland abandonment in the Central Spanish Pyrenees. Environmental Management 21:587–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Muir R (2003) On change in the landscape. Landscape Research 28:383–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Netting RM (1993) Smallholders, householders: farm families and the ecology of intensive, sustainable agriculture. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  56. Nicod J (1990) Murettes et terrasses de culture dans les régions karstiques méditerranéennes. Méditerranée 71:34–54Google Scholar
  57. Palang H, Antrop M, Alumae H (2005) Rural landscapes: past processes and future strategies. Landscape and Urban Planning 70:3–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Papahristodoulou HI (1969) Toponymiko Nisyrou. Nisyriaka 3:230–268 (in Greek)Google Scholar
  59. Petanidou T (2005) Vastadia kai tavles – Sculpturing the landscape of Nisyros. Nisyriaka 15:212–255 (in Greek)Google Scholar
  60. Petanidou T, Dahm Ν, Soulakellis N (2001) O rolos ton anavathmidon sto parelthon kai i simasia tous gia to mellon ton nision se shesi me tin oikonomia, tin oikologia kai ton politismo. Final Report to the Ministry of the Aegean, Vols. 1–2, University of the Aegean, Mytilene (in Greek)Google Scholar
  61. Petanidou T, Soulakellis N, Karystinakis K, Spastra P (2004) The Mediterranean terraced landscapes in change: estimating the efforts to build it up and the reasons to downturn it. In: Arianoutsou M, and V. Papanastasis. (eds), Proceedings 10th MEDECOS Conference CD, Rhodes, Millpress, RotterdamGoogle Scholar
  62. Pinto-Correia T, Vos W (2004) Multifunctionality in Mediterranean landscapes – past and future. In: Jongman R (ed), The new dimensions of the European landscape. Wageningen UR Frontis Series nr. 4, Springer, Berlin. pp. 155–184Google Scholar
  63. Plieninger T (2006) Habitat loss, fragmentation and alteration – quantifying the impact of land use changes on a Spanish dehesa landscape by use of aerial photography and GIS. Landscape Ecology 21:91–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pratt J, Funell D (1997) The modernization of Mediterranean agriculture. In: King R, Proudfoot L, Smith B (eds), The Mediterranean: environment and society. Arnold, London. pp. 194–207Google Scholar
  65. Price C, Nixon L (2005) Ancient Greek agricultural terraces: Evidence from texts and archaeological survey. American Journal of Archaeology 109:665–694Google Scholar
  66. Psihogios DK (1995) Proikes, foroi, stafida kai psomi: oikonomia kai oikogeneia stin agrotiki Ellada tou 19ou aiona. EKKE, Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  67. Rackham O, Moody JA (1992) Terraces. In: Wells B (ed), Agriculture in Ancient Greece – Proceedings of the seventh International Symposium at the Swedish Institute at Athens, 16–17 May, 1990. Paul Åstrőms Főrlag, Stockholm. pp. 123–130Google Scholar
  68. Rackham O, Moody JA (1996) The making of the Cretan landscape. Manchester University Press, ManchesterGoogle Scholar
  69. Robson C (2002) Real world research. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  70. Savorianakis P (2000) Nisiotikes koinonies sto Aigaio prin kai meta tis othomanikes metarythmiseis: I periptosi ton Ellinon tis Rodou kai tis Ko (18–19os aionas). Athens, Trohalia – Dimos Rodou, Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  71. Steiner FR (1991) The Living Landscape: An Ecological Approach to Landscape Planning. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  72. Stobbelaar DJ, van Mansvelt JD (2000) The process of landscape evaluation: introduction to the 2nd special AGEE issue of the concerted action: “The landscape and nature production capacity of organic/sustainable types of agriculture”. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 77:1–15Google Scholar
  73. Tarsouli A (1950) Dodekanisa, Volume 3. Alpha I.M. Skazikis Publisher, Athens (in Greek)Google Scholar
  74. Turner MG, Gardner RH, O’Neill RV (2003) Landscape Ecology in theory and practice: pattern and process. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  75. Vagen TG Tilahun Y, Esser KB (1999) Effects of stone terracing on available phosphorus and yields on highly eroded slopes in Tigray, Ethiopia. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 15:61–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Veeck G, Zhou L, Ling G (1995) Terrace construction and productivity on Loessal soils in Zhongyang County, Shanzi Province. Proceedings of the Association of American Geographers 85:450–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wascher DM (1999) Agri-environmental indicators for sustainable agriculture in Europe. European Centre for Nature Conservation, TilburgGoogle Scholar
  78. Wascher DM, (ed). (2000a) The face of Europe: policy perspectives for European landscapes. Technical Report series, European Centre for Nature Conservation, TilburgGoogle Scholar
  79. Wascher DM, (ed). (2000b) Landscapes and sustainability – Proceedings of the European workshop on landscape assessment as a policy tool. European Centre for Nature Conservation, The Countryside Agency, TilburgGoogle Scholar
  80. Wascher DM (2006) European Landscape Character Areas – Typologies, Cartography and indicators for the assessment of sustainable landscapes. Final Project Report of the European Landscape Character Assessment Initiative. Available at http://www.elcai.org/brochure.html accessed 18/04/2007
  81. Whitelaw TM (1994) An ethnoarchaeological study of rural land-use in north-west Keos: insights and implications for the study of past Aegean landscapes. In: Doukellis PN and Mendoni LG (eds), Structures rurales et sociétés antiques – Actes du Colloque de Corfu (14–16 Mai 1992). Annales Littéraires de l’Université de Besancon, Paris. pp. 163–186Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodora Petanidou
    • 1
  • Thanasis Kizos
    • 1
  • Nikolaos Soulakellis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of the AegeanMytileneGreece

Personalised recommendations