Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Journal of Landscape Ecology

The Journal of Czech National Chapter of the Association for Landscape Ecology (CZ-IALE)

3 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.179
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.280

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Landscape Change in Mediterranean Farmlands: Impacts of Land Abandonment on Cultivation Terraces in Portofino (Italy) and Lesvos (Greece)

Theo Van Der Sluis / Thanasis Kizos / Bas Pedroli
Published Online: 2014-10-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/jlecol-2014-0008


The Mediterranean landscape has been rapidly changing over the past decades. Many regions saw a population decline, which resulted in changing land use, abandonment of marginal lands and colonisation by shrubs and tree species. Typical features like farming terraces, olive yards, and upland grasslands have been decreasing over the past 50 years. This results in a declining biodiversity and loss of traditional Mediterranean landscapes. In this paper we assess the landscape changes that took place in two areas, in Portofino, on the Italian Riviera, and Lesvos, a Greek island near the Turkish coast. We compared land use maps and aerial photographs over the past decades to quantify the land use changes in these two areas. Additional information was acquired from farmers’ interviews and literature. We found that changes are related to societal changes in the appraisal of agricultural land uses, and to the urban expansion, tourism and recreation. These diffuse processes are a result of policy measures and autonomous societal transformations. This is confirmed by the results of two interview surveys: between 1999 and 2012 agricultural land use in Portofino regional Park and buffer zone further marginalised, and the associated landscape changes are perceived as a substantial loss of character and identity. This problem is emblematic for large parts of the Mediterranean. Comparing different landscapes reveal similar processes of landscape change, which can be related to similar driving forces. Based on such comparisons, we learn about possible trajectories of change, and ask for a comprehensive approach to land use management.

Keywords: cultural landscape; land use; terraces; biodiversity; driving forces


  • Aronson, J., Le Floc'h, E., David, J.F., Dhillion, S., Abrams, M., Guillerm, J.L., & Grossmann, A., (1998). Restoration ecology studies at Cazarils (southern France): Biodiversity and ecosystem trajectories in a Mediterranean landscape. Landscape and Urban Planning 41, 273-283.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Baudry, J., (1991). Ecological consequences of grazing extensification and land abandonment: Role of interactions between environment, society and techniques. Options Mediterraneennes. Serie A: Seminaires Mediterraneens.Google Scholar

  • Beaufoy, G., Baldock, D., & Clark, J., (1994). The nature of farming: low intensity farming systems in nine European countries. London Institute for European Environmenta Policy.Google Scholar

  • Benoit, G., & Comeau, A., (2005). A sustainable future for the Mediterranean: the Blue Plan's environment and development outlook. Earthscan.Google Scholar

  • Bernáldez, F.G., (1991). Ecological consequences of the abandonment of traditional land use systems in central Spain. Options Méditerranéennes 15, 23-29.Google Scholar

  • Blondel, J., & Aronson, J., (1995). Biodiversity and ecosystem function in the Mediterranean basin: human and non-human determinants, Mediterranean-type ecosystems. Springer, pp. 43-119.Google Scholar

  • Brancucci, G., & Paliaga, G., (2006). The hazard assessment in a terraced landscape: preliminary result of the Liguria (Italy) case study in the Interreg III Alpter Project. In N. Nadim, R. Pöttler, H. Einstein, H. Klapperich & S. Kramer (Eds.), Geohazards. ECI Symposium Series, P07 (p. 10). Retrieved December 6, 2006, from: http://dc.engconfintl.org/geohazards/16.Google Scholar

  • Bürgi, M., Hersperger, A., & Schneeberger, N., (2004). Driving forces of landscape change - current and new directions. Landscape Ecology 19, 857-868.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Caravel, H., (2000). A comparative analysis on intensification and extensification in Mediterranean agriculture: dilemmas for LFAs policy. Journal of Rural Studies 16, 231-242.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Conacher, A.J., & Sala, M., (1998). Land degradation in Mediterranean environments of the world: nature and extent, causes and solutions. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Cosor, G., Frederiksen, P., Geamana, N., Pilgaard Kristensen, S., Svenningsen, S.R., Sxistou, D., Terkenli, T.S., Pavlis, E., Vadineanu, A., & Van der Sluis, T., (2012). Literature study on land use and landscape change as a result of European policies - an overview of institutions and governance structures regarding land use change for different countries in Europe, In: Van der Sluis, T. (Ed.), VOLANTE Project reports, Copenhagen.Google Scholar

  • Ercoli, A., Nafissi, P., Mercati, F., Conedera, C., Facibeni, P., Moscardi, G., Vannucci, G., Collina, R., Moscardini, R., & De Filippi, G.L., (2001). Landscape Study Portofino. In: Fergus Foundation, (Ed.). GEOMAP Srl. (p. 695), Florence, Italy.Google Scholar

  • ESRI, (2011). ArcGIS Desktop: Release 10. Redlands, CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute.Google Scholar

  • Farina, A., (2006). Principles and methods in landscape ecology: towards a science of the landscape. Springer.Google Scholar

  • Galve, J.P., Cevasco, A., Brandolini, P., & Soldati, M., (2014). Assessment of shallow landslide risk mitigation measures based on land use planning through probabilistic modelling. pp. 1-14.Google Scholar

  • Gentile, S., Barberis, G., Menozzi, B., & Zanoni, T., (2004). Tipologia e carta della vegetatzione del territorio del Parco del Monte di Portofino/ Typology and map of the vegetation of the Monte di Portofino. Bilingual Italian-English edition, Milano.Google Scholar

  • Gondard, H., Romane, F., Grandjanny, M., Li, J.Q., & Aronson, J., (2001). Plant species diversity changes in abandoned chestnut (Castanea sativa) groves in southern France. Biodiversity and Conservation 10, 189-207.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Grove, A.T., & Rackham, O., (2003). The nature of Mediterranean Europe: an ecological history. Yale University Press.Google Scholar

  • Horden, P., & Purcell, N., (2000). The corrupting sea: a study of Mediterranean history. Blackwell Oxford Hubert, B., (1991). Changing land uses in Provence (France). Multiple use as a management tool. Options Mediterraneennes. Serie A: Seminaires Mediterraneens.Google Scholar

  • Kizos, T. & Koulouri, M., (2006). Agricultural landscape dynamics in the Mediterranean: Lesvos (Greece) case study using evidence from the last three centuries. Environmental Science & Policy 9, 330-342.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kizos, T. & Koulouri, M., (2010). Same Land Cover, Same Land Use at the Large Scale, Different Landscapes at the Small Scale: Landscape Change in Olive Plantations on Lesvos Island, Greece. Landscape Research 35, 449-467.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kizos, T., Koulouri, M., Vakoufaris, H., & Psarrou, M., (2010). Preserving Characteristics of the Agricultural Landscape through Agri-Environmental Policies: The Case of Cultivation Terraces in Greece. Landscape Research 35, 577-593.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kizos, T., Vasdeki, M., Chatzikiriakou C., & Dimitriou, D., (2011).‘For my children’: Different functions of the agricultural landscape and attitudes of farmers on different areas of Greece towards small scale landscape change. Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography, Vol. 111, No. 2, pp. 117-130.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Kizos, T., Plieninger, T., & Schaich, H., (2013). “Instead of 40 Sheep there are 400”: Traditional Grazing Practices and Landscape Change in Western Lesvos, Greece. Landscape Research 38, 476-498.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kizos, T., & Vlachos, G., (2012). The evolution of the agricultural landscape In: Papayiannis, T., Howard, P. (Eds.): Reclaiming the Greek landscape (pp. 133-143). MED-INA, Athens.Google Scholar

  • Kristensen, S.B.P., Gaube, V., Cosor, G., Terkenli, T.S., Baggelis, P., & Van der Sluis, T., (2012a). Land use trajectories - drivers and processes of landscape change in Europe, VOLANTE Project reports, Copenhagen.Google Scholar

  • Kristensen, S.B.P., Gravsholt Busck, A., Richard, A.S., T., V.d.S., Bogers, M., Hauser, L., Pedroli, B., Cosor, G., Vadineanu, A., Pavlis, E., Terkenli, T., Gaube, V., Lutz, J., & Bartels, L., (2012b). Summary reports for each case study including additional data, VOLANTE Project reports, Copenhagen.Google Scholar

  • Médail, F., & Quézel, P., (1999). Biodiversity Hotspots in the Mediterranean Basin: Setting Global Conservation Priorities. Conservation Biology 13, 1510-1513.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Mosconi, T., (2000). Former land use in the Monte di Portofino area. Interviews with old farmers, In: Pedroli, B., & Van der Sluis (Ed.), Monte di Portofino Landscape Ecological Survey. FERGUS-ON Foundation, Alterra.Google Scholar

  • Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., da Fonseca, G.A.B., & Kent, J., (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. 403, 853-858. OECD, (1997). Environmental benefits from agriculture: issues and policies, the Helsinki Seminar. Maatalousministeriö, Finland, p. 158.Google Scholar

  • Pedroli, B., Tagliasacchi, S., Van der Sluis, T., & Vos, W., (2013). Ecologia del paesaggio del Monte di Portofino/ Landscape Ecology of the Monte di Portofino. Bilingual Italian-English edition, Wageningen, 457 pp.Google Scholar

  • Petanidou, T., Kizos, T., & Soulakellis, N., (2008). 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. Environmental Management 41, 250-266.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Plieninger, T., Schaich, H., & Kizos, T., (2011). Land-use legacies in the forest structure of silvopastoral oak woodlands in the Eastern Mediterranean. Regional Environmental Change 11, 603-615.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Scarascia-Mugnozza, G., Oswald, H., Piussi, P., & Radoglou, K., (2000). Forests of the Mediterranean region: gaps in knowledge and research needs. Forest Ecology and Management 132, 97-109.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Simon, P., & Nixon, L., (2005). Ancient Greek Agricultural Terraces: Evidence from Texts and Archaeological Survey. American Journal of Archaeology 109, 665-694.Google Scholar

  • Stobbelaar, D.J., Kuiper, J., van Mansvelt, J.D., & Kabourakis, E., (2000). Landscape quality on organic farms in the Messara valley, Crete: Organic farms as components in the landscape. Agriculture, Ecosystems, Land; Environment 77, 79-93.Google Scholar

  • Stroosnijder, L., Mansinho, M.I., & Palese, A.M., (2008). OLIVERO: The project analysing the future of olive production systems on sloping land in the Mediterranean basin. Journal of Environmental Management 89, 75-85Web of SciencePubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Van der Sluis, T., Kristensen, S.B.P., Frederiksen, P., Cosor, G., Vădineanu, A., Pavlis, E., Terkenli, T.S., Gaube, V., & Vesterager, J.P., (2013). Landscape change processes in case study areas (WP2), VOLANTE Project reports. ALTERRA, Wageningen, 87p.Google Scholar

  • Vos, W., & Stortelder, A., (1992). Vanishing Tuscan Landscapes. Landscape Ecology of a Submediterranean-Montane Area (Solano Basin, Tuscany, Italy). Center for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation (Pudoc), Wageningen, The Netherlands.Google Scholar

  • Zavala, M.A., & Burkey, T.V., (1997). Application of ecological models to landscape planning: the case of the Mediterranean basin. Landscape and Urban Planning 38, 213-227 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Received: 2014-04-26

Accepted: 2014-07-18

Published Online: 2014-10-15

Published in Print: 2014-01-01

Citation Information: Journal of Landscape Ecology, Volume 7, Issue 1, Pages 23–44, ISSN (Online) 1805-4196, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/jlecol-2014-0008.

Export Citation

© 2014. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Francesco Faccini, Nicola Gabellieri, Guido Paliaga, Pietro Piana, Serafino Angelini, and Paola Coratza
Journal of Maps, 2018, Volume 14, Number 2, Page 87
Goran Andlar, Filip Šrajer, and Anita Trojanović
Acta geographica Slovenica, 2017, Volume 57, Number 2
Martina Slámová, Jana Krčmářová, Pavel Hronček, and Mariana Kaštierová
Moravian Geographical Reports, 2017, Volume 25, Number 1
Srivastava S., Dvivedi A., K. Rai S., and P. Shukla R.
International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, 2016, Volume 8, Number 12, Page 365
Giulia Sofia, Jean-Stephane Bailly, Nesrine Chehata, Paolo Tarolli, and Florent Levavasseur
IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 2016, Volume 9, Number 4, Page 1567

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in