Authors: Cecelia De Ita, Lindsay Stringer, Luuk Fleskens, Andy Dougill
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: De Ita et al. (2015) Report on stakeholder adaptation strategies in the CASCADE study sites. CASCADE Project Deliverable 8.1.


Groups of stakeholders in each of the six study sites attended workshops to discuss

  1. whether they have noticed changes in environmental conditions and/or regime changes, and how they adapted to those changes, over and up to a period of 20 years from the present, and
  2. what kind of changes they expect to witness in the future (up to 20 years from the present) as well as what future changes, strategies and adaptation measures they perceive they might make to their land use and management, in order to adapt to those possible future changes.

Who were the stakeholders?

Stakeholders included:

  1. land users (farmers, shepherds, transient and sedentary land users, managers and hunters);
  2. landscape users (naturalists, photographers, tourist guides);
  3. government stakeholders from environment departments, local councils and forestry departments;
  4. stakeholders from environmental NGOs;
  5. the private sector;
  6. researchers.

(NB: Not all sites had the same groups of stakeholders.)

Perceptions of changes in environmental conditions and/or regime shifts

The stakeholders identified a range of different types of regime changes including land use changes, environmental and ecological changes, and climatic events that have taken place in the past.

Regime changes Várzea, Portugal Albatera, Spain Ayora, Spain Castelsaraceno, Italy Messara, Greece Randi Forest, Cyprus


2000- pre-
2000- pre-
2000- pre-
2000- pre-
2000- pre-
Invasive and exotic vegetation     X           X             X X X
Expansion of shrubland     X           X             X X X
Changes in the local fauna (generalists and/or exotic species)     X           X   X X         X X
Increase in wildfires   X X           X                  
Plagues and diseases affecting trees   X X           X   X X            
Decrease in pine regeneration X X X                              
Abandonment of agricultural areas X X X   X X X X X   X X            
Agricultural use of forested areas       X X           X X            
Land denudation and erosion       X X X   X X   X X       X X X
Rangeland abandonment       X X X   X X                  
Increase in irrigated croplands       X X X                        
Native vegetation reduction       X X     X X   X X   X X X X X
Increase in woodlands and forest     X     X                        
Droughts                 X         X X   X X
Abandonment of farming areas                     X X            
Reduced rainfall                 X   X X            
Increased temperatures, reduced seasonality differences, extreme weather conditions                 X   X X            
Changes in surface water bodies                     X X   X X      

However, they tended not to clearly differentiate between regime changes and the drivers of those changes. For example, erosion could be seen as both a regime change driven by changes in land use practices, and as a driver of vegetation loss. The fuzziness between changes/drivers was particularly apparent in relation to climate change events, which stakeholders quoted both as a change in themselves, and as a driver of change. As most stakeholders had this ambiguous view across the study sites, and it was clear that they saw drivers and effects/consequences as part of a vicious cycle of use-damage-more intensive uses-more damage.

Another challenge with the data received is that when describing the changes in regime, most stakeholders referred to a period of more than 20 years ago, despite being asked only about the last 20 years. As such, they described the changes in the time frame that they had observed within their memorable lifetime, instead of referring to the time frame that was asked of them. This made it difficult to establish a reference/baseline period, which was deemed necessary to permit comparisons to be made and establish whether stakeholders were talking about the same change(s) as one another, or not. Finally, while stakeholders mentioned the changes taking place and the adaptations undertaken, specific changes were not always linked to specific adaptations. This further complicated the analysis.

Stakeholder adaptations to change

Although there was some overlap between them, four areas into which stakeholders are currently channeling their adaptation efforts were identified.

  1. Environmental management adaptations, the main activities that stakeholders undertook in response to regime changes across all study sites (67% of measures across sites). These referred mostly to prevention and management of deleterious environmental changes, and to the recovery of nature and rural practices.
  2. Socio-political adaptations, (15%) and consisted of improving land use and environmental management through cross-sector organization, advancing or creating policies for land use and land users, and patrolling to prevent illegal practices.
  3. Socio-economic adaptations, stakeholders mentioned economic support, subsidies, and migration.
  4. Cultural adaptations.

Environmental management adaptation measures were the main activities that stakeholders undertook in response to regime changes across all study sites. These referred mostly to prevention and management of deleterious environmental changes, and to the recovery of nature and rural practices. (Rural practices are an example of an adaptation that may also be considered in the cultural adaptation category. Given the links to land management, we classified rural practices under environmental management adaptations). Socio-political measures consisted of improving land use and environmental management through cross-sector organization, advancing or creating policies for land use and land users, and patrolling to prevent illegal practices. Under socio-economic measures, stakeholders mentioned economic support, subsidies, and migration.

Study site Environmental management Socio-political Socio-economic Cultural
Várzea, Portugal • I was forced to move the bee hives to other places with more balanced ecosystems.
• Remove the affected trees.
• Active forest production, plantations of Eucalyptus globulus and Pinus pinaster.
• Logging and removal of the affected trees.
• Constitution of the Municipal Forest Technical Offices.
• Changes in the legislation of the forest sector.
• More value attributed to the forest sector
• Application for subsidies for clearing the forest and for reforestation.
Albatera, Spain • Promoting new restoration approaches in recent reforestation programs aimed at introducing a large variety of native species and improved restoration techniques
• Multi-species pilot project (25 ha) and a further large-scale restoration project (600 ha), in the south facing slope of the Crevillent-Albatera range. The actions have favoured the establishment of tree, shrub and herbaceous species already present in the area and have established soil conservation measures.
• Replacing olive, almond and carob trees with fig, pomegranate and lemon trees.
    • Practicing of constant educational and raising-awareness work through the association and a personal blog. The association regularly organizes and promotes cleaning and restoration activities in disturbed areas.
Ayora, Spain • Respondents have had to look for more suitable places to install bee hives, with higher rainfall, to allow flowering
• More resources have been devoted to vigilance and extinction but little to the primary causes of change (clearing and maintenance)
• Changing game habits and protecting the land as much as possible
• Developing more research aimed at reducing fire hazards and increasing ecosystem resilience
• Elaboration of environmental reports with more detailed information about problems and solutions
• Developing treatments and prevention plans although they are not always fully implemented • Economic support (subsidies/ compensation) has been provided to farmers whose crops were affected and damaged by large animals • Assuming a loss in resource value
• Resignation and acceptance that losses will occur.
Castelsaraceno, Italy • Clearing of uncultivated land sporadically
• Hunters only clear areas suitable for hunting
• Other land users avoid overgrown shrub areas
• Moving pasture to surrounding areas
• Increased hunting of pigeons and boar
• Plans to cull foxes
• Livestock farmers are able to use pastures for much longer periods in winter
• Repairing of the river embankments every time there is a flood which perhaps has re-prioritised the local authorities’ public spending, as investments are needed to repair and strengthen banks
• Moving activities to areas not affected by erosion without restoring the affected areas
• Investment in the upkeep of pathways and lanes which are essential for viability
• Abandonment of crop rotation
• Shelter construction
  • The sale of land to extra locals who purchase speculatively (to then access EU/EEC contributions)
• Migration of locals from the countryside towards inhabited centres.
• Livestock farmers have progressively abandoned their activities
• Adaptation by purchasing low cost imported goods Extra local forage purchase
• Abandonment of sheep and cattle farming
• No direct adaptation although awareness increased of the need to educate the younger generations about how to maintain and protect the local territory, both at school and through environmental awareness campaigns
• Donating things no longer required to those in need
Messara, Greece • Seeding barley or similar crops for animal fodder
• Afforestation of the pastureland with Ceratonia Siliqua (documented in the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT)), which is now used as fodder, combined with rotational grazing.
• Reduction of water pumped from the existing wells, and use of water for irrigation from the dam in Faneromeni
• Common water harvesting watering points (as documented in WOCAT).
• By applying the measures decided in the Water Management Plan
• Development of the new irrigation plan of Messara Valley, based on the basic FAO plan
• Better distribution of subsidies (possibly through improved criteria)  
Randi Forest, Cyprus • Use of rat baits
• Road cleaning
• Making terraces to stop erosion
• Planting trees
• Protecting the neck of the carob trees to avoid rat attack
• Reproducing some of the native wild animal species and releasing them.
• Protection of snakes and fox as they reduce the numbers of rats
• Most of the land is private. Attempts are made to try to protect the governmental land by patrolling the area and observing the flora and fauna
• We patrol the area and observe. We proposed to move some farms to another area which has more grass to graze and there is more water for shepherds to cultivate grass.
• We inspect the area daily for outlaw hunters and observe and count the number of animal species present in the area.
• The south–west area of the Pissouri village is included in the Nature 2000 project
• Import food into the farm to feed the goats and allow the goats to go as far as they can to find food to graze  

Future adaptation to change

When answering about the policy/economic support required to facilitate adaptation, stakeholders differed in their needs and visions for future efforts. Responses of wanting/desiring/ needing differed from the measures they are already carrying out, in which they stated what was lacking, or identified better ways of implementing current efforts.

Most areas of support required were directed towards environmental management (30%) and socio-political and cultural measures (22% each).

There were also suggestions for new approaches including a) engagement in new activities/or new practices such as aiming for product certifications, engagement in or promotion of rural tourism, organising cooperatives, and the use of alternative energy sources; and b) other changes, in which there are efforts towards education, engagement of new generations in rural activities, revaluation of rural stakeholders and traditional practices, which, with the exception of two stakeholders (from Italy and Albatera, Spain) who stated that they were devoting efforts to education, was not currently being practised.



Go To Top