Authors: Cecelia De Ita, Lindsay Stringer, Luuk Fleskens, Andy Dougill, with input from study sites
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.


In Messara, the dates reported for changes were from around 30 years ago (~ 1984), as noted by three participants. All stakeholders mentioned human drivers of change, in terms of promoting the overuse of resources, and denouncing the use of incorrect/poor practices but also blocking positive change, as the removal of goats is not allowed. A transient land user stated that: “due to socioeconomic conditions in the area, the number of farmers escalated in the 1970s.” Furthermore, animal production started being subsidized by Greece and the EU, supporting the new farmers. As a result, the number of animals increased. Goats (vs sheep) are acknowledged as a driver of land degradation but heritage does not “permit their removal”.

The increase in grazing was felt to be motivated by high unemployment rates, while the intensification of agriculture and the change to irrigated crops, driven by subsidies, were considered as socio-economic drivers. These were said to have caused a serious decrease in the natural vegetation, wildlife and water levels.

Table: Drivers of change identified by stakeholders in Messara, Greece.CASCADiS Table

Drivers Groups of transient land users Sedentary land managers operating at small scale Governmental institutions
Intensity of farming  X    X
Inappropriate subsidies X X  
Increase in the intensity of grazing X X  
Environmental regulations in place X   X
Changes in agricultural practices (use of irrigation) X X X
Socio-economic conditions in the area X X X
Intensity of water use   X X

The main changes to traditional forms of land use quoted by stakeholders were the changes from subsistence agriculture to monoculture olive orchards, and difficulties in grazing animals due to the destruction of the pasture and the drying up of the springs that used to serve the animals.  Equally, all stakeholders mentioned that they have modified their practices in order to adapt to the changes. Sedentary land users stated that they have been seeding barley or similar crops for use as animal fodder, and using rotational grazing techniques, afforesting pastureland with Ceratonia siliqua, which is now used as fodder, combined with rotational grazing, and using water from a dam. The status of the dam is unclear as it covers part of their current needs but it is possible that the price of water is more expensive than pumping from local wells.

These trends in land and water availability are expected by the stakeholders to continue and intensify if current practices continue. Negative socio-economic consequences were expected such as the abandonment of rural properties, as well as a lack of farming succession by younger generations, property loss by young farmers and conflicts between communities. As a sedentary land user stated: “There has been an increase in conflicts in the community as farmers and pastoralists have to share the same resource (productive land). Pastoralists let the animals graze freely in the fields and that way they can destroy trees and other property.”

Table: Summary of future expectations, alternative land management options and policy/economic support required by stakeholder groups in Messara, Greece.

Stakeholder Group Future expectations Alternative land options Policy required
Land users •    Total destruction of the pasturelands.
•    Abandonment of traditional farming and grazing practices by younger generations
•    Loss of farms
•    Increase in conflicts between farmers and pastoralists
•    Subsidies allocated considering local characteristics
•    Development of a livestock park under a farmers’ union with specific motives and targets using modern technology.
•    Switch to more traditional, less invasive practices
•    Use of greenhouses
•    Increase the potential of the dams by diverting a stream from a nearby watershed.
•    Changing the way that subsides are distributed
•    Funding for innovating entrepreneurship actions in agriculture
•    Support Agricultural Product Certification
•    Enhance education and training
•    Provide organized strategies and policy regarding the agriculture and livestock sector.
Governmental Institutions •    Further increases in water demand will put water resources under further pressure, thus increasing conflict among users. •    More efficient agricultural water consumption (e.g. greenhouses, drip irrigation etc.) so that water conflict is reduced •    Applying the measures decided in the Water Management Plan

The policies and interventions suggested are mostly directed towards traditional forms of land use and environmental management. The need for tailored policies to suit local needs was pointed out by all stakeholders, such as the strategy proposed by a transient land user: “It is needed to change the way that subsides are distributed, taking into account the real productivity of each farmer e.g. the amount of produced milk, cheese, meat, olive oil, wine etc., and reducing taxes and fees of transportation, so that the end price of fodder in distant areas is lower.” Investing in alternative and innovative agricultural projects was also mentioned, in the form of supporting the development of product certification, organizing producers, and improving water management by increasing the potential of dams “by diverting a stream from a nearby watershed”.

Note: For an overview results of the workshops on identifying adaptation strategies in all study sites and the concluding recommendations see »Adaptation strategies.

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