Main authors: Cecilia De Ita, Lindsay C. Stringer, Luuk Fleskens, Diana Sietz
Contributing authors: Ioannis K. Tsanis, Ioannis N. Daliakopoulos, Ioanna Panagea, Michalakis Christoforou, Giovanni Quaranta, Rosanna Salvia, Sandra Valente, Cristina Ribeiro, Cláudia Fernandes, Oscar González-Pelayo, Jan Jacob Keizer, Alejandro Valdecantos, V. Ramón Vallejo and Susana Bautista
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: De Ita, C. et al. (2017) Report on multi-scale evaluation of CASCADE's management principles and grazing model scenarios with stakeholders and policy makers. CASCADE Project Deliverable 8.3 69 pp


In the Pissouri region, the land belongs to and remains under the control of the Forest Department, who commissions its use to shepherds. Workshops in Cyprus were held on two dates with different stakeholders in order to avoid conflict between a) shepherds and local authorities and b) land managers and researchers from governmental departments and academia. Contrasting opinions are held between the two groups and CASCADE researchers were mindful not to exacerbate these positions. During the two meetings, CASCADE’s principles and recommendations for overgrazing were discussed, as well as the different grazing scenarios (see »Improving SLM using land management scenario analysis).

A first meeting was held with the land users from Pissouri including shepherds and local authorities on 28th of January 2017, while on the 6th of February 2017 a second meeting was held with representatives from government departments (Forest, Environment, Agriculture, Wildlife, Fire) and the Faculty of Geotechnical Sciences and Environmental Management at CUT (see Figure 1).

D8.3 fig10

Stakeholders’ perceptions of grazing principles in Cyprus

The two meetings produced different results. In the second meeting, the stakeholders from all departments and the University agreed on the proposed principles, however, in the previous meeting shepherds disagreed with some principles, as outlined below.

For descriptions of the principles discussed here, see »Guidelines for land managers: the overgrazing context_EN

During the meetings with both shepherds and government representatives in Cyprus, regarding principle 1 “Reduction of vegetation increases soil erosion, leading to less fertile soil and less productive pastures” stakeholders mentioned that they realized the land was being degraded. Shepherds shared the narrative of Randi Forest being greener 100 years ago. They also have a point of comparison of the effect of grazing, as a highway was introduced in the 1990s that divided grazing areas from non-grazed areas. The effects of both kinds of management on the vegetation have helped them to understand the consequences of overgrazing.

Shepherds viewed some principles to be contrary to traditional practices. The discrepancy is mostly due to local beliefs rather than environmental and management evidence. The contentious principles are principles 2 “Integrating trees and pastures has ecological and socio-economic benefits”, 3 “Pest management requires an integrated ecosystem approach to promote natural predators” and 4 “Animal types and herd composition influence plant diversity and health”. The shepherds disagreed with the second principle, regarding integrating trees and pastures. Traditionally olive (Olea europaea) and carob (Ceratonia siliqua) trees have not been cultivated, and some hold the belief that these species are not easy to grow. However, after a discussion started by the youngest shepherd present, almost all the participants (with the exception of the eldest shepherd) agreed with the feasibility of the principle. As regards principle 3, all stakeholders disagreed with protecting the snakes, as traditionally they are hunted. Nowadays, shepherds are also hunting other important predators such as foxes, as they believe they destroy partridge eggs.

Stakeholders agreed with principle 5 “Controlled grazing reduces risk of fires, and maintains grass species and productivity of pastures” and with the rationale and criteria of principle 6, advocating for stopping grazing after a fire. Some shepherds mentioned that rotational grazing has had positive outcomes, and some suggested to keep some areas closed for longer, i.e. for more than 5 years. Rotating grazing areas was considered feasible by shepherds and government representatives. Some shepherds stated that grazing is not providing any food to herds, due to the degree of desertification on the land, therefore they already have to provide supplementary feed. However the shepherds perceived that they could only use rotational grazing if they are allowed to increase herd numbers, as this would allow them to increase individual income. According to local government representatives, the use of rotational grazing can be useful to prevent fires too. Shepherds also stated that the CASCADE workshops were the first time that any initiative had explained the consequences of overgrazing and the potential impacts on environmental services in the future. This indicates a strength of the participatory approach followed in the project.

In the second meeting, the stakeholders from all departments and the University agreed on the proposed principles. They also suggested the following relating to rotational grazing:

  • Keep the animals in specific pasture areas and allow grazing using a rotational pasture system
  • Divide the area into 3-5 large zones and allow grazing through rotation to control vegetation.
  • Use rotational grazing to avoid fires and make firebreaks

After discussing the management principles, the management scenarios and the management suggestions resulting from the model were discussed with the stakeholders.

Stakeholders’ perceptions of findings from the scenario analysis

All the stakeholders agreed with the premise that the model simulations reflect the vegetation trends towards degradation and recovery in the study sites. In Table 1 the answers to the questions and responses of the workshop participants can be seen. The shepherds recalled how 30 years ago, the vegetation cover was around 50%, and 250 animals used to graze the area. Therefore, the model makes sense, as it meant recovering previous conditions. During the second stakeholder workshop with non–pastoralists, the participants were unable to answer questions about how realistic the model simulations are, but suggested looking at past aerial photographs.

Shepherds in the first workshop mentioned that they could comply with using rotational grazing as a measure to allow vegetation to regrow in specific areas. Non-pastoralists in the second workshop agreed with the feasibility of rotational grazing, and even with stopping grazing for a number of years.

Question 3 was not fully applicable in this study site as vegetation has not been successfully restored, and sites with natural regeneration have the thorny shrub Callicotome vilosa, which is a potential fire fuel.

Table 1. Responses to questions 1) Do the model simulations realistically reflect trends of vegetation degradation and recovery observed in the study sites and 2) Considering the model simulations, do the management principles and recommendations make sense for the study sites? What key aspects would need to be changed? 13 participants across the two workshops answered the questions. The shepherd answers are in white, non-pastoralists answers are in blue shaded boxes.

Participant Q1 Q2  Notes on Question 1  Notes on Question 2 
 1  yes yes - Agreed that the vegetation Cover was around 50% 30 years ago and 250 animals used to graze     
2 yes yes Allow us to increase the number of animals and reduce the amount of grazing animals or do not allow grazing
3 yes yes -
4 yes yes -
5  yes yes Keep the animals in specific pasture areas and allow grazing using a rotational pasture system
6 yes yes Keep the animals in specific pasture areas and allow grazing using a rotational pasture system *Vegetation Cover was more than 50%, 30 years ago and the British used to allow only 72 goats to graze per livestock in the Randi Forest
7 yes yes   I do not know
8 yes yes Divide the area into 3-5 large zones allow grazing through rotation in order to control vegetation. The area is overgrazed and the number of animals grazed in 25 ha is three times larger. The animals should continue to graze on a controlled basis in order not to allow the Callicotome to expand in the area and convert into biofuel. Also the milk products from the Pissouri area have the advantage of origin¹. We shouldn’t lose that.
9 yes yes I agree with 10 years of non-grazing in order for the vegetation to recover. After 8-10 years we should allow controlled grazing in order to prevent possible fires due to the shrubs. Also, if the area is too crowded with animals them some should move elsewhere. I do not know.
10 yes no I believe that vegetation will need more than 10 years to recover. Grazing should stop. I do not know.
11 yes yes Divide the area into zones and allow grazing through rotation in order to control vegetation. I do not know.
12 yes yes Use rotational grazing. You may find the answer from aerial pictures taken by the British during the 1960s.
13 yes yes Use rotational grazing in order to avoid fires and make firebreaks. I do not know.

¹With the term advantage of origin, the stakeholder meant that animal produce in the Randi Forest, has a specific quality and flavour due to the presence of specific herbs grazed by animals, therefore milk and cheese have some characteristics (texture and aroma) unique for the Randi area.

Note: For full references to papers quoted in this article see

» References

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