As commonly known, biodiversity improves the functions of ecosystems and prevents their collapse when environmental changes happen, providing to the systems higher resilience and adaptation to variations. Many human practices have had a positive contribution to the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, constituting a main provision factor to the ecological and functional integrity of the Mediterranean cultural landscapes. Nowadays, human intervention still contributes to conservation of natural resources, and determines among some natural factors (for instance, soil or climate), biodiversity levels in many cultural landscapes.
Across the Mediterranean countries, we are observing how agricultural landscapes are evolving in a polarizing trend towards abandonment or intensification. This actual conversion of agricultural systems is provoking the loss of the associated biodiversity, as numerous wild species depend on agrosilvopastoral practices in different and often complex and multidirectional ways. This is reducing their resilience and adaptation to variations, causing instability, and increasing the risk of collapse of the entire system.
Fortunately, some agricultural, pastoral and silvicultural practices maintain elements of wild diversity across the Mediterranean basin benefiting the equilibrium of the system. Those types of agriculture are being lost due to the economic difficultness of maintaining them, as most relate to lower productivity and profitability. This is partly due to lack of recognition and measurement of the ecosystems services that those cultural practices provide. To stop the loss of these valuable systems, it is decisive to enhance the link between biodiversity and agricultural practices that maintain it, promoting more action towards the support and the upholding of this type of farming.
For this reason since 2017, several conservation organizations in the Mediterranean basin are working together for the preservation of cultural landscapes.
The long-term vision is that the value of beneficial practices is widely acknowledged and these practices used broadly, contributing in maintaining large areas of diverse Mediterranean landscapes.
1.- By 2020, new and convincing evidence about the link between biodiversity and traditional, sustainable cultural land use practices around the Mediterranean is generated and widely disseminated.
2.- By 2021, the link between biodiversity, and traditional, sustainable land-use practices is well studied and forms the basis to support specific, traditional land-use practices.
3.- By 2021, there is an agreed (comparable) best common scientific methodology to assess the link between biodiversity and sustainable cultural land use practices around the Mediterranean.
To strength the knowledge on linkages between cultural practices and biodiversity at the Mediterranean basin and analysing the biodiversity associated to cultural practices at five pilot sites (Dehesas/Montados in Spain and Portugal; Al Shouf in Lebanon; High Atlas in Morocco, Menorca island in Spain and Lemnos island in Greece).
The aim is to recognize that many human practices constitute a critical contributing factor to the ecological and functional integrity of the landscape; Clearly defining and describing the cultural practices that are shaping the landscape, promote exchanges and learning, and finally promote long term monitoring system to follow up temporal evolution of both practice of focus, and associated biodiversity.
Adding to the above mentioned, to enhance these types of practises around all the Mediterranean countries, creating a database compiling examples of the feedback loops between agricultural practices and biodiversity, to prove the beneficial of those practices to maintain the correct functionality of the Mediterranean cultural landscapes.
1. Dehesas and Montados in Iberia landscape: Trashumancia y Naturaleza (TyN), WWF Spain and WWF Portugal;
2. Shouf Mountain landscape: Al Shouf Cedar Society (ACS) and SPNL;
3. Lemnos Island landscape: MedINA and its partners, such as the Agricultural University of Athens;
4. High Atlas landscape: Global Diversity Foundation (GDF) and its partners;
5. Menorca Island landscape: GOB.
The project is scheduled over three year’s period (2017-2019)