Abandoned lands: Agricultural shifts in the Mediterranean

Area characterisation: 

All regions with Mediterranean environment in countries bordering directly to the Mediterranean Sea.


This exemplar examines how changes in the way farmers manage their land in the Mediterranean area lead to changes in sustainable provisioning of ecosystem services. Land management needs to respond to threats such as economic crises, poverty, climate change, changing water availability, increasing dependency on technology, urbanization and pollution. In the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, all of these issues are present. Governments, farmers and land owners are searching for information to make the best decisions possible for the future.

Potential impacts/benefits: 
  • Integration of methods, in particular expert based assessments and process modelling.
  • Availability of experts via existing and developing networks.
  • A shared sense of urgency for the topic among partners, experts and stakeholders.
Transferability of the result: 

This exemplar combines process-based modelling of agro-ecosystems with data on farming strategies and assessments of how farmers might change their management behaviour in the future. The goal is to quantify the nature and consequence of these changes, using coherent scientific methods.

Lessons learned: 

Acquiring data for all the Mediterranean environmental zone remains a methodological challenge. Nevertheless, stakeholders appear to appreciate even first-order estimates of likely future changes in ecosystem service supply. Expert judgements, using qualitative estimates, show that ecosystem service supply is at risk to decrease at an alarming rate in the near future, despite growing demand following increasing human populations. We now use more detailed agricultural case studies and specifically designed agro-ecosystem models to better quantify these changes and to suggest alternative management strategies for the future.~