Cyprus is taking part in a project aimed at mitigating soil erosion through sustainable land and water management.
The project brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers and other professionals from Greece, Italy, Germany, Cyprus, Israel, Spain, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt.
About half a ton of fertile soil per hectare is lost yearly in the Mediterranean, close to double the European average. At the same time, water resources in the region are under constant strain, due to limited rainfall and long dry spells and anthropogenic factors, such as climate change, urbanisation, population growth and over-exploitation of resources.
This pressure inevitably leads Mediterranean countries into a downward spiral of land degradation and desertification, and Cyprus is no exception. The loss of fertile soil is a top environmental threat to local ecosystems as well as to the livelihoods of local communities.
Promising mitigation measures are well-known and include strategies such as afforestation of marginal lands, dry-stone walls in mountainous areas, mulching to conserve soil moisture, differentiated cultivation as opposed to monocultures, and animal-integrated biological management of soil. However, the adoption of restoration requires buy-in from the region’s social, economic and environmental stakeholders.
In Cyprus, the Prima team project is headed by assistant professor in hydrology & water management, Adriana Bruggeman of The Cyprus Institute and the team’s work will focus on restoration in terraced landscapes. Post-doctoral fellow in hydrology and land management, Hakan Djuma, says the institute’s field research in Cyprus has shown that well-maintained dry-stone terraces can reduce soil erosion by nearly one fourth.
The project’s kickoff meeting was held in June in Crete, where degraded land was returned to productivity through reforestation with forest trees as well as tree crop species, mainly carobs.
Prima (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) is an EU programme focused on building research and innovation capacities and devising innovative solutions to critical water and agro-ecosystem problems in the region.
More information can be found on the Prima website REACT4MED: https://prima-med.org/projects/react4med/ and via email at: [email protected].