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Sustainability 2015, 7(11), 15652-15673; doi:10.3390/su71115652

Landscape Pattern Changes in Response to Transhumance Abandonment on Mountain Vermio (North Greece)

1
Laboratory of Rangeland Ecology, Department of Forestry and Natural Environment, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 286, Thessaloniki 54124, Greece
2
Laboratory of Forest Management and Remote Sensing, Department of Forestry and Natural Environment, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 248, Thessaloniki 54124, Greece
3
Laboratory of Range Management, Department of Forestry and Natural Environment, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 236, Thessaloniki 54124, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Audrey L. Mayer
Received: 28 September 2015 / Revised: 3 November 2015 / Accepted: 16 November 2015 / Published: 23 November 2015
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Abstract

Transhumance, the seasonal movement of herds between highlands and lowlands following precise, repeated routes, is a common practice in many Mediterranean regions. This livestock movement exploits natural vegetation in both winter and summer pastures. In Greece transhumant herders, drawn by relatively abundant vegetation, usually relocate to mountainous areas between April and October. Mount Vermio was an ideal summer pasture for the nomadic, ethnic group Sarakatsanoi of Thessaly, who used to own big herds. Socio-economic conditions of the 20th century led to the gradual decline of transhumance, resulting in reduction in grazing pressure and changes in vegetation dynamics. The purpose of this study was to monitor changes in landscape patterns in response to transhumance abandonment. Landscape metrics were employed to estimate land use/cover in two altitudinal zones. Results reveal that due to the abandonment of transhumance in the highlands landscape fragmentation increased. Meanwhile, in the lowlands, due to the uninterrupted presence of animals, landscape structure is more stable and diversified. Grasslands and agroforestry systems became smaller and more isolated. In conclusion, the abandonment of transhumance led to the overall deterioration of the rural landscape in the highlands. View Full-Text
Keywords: landscape metrics; land-cover changes; GIS; spatial analysis; Sarakatsanoi landscape metrics; land-cover changes; GIS; spatial analysis; Sarakatsanoi
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sidiropoulou, A.; Karatassiou, M.; Galidaki, G.; Sklavou, P. Landscape Pattern Changes in Response to Transhumance Abandonment on Mountain Vermio (North Greece). Sustainability 2015, 7, 15652-15673.

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