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Special Issue "Exploring Agricultural Heritage in European and Mediterranean Countries"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Tourism, Culture, and Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2021) | Viewed by 9553

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Antonio Santoro
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI), University of Florence, 50145 Firenze, Italy
Interests: rural landscape; agricultural heritage; cultural landscape; agroforestry; GIAHS; sustainable forest management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Mauro Agnoletti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI), University of Florence, 50145 Firenze, Italy
Interests: planning and management; rural landscape; agricultural heritage; cultural landscape; GIAHS; sustainable forest management; forest history
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

European and Mediterranean rural areas have undergone significant changes in the last few decades. These changes have deeply modified the European landscape, mainly due to two opposite phenomena. On one side, the abandonment of marginal rural areas has favoured the expansion of unmanaged woodlands, while on the other side, the intensification of the agricultural practices has led to the loss of a significant part of our agricultural heritage. Despite these changes, Europe and the Mediterranean basin still retain important traditional agricultural areas. In the last few years, these landscapes have become particularly important in order to promote sustainable development of rural areas. At the international level, the GIAHS programme promoted by FAO is specifically dedicated to agricultural heritage systems, since its aim is to identify agricultural systems of global importance, preserving their landscape, agro-biodiversity, traditional knowledge and associated culture, applying the principles of dynamic conservation in order to promote a sustainable development.

Also in Europe and the Mediterranean basin, agricultural heritage systems can play a fundamental role in rural development, since they represent examples of adaptation and resilience to climate change and to socioeconomic transformations, as well as examples of high quality productive systems that can be replicated in other areas.

The Special Issue aims to present different examples of agricultural heritage across Europe and Mediterranean countries, highlighting the varieties, the different forms of management, and their importance for the local communities and for the sustainable development of rural areas.

Dr. Antonio Santoro
Prof. Dr. Mauro Agnoletti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • rural landscape
  • agricultural heritage
  • GIAHS
  • rural development
  • landscape changes

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Learning from Agricultural Heritage? Lessons of Sustainability from Italian “Coltura Promiscua”
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8879; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168879 - 09 Aug 2021
Viewed by 649
Abstract
Agricultural heritage is gaining increasing importance as a repository of lessons to be learned for more sustainable agriculture in the future. Among the forgotten European agricultural heritage, the Italian grapevine “coltura promiscua,” which integrates agroforestry and intercropping, survives only in a few regions [...] Read more.
Agricultural heritage is gaining increasing importance as a repository of lessons to be learned for more sustainable agriculture in the future. Among the forgotten European agricultural heritage, the Italian grapevine “coltura promiscua,” which integrates agroforestry and intercropping, survives only in a few regions in the form of relics. Based on geographic, historic, agricultural literature published on the subject between 16th and 20th century with a focus on North eastern Italy, on previous fieldwork research, and on the analysis of recent candidacies to the Italian National register, this contribution identifies five principles that can be considered today as lessons of sustainability in agriculture: vertical intensification, spatial multifunctionality, resilience through crop diversity, labour-intensive production, personal/familiar/community attachment. Taken together, these principles describe a new rationality that seems to adapt to changed global and local conditions and can suggest new strategies to design new sustainable agricultural systems. The research suggests that sustainability principles can be found both by studying relics of agriculture heritage, and by carefully reading the literature that described them in the past, well before the concept of sustainability itself appeared in the scientific debate. Finally, this paper highlights some difficulties in practicing these lessons in modern agroforestry systems and suggests directions for future research. Full article
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Article
Selected Good Practices in the Hungarian Agricultural Heritage
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6676; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126676 - 11 Jun 2021
Viewed by 909
Abstract
Agriculture has always played a determining role in Hungarian landscapes. Forested areas were also under agricultural use; however, their use changed, starting at least from the Middle Ages when the need for new arable fields resulted in a tremendous decrease in forested areas. [...] Read more.
Agriculture has always played a determining role in Hungarian landscapes. Forested areas were also under agricultural use; however, their use changed, starting at least from the Middle Ages when the need for new arable fields resulted in a tremendous decrease in forested areas. The protection of forests started for many reasons, saving them for fuelwood and construction materials. This is the reason why there were periods when forests of the Carpathian Basin suffered from considerable pressure, and even today, this pressure continues; however, the source changed from animal husbandry to tourism, forestry, and wildlife management, or rather hunting. This created the need to search for and analyse former sustainable use of the forests. Furthermore, the consideration of the use of trees/treelines is under the scope of helping the climate adaptation of arable fields. Wooded grasslands have also been mapped and various analyses were done, related to their survival. We wish to introduce some of the ancestral forms of the agricultural use of Hungarian farming, where trees play an important role, their origin, distribution, threatening factors, and their future. Sustainable arable farming systems with trees, including wood-pastures; orchard grasslands and conventional, organic, and permaculture horticultural farms with various proportion of tree cover, will be described. Full article
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Article
Defining Landscapes, and Their Importance for National Identity—A Case Study from Slovenia
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6475; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116475 - 07 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 868
Abstract
Although each landscape has its own identity, only some of them are recognized as nationally important because of their cultural and natural values and their contribution to national identity. In Slovenia, these landscapes are listed in the national Spatial Development Strategy (adopted in [...] Read more.
Although each landscape has its own identity, only some of them are recognized as nationally important because of their cultural and natural values and their contribution to national identity. In Slovenia, these landscapes are listed in the national Spatial Development Strategy (adopted in 2004). However, this list was neither supported by implementation instruments nor integrated in any conservation or management policy documents and was poorly integrated into spatial plans. The aim of this research was to renew the methodology for identifying landscapes of national importance. The methods included in-depth interviews with experts, an online questionnaire, participatory workshops, and field visits. The questionnaire results showed that only eight landscapes from the original list of 62 were explicitly recognized as nationally important, which confirmed the hypothesis that the initial method was not transparent and that the criteria were biased. The proposed approach included the following criteria: (1) representativeness, (2) the quality of the landscape features, and (3) the cultural and scientific value. The methodology was accompanied with the list of landscape features and landscape types that are important for Slovenian national identity; recommendations for implementing the method on national, regional, and local levels; and the general guidelines for spatial planning and management of these landscapes. Full article
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Article
Agricultural Heritage Landscapes of Greece: Three Case Studies and Strategic Steps towards Their Acknowledgement, Conservation and Management
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5955; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115955 - 25 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1623
Abstract
United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the European Green Deal and the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are legislative proposals counting on rural and agricultural landscapes to assist climate change mitigation, ecosystem services and preservation of heritage. Agricultural landscapes take up more than [...] Read more.
United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the European Green Deal and the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are legislative proposals counting on rural and agricultural landscapes to assist climate change mitigation, ecosystem services and preservation of heritage. Agricultural landscapes take up more than 10% of the earth’s land surface (1.5 billion ha), presenting a continuous field of interaction between man and nature, shaping the earth’s epidermis since antiquity. The Mediterranean basin is one of the most evident places on earth exhibiting this relationship, between the anthropogenic and the natural, hosting lands of enormous ecological, economic and cultural value. With Greece’s economy being based largely on agriculture in the past, traditional Greek agricultural landscapes present great socio-cultural importance; those landscapes, managed appropriately, could dynamically help combat climate issues, continue to provide services of high value and also present local character, tradition and culture. Yet, the acknowledgement of agricultural heritage, the creation of mixed productive socio-ecological profiles and the realization of governance schemes towards agricultural connections, such as linking traditional agricultural practices to the wider anthropogenic, ecological and recreational services, are in their infancy for many countries worldwide, including Greece. Landscape heritage is considered as important as archaeological and architectural heritage. In this paper, three examples of high importance Agricultural Heritage Landscapes (AHLs) are presented: the masticulture in Chios island; the black (Corinthian) raisin vineyards in Aigialeia (Egialia), Peloponnese; and the olive groves of Thassos island. Their importance is analyzed and strategic steps towards their acknowledgement, conservation and appropriate management are presented. Full article
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Article
Old but Not Old Fashioned: Agricultural Landscapes as European Heritage and Basis for Sustainable Multifunctional Farming to Earn a Living
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4650; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094650 - 22 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 924
Abstract
Today, farmers are multioptional entrepreneurs, demanding far more skills than only those of agricultural production. The awareness of European agricultural landscape (EAL) values should enable farmers to create new business strategies. Open education repositories (OERs) based on online vocational education and training (VET) [...] Read more.
Today, farmers are multioptional entrepreneurs, demanding far more skills than only those of agricultural production. The awareness of European agricultural landscape (EAL) values should enable farmers to create new business strategies. Open education repositories (OERs) based on online vocational education and training (VET) are still not widespread. The project FEAL (multifunctional farming for the sustainability of EALs) has brought interactive material online based on results of two questionnaire surveys performed in Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. A survey of 31 experts confirmed that VET activities are very much needed for farmers. A survey of 28 farmers had different aims and content. Data collected from farmers were used to evaluate basic farm attributes, farmers’ characteristics, and keywords indicating the farms’ activities, multifunctionality and sustainability, and EALs, specifying the presence of nature- and landscape-protected areas. A decision-making schema, applying a collection of terms from literature analysis and the questionnaire’s results, is a support tool to develop a model of a farm that contributes to the preservation of the landscape’s character, strengthening the landscape’s quality, and sustainable business. The model presents the interactions of the farm (its territory and ancestral heritage, control of natural resources, tourism services and cultural events, public goods provision, and quality guarantees); socioeconomic strategies regarding quality, marketing, communication, business operation, and monitoring are proposed. Full article
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Article
Stacking Rocks to Transport Water: Folk Aqueduct Bridges of Mallorca and Spanish Colonial California
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5257; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135257 - 29 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 814
Abstract
The landscape of Mallorca, Spain is characterized by a number of features constructed of rock. Windmills and walls are ubiquitous and visually striking. Equally widespread, but not as conspicuous, are other features associated with canal irrigation. One such feature that is understudied and [...] Read more.
The landscape of Mallorca, Spain is characterized by a number of features constructed of rock. Windmills and walls are ubiquitous and visually striking. Equally widespread, but not as conspicuous, are other features associated with canal irrigation. One such feature that is understudied and therefore underappreciated is that of folk aqueduct bridges. This study investigates these features because they were critical in sustaining agriculture on the island for centuries, because they deserve recognition in order to be preserved as part of the island’s cultural and historical heritage, and because of their being antecedents or prototypes of similar structures built in Spanish colonial California. Two field seasons were devoted to locating and studying folk aqueduct bridges. Systematic windshield surveys were undertaken to identify such features. Once located, each folk aqueduct bridge was subjected to detailed description and analysis of size, shape, function, materials, and method of construction. Folk aqueduct bridges of Mallorca were built of shaped and unshaped stone, with channels made of ceramic tiles or ashlar tablets. Many of the rock walls once served as folk aqueduct bridges. Several California missionaries in the 18th century came from Mallorca, and the folk aqueduct bridges they built are based on those of their homeland. Full article
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Article
Evaluating Dominant Land Use/Land Cover Changes and Predicting Future Scenario in a Rural Region Using a Memoryless Stochastic Method
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4332; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104332 - 25 May 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1869
Abstract
The present study used the official Portuguese land use/land cover (LULC) maps (Carta de Uso e Ocupação do Solo, COS) from 1995, 2007, 2010, 2015, and 2018 to quantify, visualize, and predict the spatiotemporal LULC transitions in the Beja district, a [...] Read more.
The present study used the official Portuguese land use/land cover (LULC) maps (Carta de Uso e Ocupação do Solo, COS) from 1995, 2007, 2010, 2015, and 2018 to quantify, visualize, and predict the spatiotemporal LULC transitions in the Beja district, a rural region in the southeast of Portugal, which is experiencing marked landscape changes. Here, we computed the conventional transition matrices for in-depth statistical analysis of the LULC changes that have occurred from 1995 to 2018, providing supplementary statistics regarding the vulnerability of inter-class transitions by focusing on the dominant signals of change. We also investigated how the LULC is going to move in the future (2040) based on matrices of current states using the Discrete-Time Markov Chain (DTMC) model. The results revealed that, between 1995 and 2018, about 28% of the Beja district landscape changed. Particularly, croplands remain the predominant LULC class in more than half of the Beja district (in 2018 about 64%). However, the behavior of the inter-class transitions was significantly different between periods, and explicitly revealed that arable land, pastures, and forest were the most dynamic LULC classes. Few dominant (systematic) signals of change during the 1995–2018 period were observed, highlighting the transition of arable land to permanent crops (5%) and to pastures (2.9%), and the transition of pastures to forest (3.5%) and to arable land (2.7%). Simulation results showed that about 25% of the territory is predicted to experience major LULC changes from arable land (−3.81%), permanent crops (+2.93%), and forests (+2.60%) by 2040. Full article
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Article
Agroforestry Heritage Systems as Agrobiodiversity Hotspots. The Case of the Mountain Oases of Tunisia
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4054; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104054 - 15 May 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1308
Abstract
Traditional agricultural systems are receiving increasing attention at the international level due to their multifunctional role. The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aims to identify agricultural systems of global importance, preserve landscape, agrobiodiversity and [...] Read more.
Traditional agricultural systems are receiving increasing attention at the international level due to their multifunctional role. The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aims to identify agricultural systems of global importance, preserve landscape, agrobiodiversity and traditional knowledge and apply the principles of dynamic conservation to promote sustainable development. Biodiversity associated to traditional agricultural practices is particularly important, especially in difficult environments, like traditional oases, for ensuring food and nutrition to local communities. We documented landscape and biological diversity associated with traditional agricultural practices in three traditional oases in Tunisia, through a landscape analysis based on land-use survey, and an assessment of cultivated species. Results show that the landscape structure is dominated by agricultural land uses and characterized by a high level of diversification. Agrobiodiversity is high: we identified 20 varieties of date palm, 21 species of fruit trees, 21 vegetable species and two fodder crops. Results highlighted that traditional oases, as other agroforestry and agricultural heritage systems, continue to play a crucial role in maintaining genetic resources and agrobiodiversity. Farmers who, all over the world, still cultivate applying traditional practices are the main actors that practice a real conservation of genetic resources and diversity by maintaining traditional cultivars and a diversified landscape structure. Our methodology, based on the combined assessment of land uses and agrobiodiversity, can be replicated in other agricultural heritage systems to evaluate and measure possible transformations and identify the best strategies for their preservation. Full article
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