Both intensification and abandonment have been features of the Cypriot agricultural landscape for the past 30-50 years. As noted by Panayides (in press) the area of agricultural land on the Island has steadily decreased (down by 14.3% between 1975 and 1999) and become more intensified.
The extent of uncultivated or abandoned farmland more than doubled from 12.7% of agricultural land in 1960 to 27.5% in 1999. Almonds, carobs and especially vineyards have been particularly affected by abandonment, vine cover dropping by 45.5% between 1975 and 1999. The proportion of growing land left fallow each year dropped from 33% to 3.2% over the same period, while the proportion of irrigated land shot up from 8.8% to 26.6%. In dry climates, irrigation often paves the way for intensification.
Between 1977 and 1999, use of farm machinery increased 77% and biocide use five-fold (from 3.2kg/ha/year to 15.2kg/ha/year of active ingredient). Application of artificial fertiliser increased from 335 kg/ha/year in the 1960s to 493 kg/ha/year in the 1990s. Construction of drystone walls has been in decline since 1960 and has now come to a stop (Panayides, in press).
Panayides’s data refer to Cyprus south of the divide. The picture north of the dividing line is less clear, but agriculture seems generally less intensive, although intensifying. Some abandonment is evident in some areas in the north (Morphou, Kyrenia).
Panayides, P., (in press): Six aspects of land use and development activity that result in adverse effects to Cypriot wildlife resources. Report for Cyprus Game Fund Service (Ministry of Interior)
Martin Hellicar, Martin.Hellicar(at)birdlifecyprus.org.cy