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"Instead of 40 Sheep there are 400": Traditional Grazing Practices and Landscape Change in Western Lesvos, Greece


  • Thanasis Kizos
  • Tobias Plieninger
  • Harald Schaich


In the semi-arid zones of the Eastern Mediterranean, husbandry of sheep and goats has been an integral part of livelihoods and survival strategies since the Neolithic, but underwent major changes after approximately the 1960s. In this paper, we analyse the landscape changes that were induced by the following increase of sheep numbers and the underlying socio-economic and biophysical driving forces in an insular semi-arid locality of the Eastern Mediterranean, Western Lesvos, Greece. Thirty-four sheep farmers were surveyed and secondary sources such as agricultural statistics and regional literature were analysed. The findings indicate a transition from an agrosilvopastoral system strongly dependent on local ecosystem services to a market economy with intensified animal production that has brought a significant loss of traditional ecological knowledge. This loss is expressed in the simplification of current management practices in comparison to former ones. The causes of the resulting intensification and environmental degradation are mostly economic (low incomes from farming) and social (inability to manage collectively common resources). The landscape changes recorded are less arable land and more grazing lands in a time frame stretching back to the 1960s.

Suggested Citation

  • Thanasis Kizos & Tobias Plieninger & Harald Schaich, 2013. ""Instead of 40 Sheep there are 400": Traditional Grazing Practices and Landscape Change in Western Lesvos, Greece," Landscape Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 476-498, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:clarxx:v:38:y:2013:i:4:p:476-498
    DOI: 10.1080/01426397.2013.783905

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    Cited by:

    1. Costas Kosmas & Vassilis Detsis & Mina Karamesouti & Kate Kounalaki & Penny Vassiliou & Luca Salvati, 2015. "Exploring Long-Term Impact of Grazing Management on Land Degradation in the Socio-Ecological System of Asteroussia Mountains, Greece," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-19, July.

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