Messara Valley, Crete, Greece

Editor's note 6Sept12: This is the old version of the map, it needs to be updated to omit eastern area. Note this page has to be edited with "no editor" to keep the google map. Eleni - the text of this introduction cannot be edited from the front end. You need to copy and paste into a word document, make the corrections using track changes and email it to Jane.


The Messara Valley is in the Heraklion Prefecture of Crete. Crete is a rugged, mountainous island with humid, relatively cold winters and warm summers. Deep alluvial soils are found on the lowlands with moderately deep to shallow soils on the hilly areas which also exhibit exposed parent material due to an advanced degree of erosion. The island's vegetation has been subject to human interference over many centuries. Currently the lowlands are characterised by maquis and economically valuable forests of various Conifera species. Olive and vine plantations cover the lowlands and hilly areas. Citrus, avocado and vegetables are grown in the productive lowland soils.

Principal LEDD problems

Pastures, olive groves and vineyards are all highly affected by degradation and desertification problems. High stocking rates, pastoral techniques and frequent fire have led to a significant decline in pasture qualtiy and productivity. Cultivation practices intended to enhance soil water storage lead instead lead to high erosion rates in the hilly areas. Efforts to increase production by irrigation has led to the over-expoitation of aquifers. Low agricultural income has led to land abandonment and migration. Tourism policies have favoured uncontrolled development with overbuilding on coastal and sensitive areas.

Responses to LEDD

On the agricultural land management practices include replacement of citrus with more profitable avocado; changes to the number and timing of tillage operations; expansion of olive plantations in upper hilly areas but abandonment of steep slopes of low productivity; intensive cultivation of vineyards in more productive soils; shifting from agricultural to tourist land use in coastal areas; reduction of irrigation in citrus and olives.

On pasture managment practices respond to the physical environment and by socio-economic pressures. Upland, inaccessible areas tend to be grazed in the summer, while those in the middle or lowlands are grazed during the winter.

2014-11-28 10:49:25