The agricultural heritage of Lampedusa (Pelagie Archipelago, South Italy) and its key role for cultivar and wildlife conservation
AbstractAs occurred on many other small Mediterranean islands, agricultural activity at Lampedusa (Strait of Sicily) underwent a very strong decline in terms of surface area during the second half of the last century. In particular, cereal crops have ceased and horticulture is disappearing, while vineyards still occupy a reduced area but are quickly vanishing and currently survive thanks to a small number of old farmers. Here are presented the results of a research carried out by interviewing seven farmers in order to study not only the techniques and the germplasm used in local viticulture, but also the final use of grapes and an evaluation on the connection between traditional farming and agro-ecosystems plant species-richness. Vines were grown for wine, to produce fresh and sun-dried grapes, or to preserve them in alcohol. Several names of the local varieties suggest that they might have been introduced in Lampedusa from the neighbouring territories: being fishermen and farmers at the same time, local people had trade relationships with other Mediterranean areas such as Tunisia, Malta and Southern Italy. Furthermore, local farming plays a key role in plant conservation. In fact, the disappearance of agricultural systems is leading to the extinction of 43 plant species, some of them considered rare not only on the local level, but also on the regional and national one. Because of the small size of farmland and its fragmentation, local agriculture cannot be supported by the European Community. Therefore, in order to safeguard local viticulture, special systems of assistance and new managing policies - focused on rural development plans and showing which concrete actions are necessary and feasible to protect the agroecosystems - are needed.
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Copyright (c) 2011 Tommaso La Mantia, Francesco Carimi, Rosario Di Lorenzo, Salvatore Pasta
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