CASCADE Study Sites

CASCADE has 6 study sites which are located in southern Europe in a transect from West to East.

An overview of the CASCADE Study Sites together with a summary of the major characteristics is given in the table below. The 6 sites together cover the whole European part of the Mediterranean, as they range from Portugal to Cyprus. Most sites have distinctly semi-arid climate; the only exception being Portugal. However, despite the higher rainfall amount in Portugal, this site is also seasonally dry and is therefore fully representative for Mediterranean conditions.

Table 1. CASCADE Study Site overview.

Study Site Name

Area (km2)

Yearly rain (mm)

Average elevation a.s.l. (m)

Pop. density (persons
/km2)

Main eco-systems (%)

Main ecosystem services

Indications for irreversible change & tipping points

Drivers of change

Download Study Site description

Study Site 1: Caramulo Mountains, Portugal

400

1500

300

< 100

Managed forests (90%)

Wood and biomass production, water resources, flooding control

Shallow soils, extensive stone lags, slow and contracted vegetation recovery after fire

Wildfire frequency and severity,

post-fire land management

 

Study Site 2: Albatera Range, Alicante, Spain

300

286

150-500

150

Semiarid Mediterranean Shrublands

Recreational use, marginal grazing, wildlife habitat

Loss of ecosystem functions, very low plant cover, altered landscape patterns, flooding

Synergetic effect of past exploitation and management with harsh environmental conditions, infrastructure

 

Study Site 3: Mariola Range, Spain

1000

350-700

600-900

100

Shrubland, pine woodland, abandoned cropland

Regulating water and erosion, cultural (tourism), forest products (timber & non-timber), habitat

Changed composition vegetation, decreased ecosystem resilience

Increased fire incidence

 

Study Site 4: Castelsaraceno, Italy

74,3

400-600

700-1900

25

Rangeland (>  40%)

Rangelands support a large livestock industry (sheep and goats mainly), accommodate important watershed functions and provide valuable and biologically diverse resources

Desiccation of pastures due to changing climate and the substitution of pasture with shrubs and woods.

Population decrease, land abandonment, poor infrastructure and social services, failure in reaching niche markets, increasing employment outside pastoral sector, shepherd lifestyle not attractive

 

Study Site 5: Messara Valley, Crete, Greece

611

400- 1100

50-2450

65

Cultivation (40%), livestock

Water resources, Agriculture, grazing, tourism

Drop groundwater level, drying up of springs and wetlands with associated species loss, pollution with garbage, seawater intrusion

Growth agriculture, uncontrolled groundwater exploitation, oversized dams, overgrazing, waste dumping

 

Study Site 6: Pegia Aquifier, Paphos, Cyprus

30

425

5-15

200

Irrigated agriculture

Agricultural production, tourism

Decreased number of species

Development, economy