The Cyprus Institute: Cyprus Participates in a New Major Project to Combat Desertification in Rural Areas of Southern Europe and Northern Africa

A new European project, TERRASAFE, brings together eleven European and one North African country to tackle the increasing threat of desertification in rural areas of Cyprus, Italy, Romania, Spain and Tunisia. Desertification is the process by which productive land and soils lose their capacity to sustain crop production or natural vegetation as a result of unsustainable land management practises and climate change.

TERRASAFE is an ambitious five-year project that will work in five rural pilot areas to combat five main desertification threats: decreasing soil organic carbon in Cyprus, soil salinisation in Tunisia, population decline and land abandonment in Italy, water scarcity in Spain, and vegetation decline in forested areas in Romania.

In Cyprus, The Cyprus Institute (CyI), the NGO AKTI Project and Research Center and Isotech Ltd Environmental Research Consultancy will cooperate to test solutions for building resilience in rural areas affected by desertification. These three organisations will cooperate with communities and farmers of the Morphou Community Complex, with participation from agricultural and environmental organisations and authorities.

Five innovative technologies and management practises for retaining moisture in the soil and for increasing soil organic carbon, nutrients and trace elements will be tested and demonstrated. These solutions aim to strengthen the communities’ ability to combat desertification in a way that is both economically and environmentally effective.

CyI Associate Professor Adriana Bruggeman that increasing the organic matter in the soil improves the land’s capacity to retain water and nutrients and supports agriculture and nature. Storing organic carbon in soils will also reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and mitigate climate change.

Dr. Michalis Loizidis, Chemical and Environmental Engineer and Director of Isotech Ltd, said that the collaboration of academics with field scientists and innovative companies, as well as the collaboration with local communities, will contribute significantly to the practical implementation of solutions adapted to the specific needs and challenges of each region. These efforts will include nature-based solutions for increasing organic matter in the soil and technological innovations to promote precision agriculture.

TERRASAFE is coordinated by Dr Jacob Keizer of the University of Aveiro in Portugal. The project is co-financed by the European Union under the Horizon Europe Framework Programme.

Source: The Cyprus Institute | News (