Grazing land afforestation with Ceratonia siliqua (carob trees) in the Mediterranean
Greece - Φύτευση βοσκότοπου με Ceratonia siliqua (χαρουπιές) στη Μεσόγειο (EL)
left: Mature plantation of Ceratonia siliqua (Photo: I. Daliakopoulos)
right: Pruned stand of Ceratonia siliqua (Photo: I. Daliakopoulos)

Graze land forestation with Ceratonia siliqua (carob trees)

A stand of Ceratonia siliqua (carob trees) is established within an area used for grazing. Tree density is average (6 m grid configuration) and the majority of maintenance input is limited to the first 3 years. Once established, grazing can continue with few limitations. Ceratonia siliqua (carob tree) is very characteristic of the Mediterranean region, thus blending in very well with the local landscape, especially in the rugged agro-pastoral areas of the Mediterranean islands. After the successful establishment of the plantation, intense irrigation is no longer required and livestock can be allowed in the afforested area which has been upgraded to an improved agro-pastoral or agroforestry land. This improvement facilitates a healthier ecosystem that mitigates land degradation by stabilizing soil, increasing infiltration and organic matter and promoting flora and fauna. In addition to those traits, Ceratonia siliqua is fire resistant and can promote market diversification for the farmer. The main drawback of this technology is the reduction in livestock and other crop production during the first decade of application until trees are mature.
The purpose of this technology is multifold. The primary goal is to increase ecosystem services provided by the treated area, especially for grazing. The farmer takes advantage of the qualities of carob trees for providing: (a) Fodder to the livestock from the carob pods as well as leaves from cuttings; (b) Shade to the livestock during the summer months; (c) Better soil retention, water infiltration etc. A secondary goal is to increase market diversification with the direct exploitation of carob beans for various products, such as carob honey and carob flour. These products give added value to the land and allow the farmer to increase his income in a more sustainable way. At the same time much is gained from various other ecosystem services relevant to habitat and supporting services for the fauna of the area, such as birds and honey-bees. The aesthetic value of the landscape which strongly linked with Cretan traditions and pastoralism lifestyle is enhanced. The touristic attraction of the area is greatly improved providing new options for recreational activities and exploitation through actions such as agro-tourism.
Initially, few structural measures are required, mostly related to preparing slopes and soil for sapling planting and establishing irrigation infrastructure. A palisade that will effectively prevent livestock from damaging young trees needs to be maintained during the first 10 years of application of the technology. 2-year-old saplings are planted in a grid configuration with spacing of 6 m and actively managed for at least 3 years. Management includes watering, fertilization and replacement of dead or weak saplings.
The average annual precipitation in the area is 690 mm and the climate is classified as subhumid. Average annual temperature is 17.5 oC with 7 months below 18 oC but above 5 oC, thus classifying the area as subtropical. In the location where the technology is applied, land is mostly individually owned and distributed among a few families of a community of about 100 inhabitants. Although the financial means of the land user who applies this technology are more or less on par with those of the rest of the community, he has a wider empirical education and relatively higher social status acquired thought his involvement with the commons.
Location: Heraklion
Region: Melidochorion/Kastriotis
Technology area: 0.05 km2
Conservation measure: vegetative
Stage of intervention: prevention of land degradation
Origin: Developed externally / introduced through project, 10-50 years ago
Land use type:
Mixed: Agro-pastoralism
Mixed: Agro-silvopastoralism
Land use:
Mixed: Agro-pastoralism (before), Mixed: Silvo-pastoralism (after)
Climate: subhumid, subtropics
WOCAT database reference: T_GRE008en
Related approach:
Compiled by: Ioannis Daliakopoulos, Technical University of Crete
Date: 2013-12-06
Contact person: Ioannis Tsanis, Technical University of Crete, Greece,


Land use problems:
- The main problems are reduced land cover that progressively leads to soil erosion, combined with the lack of sufficient water resources in the wider area. (expert's point of view)
- Land users perceive a problem of reduced pasture fodder availability thus residing to more expensive solutions (land user's point of view)

Land useClimateDegradationConservation measure
Land use Land useSubhumid
Mixed: Agro-pastoralism (before)
Mixed: Silvo-pastoralism (after)
extensive grazing land
mixed rainfed - irrigated
Biological degradation: reduction of vegetation cover
Vegetative: Tree and shrub cover
Stage of interventionOriginLevel of technical knowledge
   Mitigation / Reduction
   Land users initiative
   Experiments / Research
   Externally introduced: 10-50 years ago
   Agricultural advisor
   Land user
Main causes of land degradation:
Direct causes - Human induced: overgrazing
Main technical functions:
- improvement of ground cover
Secondary technical functions:
- improvement of topsoil structure (compaction)
- stabilisation of soil (eg by tree roots against land slides)
- increase in organic matter
- promotion of vegetation species and varieties (quality, eg palatable fodder)

Natural Environment
Average annual rainfall (mm)Altitude (m a.s.l.)    LandformSlope (%)
> 4000 mm
3000-4000 mm
2000-3000 mm
1500-2000 mm
1000-1500 mm
750-1000 mm
500-750 mm
250-500 mm
< 250 mm

> 4000   

    plateau / plains
    mountain slopes
    hill slopes
    valley floors

very steep

Soil depth (cm)


Soil fertility: medium
Topsoil organic matter: medium (1-3%)
Soil drainage/infiltration: good
Soil water storage capacity: medium
Ground water table: > 50 m
Availability of surface water: medium
Water quality: good drinking water
Biodiversity: high
Sensitive to climatic extremes: seasonal rainfall decrease, droughts / dry spells for the first 3 years

Human Environment
Mixed per household (ha)

Land user: Individual / household, medium scale land users, Leaders / privileged, mainly men
Population density: < 10 persons/km2
Annual population growth: negative
Land ownership: individual, titled
Land use rights: individual
Water use rights: communal (organised)
Relative level of wealth: average

Importance of off-farm income: > 50% of all income:
Access to service and infrastructure: low: employment (eg off-farm), roads & transport, financial services; moderate: health, technical assistance, market, energy, drinking water and sanitation; high: education
Market orientation:

blob_id=3836Technical drawing

A stand of Ceratonia siliqua (carob trees) is established within an area used for grazing. For at least 10 years the area is fenced adequately to exclude livestock; once trees are mature sheep can return to graze. If a tree needs to be replaced after establishment, it can be individually fenced. (I. Daliakopoulos)

Implementation activities, inputs and costs
Establishment activitiesEstablishment inputs and costs per ha
- Planting saplings
- Grafting
- Slope/soil preparation
- Chain-link fencing
- Irrigation piping
InputsCosts (US$)% met by land user
Labour 3760.00 0%
  - machine use 3020.00 0%
Construction material  
  - Chain-link fence 1900.00 0%
  - Pipes 270.00 0%
  - seedlings 820.00 0%
TOTAL 9770.00 0.00%

Maintenance/recurrent activitiesMaintenance/recurrent inputs and costs per ha per year
- Fertilization
- Replacing dead or weak trees
- Pruning
- Watering
InputsCosts (US$)% met by land user
Labour 350.00 0%
  - seedlings 280.00 0%
  - fertilizer 160.00 0%
  - water 6.00 0%
TOTAL 796.00 0.00%


Impacts of the Technology
Production and socio-economic benefitsProduction and socio-economic disadvantages
   increased fodder production
   increased fodder quality
   diversification of income sources
   reduced expenses on agricultural inputs
   increased product diversification
   increased wood production
   increased farm income
   reduced animal production
   increased risk of crop failure
   increased expenses on agricultural inputs
   decreased farm income
Socio-cultural benefitsSocio-cultural disadvantages
   increased recreational opportunities
   improved cultural opportunities
   improved conservation / erosion knowledge
Ecological benefitsEcological disadvantages
   reduced fire risk
   increased plant diversity
   increased beneficial species
   increased / maintained habitat diversity
   improved soil cover
   increased nutrient cycling recharge
   reduced soil loss
   increased animal diversity
   increased biological pest / disease control
   increased soil moisture
   reduced surface runoff
   increased biomass above ground C
Off-site benefitsOff-site disadvantages
Contribution to human well-being / livelihoods

Benefits /costs according to land user
Benefits compared with costsshort-term:long-term:
Maintenance / recurrentslightly negativepositive

Acceptance / adoption:

There is no trend towards (growing) spontaneous adoption of the technology.

Concluding statements

Strengths and how to sustain/improveWeaknesses and how to overcome
Restoration and protection of pastureland from further degradation. Maintain the vegetation cover and infrastructure as much as possible, retain a sustainable livestock density.
Provision of additional market opportunities to the land user. Provide incentives for exporting, education on small business logistics, online marketing, etc.
Increased income through the provision of free fodder for the livestock. Maintain the vegetation cover and infrastructure as much as possible.
Restoration and protection of pastureland from further degradation. Maintain the vegetation cover and infrastructure as much as possible.
Provision of additional market opportunities to the land user. Succeed in marketing alternative products. Secure a sustainable income from the alternative production sources.
Decreased income though the reduction of livestock density (exclusion) for at least 10 years. Receive financial assistance (subsidies) per excluded animal.
Cannot implement in higher altitude pastureland due to the nature of the carob tree. Perform afforestation with Mulberries (Morus nigra)
Decreased income though the reduction of livestock density (exclusion) for at least 10 years. Receive financial assistance (subsidies) per excluded animal. Voluntary contribution of local farmers to benefit from economies of scale (for unions).
Decrease of vegetation under the tree canopy. Reduce carob tree density.

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