The CASCADE European Project strives to investigate such approaches and to fill knowledge gaps through a series of multi-scale experiments and integrated soil-water-plant modeling. At plant level, experiments include the simulation of drought, or prolonged dry summers, through rainfall exclusion experiments. Prototype roofs were constructed using polycarbonate sheets fitted in hydro-jet cut sea plywood designed by Manolis Grillakis. The design ensures a sturdy but light structure that can sustain strong winds.
Messara Valley is one of the 6 Study Sites of the CASCADE Project that addresses catastrophic shifts relevant to soil and vegetation in the Mediterranean dryland ecosystems. The main objective of the Project is understand the causes and characteristics of these shifts and to provide new recommendations for sustainable land management in Mediterranean drylands, under which the chances of catastrophic shifts are reduced.
Many solutions are bound to come through a combination of innovative technologies and traditional practices. For example, flora biodiversity can be fully restored with the application of rational grazing, fertilization or exclusion of degraded areas, and sustainable irrigation and land management practices can be applied to promote water conservation. The results of the Project will provide insight to the causes and characteristics of tipping points in the Mediterranean drylands, thus leading to meaningful natural resource management recommendations for preventive and restorative best practices.