The Traditional Mediterranean Polycultural Landscape as Cultural Heritage: Its Origin and Historical Importance, Its Agro-Silvo-Pastoral Complexity and the Necessity for Its Identification and Inventory

  • Giuseppe BarberaEmail author
  • Sebastiano Cullotta
Part of the Environmental History book series (ENVHIS, volume 5)


Today, the Mediterranean is characterized by landscape patterns whose compositions result from countless, long and complex cultural and historical processes. However, the pressure on these landscapes and their rapid transformation into more modern forms call out for a better knowledge of the more complex forms of traditional land use and relative landscapes. In this context, an identification and clarification of the role of such mixed and complex forms of agro-forestry systems and landscapes, named “giardino Mediterraneo” (“Mediterranean garden”) is necessary. This term is often applied to and associated with numerous different agricultural and agro-forestry systems as well as to numerous different kinds of rural landscapes, due to the complex and intricate historical process that has led to their identification and cultural evolution over time. This study identifies the characteristics of the polycultural and polyspecific Mediterranean garden’s landscape, characterized by the presence of trees (both wild and cultivated), starting from a historical overview of Sicily. The analysed Halaesa landscape (Sicily) case study, as one of the first historical detailed description of a complex Mediterranean cultural landscape, is the result of a polycultural agro-silvo-pastoral system which guarantees complexity and richness (in terms of structural and biological diversity), as well as with reference to others environmental, cultural and economic multifunctionality. However, a comparison with the typological systems currently used for the cataloguing and mapping of traditional Mediterranean landscapes at different scales shows the transversal importance of polycultural Mediterranean garden landscapes, and demonstrates how much a better definition and characterization of them is needed.


Biocultural diversity Rural landscape Landscape history Landscape type Landscape pattern Landscape character Mediterranean garden Coltura promiscua Material and non-material heritage Multifunctionality Mediterranean basin 



The research was supported by the Italian Ministry of Research and University Education’s PRIN 2010–2011 Project (University Programs of Scientific Relevance)—Project title ‘I paesaggi tradizionali dellagricoltura italiana: definizione di un modello interpretativo multidisciplinare e multiscala finalizzato alla pianificazione e alla gestione’ (‘Traditional agricultural landscapes in Italy: a multidisciplinary and multi-scale assessment for the development of an integrated model for landscape planning and management’) (prot. 2010LE4NBM).


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento Scienze Agrarie e ForestaliUniversità di PalermoPalermoItaly

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