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Title: The role of agriculture in the Maltese Islands
Authors: Attard, George
Keywords: Agriculture -- Malta
Agriculture -- Economic aspects -- Malta
Soils and climate -- Malta
Deforestation -- Malta
Water-supply -- Malta
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: CIHEAM
Citation: Attard, G. (2009). The role of agriculture in the Maltese Islands. The CIHEAM Watch Letter, 11, 7-9.
Abstract: It is thought that prior to human settling and intervention, the Maltese Islands had vast areas covered with Mediterranean Sclerophyll Forest with an undergrowth of smaller trees, shrubs and climbers. In sheltered areas such as on hillsides and in valleys, the olive (Olea europea), the carob (Ceratonia siliqua), the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) and several others dominated. The tenth-century Arab chronicler Ibn Hauqal wrote that Malta was inhabited only by savage donkeys, numerous sheep, and bees. Human settlement resulted in the falling of trees for their wood and the clearing of land for agriculture and habitation and in the management of best practice as permitted by the availability ob natural resources. Although today agriculture is the largest land user (47.8%) it is under constant treat of land sealing and urbanization, rural to urban migration and loss of local agricultural genetic resources. Having achieved an artificial area occupying 28.6% of the total land mass, the influence of human activity is strongly evident and further underlying the significance of the island’s agricultural areas as a green lung.
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