New LIFE+ research project: “Regenerative Approaches for Building Climate Change Resilience into EU Agricultural Regions Prone to Desertification”

The primary objective of the new LIFE+ research project AgrOassis (full title: “Regenerative Approaches for Building Climate Change Resilience into EU Agricultural Regions Prone to Desertification”) is to assist climatic change adaptation in the agricultural sector of the EU’s two most south-easterly countries, Cyprus and Greece, and beyond. For reaching the objectives of the EU legislation and policy on climate action, the project, which is led by the Cypriot Ministry of Agricultural, Rural Development and Environment, will develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques, methods and approaches, best practices as well as close to market solutions on areas which are currently exposed to desertification because of climate, inappropriate land uses and wildfires, and which are expected to become even more vulnerable under climatic change. The Open University of Cyprus is a member of the project’s consortium with a research team of the Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Lab led by Professor Ioannis Vogiatzakis. The project has secured around 1.4 mln Euro funding by the EU’s LIFE+ Programme and has a duration of 4 years and 3 months starting on October 1st, 2022.

The project will also markedly contribute towards climate change mitigation, promoting carbon farming and biodiversity restoration. AgrOassis will also seek to regenerate ecosystem services within degraded agroecosystems, as well as will attempt to identify and remove obstacles related to inappropriate governance and policies, that obstruct the implementation of the EU’s Green Deal Agenda and the aim to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Preparatory work for AgrOassis has identified Cyprus as a hotspot of unsustainable soil management practices connected to widely applied tillage. This appears as an indirect side-effect of governmental policies aiming to enforce CAP EU legislation as well as a direct result of inappropriate counselling towards farmers and inadequate training on how to combat desertification. AgrOassis also attempts to mobilize the private sector by utilizing available unexploited resources to promote the circular economy in the agro-sector of Cyprus, and will seek to promote private investment towards close-to-market solutions on green waste sustainability and sustainable soil management in line with the EU’s “Farm to Fork Strategy”.

Project consortium: CYPRUS | Ministry of Agricultural, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus, Open University of Cyprus, KES Research Centre Ltd, LAONA Foundation for the Conservation and Regeneration of the Cypriot Country, Union of Cypriot Farmers, Paradisiotis Ltd | GREECE | University of Thessaly, Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Municipal Organisation of Social and Cultural Development of Sitia (DOKAS), and TOEB Tavropos.