Land Consolidation as a key infrastructure project contributes to the amelioration of the various problems that are associated with agricultural holdings. These problems constitute an impediment to the rational and efficient development of agriculture both in Cyprus and in other countries of the European Union, but also all over the world.
In Cyprus, the implementation of land consolidation measures began in 1970, after enacting the Consolidation and Reallocation of Agricultural Land Law 24 (1969). Under the provisions of this Law, the various land tenure problems such as, the small size of agricultural holdings, the fragmented and dispersed land plots, the lack of access, the mixed land tenures (i.e. land held in undivided from and dual or multiple ownerships) and the irregular shape of land plots, are solved through the implementation of land consolidation measures, thus setting the right infrastructure for the rational development of agriculture.
At the same time, land consolidation constitutes a multilateral instrument that can be used for the promotion of rational, sustainable agricultural development and the creation and protection of areas of natural beauty and of cultural significance.
The basic objectives of land consolidation measures are the creation of economically viable holdings and the improvement of the defective land tenure structure.
For the accomplishment of these objectives, the Department proceeds mainly with the grouping of fragmented and scattered land ownerships into compact holdings, the construction of a new rural road network serving all new plots, the enlargement of small holdings by purchasing private, church and state land and distributing it, according to specific criteria to farmers, the creation of regularly-shaped plots of land, the elimination of dual and multiple ownerships and of ownerships held in undivided shares.
The Environmental Aspect of Land Consolidation
Land consolidation and reallocation measures applied to agricultural holdings, apart from improving the conditions of agricultural utilization, contribute to the protection of the environment, natural and structured, to the upgrade of the environment, to the safeguarding of the wild flora and fauna, to the protection of biotopes and to the protection of the cultural and physical features of the rural landscape.
The Consolidation and Reallocation of Agricultural Land Laws of the period 1969-2012, provide as from 1969 (when the Law was drafted) for the preparation, publication and implementation of landscape renovation and protection of the environment plans, within land consolidation areas.
Within land consolidation areas, particular attention is paid to the safeguarding of the endemic plants as well as the habitats of wild animals, to the protection of wild fauna habitat and the protection of areas of natural beauty and of ecologically significant areas. In every land consolidation area, perennial trees or significant rows of trees are protected through the transfer of their ownership rights to the State which undertakes also their cultivation needs. In addition, cultural/historical heritage areas (bridges, watermills, traditional fountains, stone-wells, threshing floors) are identified and protected, within land consolidation areas. In many land consolidation areas, churches or residues of Christian Temples, some of them dating from Byzantine period, have been spotted out and restored by the Land Consolidation Department, in collaboration with local Church Authorities and the Antiquities Department. Moreover, the surrounding area of these monuments has been put into shape.
Landscape Renovation Plans/Works
In many land consolidation areas, through landscape renovation and the protection of the environment plans, several parks and green spaces have been created. Trees and bushes have been planted, improved irrigation systems have been installed and stone-paths have been constructed, while benches, children’s games and stone-built fountains have been installed.
In all land consolidation areas, the trees/bushes that are planted are endemic to the area, while factors such of the prevailing altitude and the water requirements of plants are taken into account. Preference is given to rain-fed plants.
Environmental Impact Assessment Studies
As from 2005 and according to the provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment of Certain Plans and/or Programs Law of 102 (I) 2005, the Land Consolidation Department prepares Environmental Impact Assessment Studies for every new land consolidation scheme. The aim of the Environmental Impact Assessment Study is to identify and assess the impact (negative or positive) that a land consolidation scheme can have on the environment, the landscape, the quality of life and of public health and in addition propose any alternative measures, where negative consequences for the environment are identified.
If the project is environmentally viable, then all the measures that should be taken for the protection of the environment are noted.
Moreover, at the stage of studying and drawing up the plan of new roads, water-courses, channels and other works, a Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment Study is carried out by the Land Consolidation Department, according to the provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment of Certain Works Law (140 (I) /2005).
These studies aim to identify any environmental consequences from the construction of the rural road network and propose measures to be taken so as to ameliorate the consequences. Through the implementation of these studies, various important features of the natural and anthropogenic environment are identified and measures for their protection, in collaboration with other Government Departments and Services are recorded.
In cases where the rural road network traverses areas of special environmental significance, an Appropriated Assessment of the implications the road network is likely to have, is carried out.
Land Consolidation and Rural Development
Land consolidation and reallocation measures applied to agricultural lands improve the conditions of agricultural utilization as the following are achieved:
- Provision of access to all the new consolidated plots
- Increase in the number of economically viable holdings
- Increase in the average size of agricultural land ownership
- Agricultural utilization of distant, inaccessible and small holdings or plots
- Availability of more agricultural land as plot boundaries are reduced
- Better organization of agricultural units
- Restructuring of cultivations
- Mechanization of farm work
All the above lead to:
- increased agricultural activity,
- more efficiency,
- increases in capital and labour productivity,
- more economically viable holdings,
- higher agricultural income.
No doubt, all these create the necessary prerequisites for the strengthening and further expansion of the agricultural sector of our country, which faces recession problems due to globalization phenomena. The rise in agricultural activities and the creation of the right preconditions and infrastructure achieved through the application of land consolidation schemes, can lead to a competitive agricultural sector. In consequence, land consolidation measures constitute an incentive for young farmers to resume farming activities with an impact leading thus to reduced in unemployment rates and the mitigation of urbanization.
Land Consolidation – Prospects
Land consolidation and reallocation measures applied to agricultural land ownership improve the conditions of agricultural utilization and set the basis for the rational development of agriculture. This is verified by the overall results obtained from the implementation of 78 land consolidation schemes, of a total area of about 18.444 hectares, from 1.970 onwards, when the first scheme started in Cyprus, up till now.
Land consolidation and reallocation measures contribute to the upgrade of the environment as landscape renovation and protection of the environment plans are prepared and implemented in every land consolidation area. Moreover through land consolidation implementation the rational exploitation of natural resources is safeguarded, while sustainable rural development is maintained. Thus, the implementation of land consolidation schemes should be further promoted for the further development of the agricultural sector and the countryside in general.
Moreover, the land consolidation scheme can be applied in many other domains apart from the agricultural sector, offering solutions to various land tenure problems and creating the prerequisites for the development and accomplishment of the, at each time set, economic, social and environmental targets. To this respect, land consolidation and reallocation measures can be implemented in other development zones/areas, which face similar land tenure problems to agricultural areas. In Cyprus, the Implementation of Consolidation, Management and Reallocation of Immovable Property in Development Zones/Areas of a non-agricultural nature, which similarly to agricultural areas face land tenure problems and cannot be rationally developed and managed, is promoted. A Draft Legislation concerning this issue has been approved by the Council of Ministers and has been sent to the Cyprus House of Representatives to be enacted into a Law. In addition, in areas where big projects such as highways, dams and airports are to be constructed, in designated environmentally protected areas, in areas where private ownerships are enclaved in state or forest land or in industrial zones that lack adequate infrastructure, land consolidation and reallocation measures can be implemented successfully. The experience from other European countries has proved that such applications are a must and yield remarkable results.
For further information:
Land Consolidation Department website: www.moa.gov.cy/lcd
Tel.: 22 407903, 22 407922