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Chapter 24: The Terraced Landscapes of the Maltese Islands

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Chapter Summary

Terracing is a prominent landscape feature, and remains one of the least understood phenomena of Mediterranean landscapes. Intensively terraced areas may be encountered in several Mediterranean countries but, surprisingly, in others they are absent, despite topographic and geomorphological conditions which seem highly suited to terracing. Terrace construction methods and the related art of building retaining drystone walls also vary between regions. This rich variety of human responses to demanding environments and the scattered distribution pose intriguing questions for landscape research. The origins of Maltese terraces are lost in time but, they probably owe their existence to the severely limited availability of land and the paucity of natural resources on the islands. Terracing is particularly suitable for cultivation on Mediterranean slopes with difficult soil conditions, and its benefits are discussed in this chapter.

Keywords: Maltese islands; Mediterranean countries; natural resources; Terrace construction methods; terraced landscapes



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