The integration of the various components of which the terraces are built (masiere, klancići, etc.) is essential for the preservation of the historical heritage in rural areas, for improvement of habitats and conservation of the individual and collective identity. The cultural landscape must be protected not only for its cultural value but must be actively incorporated into the agricultural production cycle. The quality of tourism and recreation should harmonize with olives and / or other agriculture and grazing, so that economic development goes hand in hand with environmental protection.
The difficulties that must be overcome in order to protect and improve the human environment are strongly linked to the very nature of this conservation project. The restoration of the area aims to produce economic benefits, but they can be difficult to achieve due to lack of manpower, the limited mechanization of operations, the small plots and land fragmentation. The difficulties can be overcome with a production focused on quality local products, which partially takes place today.
Cres already has an agricultural capital – mainly olive oil, with a varying annual production of olives. In 2012 it amounted to about 600 tons and 150 individuals employed in the industry. The priority task is thus to protect olive growing, since it is crucial and a reference point for all characteristic feature of the landscape composed of terraces, access roads to the olive groves and tourist itineraries.
The aspired purposes can be obtained by:
Expansion of already working agencies, to achieve greater participation and disseminate knowledge about the sector’s benefits and product quality.
The formation of pilot areas in different sites of the largest olive groves that surround the city center. In these areas experiment can be done with new agricultural operations valuable to the environment in Cres.
A higher level of activity and stabilization of the area, better than the current one, can be achieved in tourism, culture and rural environment, if measures are taken to increase the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical skills.
First of all, the terraces have to be introduced in the lists of already protected components of the historical heritage.
It is desirable to establish a local center whose main task is to protect soil resources in general and terraces in particular.
It is essential to conduct thorough historical and geographical studies and also pedological surveys (which analyze the quality of the soil), and find out how the olive grove and other tree culture can be combined.
It is desirable to set up training courses that explain the complexity of stone structures (walls, terraces, roads, etc.) in order to regain the knowledge that has been lost and, if possible, achieve new knowledge.
Providing financial aid to farmers from revenues of tourism would be a prudent strategy for the maintenance of the terraced areas. Competition could be organized awarded with a prize for best work, repair or construction of terraces.
Tourist routes should be multiplied and clearly marked with indications, and if necessary the existing infrastructure should be developed. Hikes and excursions can be organized in terraced areas to raise awareness and provide detailed knowledge of the landscape. If possible, cultural events can be performed in particularly appealing terraced areas. Events can be combined with tasting of local products and the diffusion of publications on history, botany, local cuisine, etc.
It is important to start with the restauration abandoned but previously cultivated areas, by cutting wild shrubs and trees and repair the paths and adjacent walls.
The basic condition to implement this variety of measures, is that public and private bodies at various institutional levels, will be integrated in a common effort to realize the project. In the first place the initiator should be the town Cres (Grad Cres), the coastal and mountain region (Primorsko – Goranska Županija), and later, when the first results are achieved, the Republic of Croatia.
In order to benefit from European funds, it is necessary to begin the restoration work, albeit partially, to demonstrate that the project can be realized. At European level, significant activities are implemented with multiple applications (Patter, Terrics, Alpter) for the conservation of the environment and these works also integrate partly artificial habitats, i.e. those that require a large amount of labor.
The long-term goal is to obtain recognition of the landscape of Cres as “outstanding example of human interaction with the environment,” and then to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a first step of this process Cres must be included in the provisional Croatian list (“tentative list”), which is an inventory of valuable sites that each state uses to propose to UNESCO.
Finally, a reflection: If nothing or little of what we are proposing will be done, what could Cres then have to offer of its own, unique and interesting values that remain etched in the memory of those who visit the island? A narrow strip of beach and a myriad of houses and villas from Melin to Grabar? What extraordinary perception may an individual perceive of a landscape that surrounds the city and consists of 50-60% forest? A non-cultivated land area in Cres will over a period of 10-15 years be overrun by feral trees and shrubs (maquis), and in 20-25 years with pine trees. It takes 25 years for an olive grove to be taken over by holm oak (Quercus ilex) and hornbeam (Ostria carpinofolia).
At this hopefully never occurring stage, Cres would have completely lost its identity. The island would look like any area near the sea in the temperate climate zone. The destruction and negligence of the landscape would completely change its aesthetics and impact on both the residents’ quality of life and the quality of tourism. The distinctive, unique, exceptional and “natural environment”, the fruit of Cres resident’s culture and hard-working over the past centuries, would be lost.