Transversal Projects
Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture

The Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture (MCNC) is a partnership of six organisations.

Associacion Trashumancia y Naturaleza - Spain
DiversEarth - Switzerland 
Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA) - Greece
Society for Protection of Nature in the Lebanon (SPNL) - Lebanon
WWF North Africa - Tunisia 
Yolda Initiative - Turkey

Established in 2012, the overall aim of the MCNC is to provide support and recognition to important cultural practices all over the Mediterranean Basin that contribute directly or indirectly to the protection of nature and the sustainable use of natural resources. As an entity, the MCNC has implemented its projects in two phases, during which it has set the foundations for its operation as a long standing, collaborative entity.

Understanding and supporting cultural conservation practices in the Mediterranean: Phase I (2013 -2015)

The MCNC’s first phase, funded by the MAVA Foundation for Nature, focused on transhumance in the Mediterranean. The partners undertook research on nomadic and transhumant pastoralists in Greece, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey and collaborated with professional photographers to create the photographic exhibition “On the Move”

“On the Move”, with the participation of six professional photographers, Assad Saleh from Lebanon, , Baris Korca from Turkey, Gemma Arrugaeta from Spain, Stamos Abatis from Greece, Wassim Ghozlani from Tunisia and Yunes Tazi from Morocco, is a photographic journey through the lives and challenges faced by transhumant shepherds in the Mediterranean. The exhibition has made nine stops; in Geneva, Paris, Tunis, Byblos in Lebanon, Madrid and Extremadura in Spain, Athens and Metsovo in Greece, Ankara, Hawai’i in the IUCN World Conservation Congress and Marrakesh for the UNFCCC COP22. 

The seasonal movement of livestock in search of better climatic conditions, forage and water resources from the lowlands to the uplands during spring and the reverse in autumn is a known cultural practice with important societal, cultural and environmental dimensions. Research has confirmed the importance of transhumance in nature conservation with its direct impact on biodiversity and natural resource management as well as its benefits on the protection of cultural heritage through the transfer of traditional knowledge and know how. The case of ethnotic / cultural groups that practice it, like the Vlachs and Sarakatsans in Greece prove exactly that. However, one of the most important aspects in a time of financial crisis and socio-political turbulence is that transhumance can concretely contribute to the sustainable development of communities living in mountainous and semi mountainous areas and to the preservation of the ecological fabric while improving the lives of people across the Mediterranean through the high quality products produced by this practice.

In the framework of the MCNC's first phase, MedINA worked in Northwestern Greece, in the heart of the Northern Pindos National Park with the community of Vlach transhumant shepherds of the villages of Perivoli and Avdella in the regional unit of Grevena. In collaboration with Pindos Perivallontiki a report was produced on transhumance in the area including the mapping of two transhumant routes used by local shepherds. In addition, two “On the Move” exhibitions in the Averoff Museum in Metsovo and in the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens were organised and a short video was produced. These outputs were made possible through our collaboration with the transhumant shepherd community of Perivoli and Avdella and the Management Body of the Vikos -Aoos and Pindos National Parks

Understanding and supporting cultural conservation practices in the Mediterranean: Phase II (2015 -2017)

MCNC’s second phase, also funded by the MAVA Foundation, is currently in its second year of implementation. In this second phase the partners are continuing the work they have started on transhumance in the Mediterranean focusing on further documenting and promoting the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of transhumant shepherds, on demonstrating the way in which transhumance and mobile pastoralism can contribute to wider efforts to respond to climate change and finally, on producing an advocacy strategy to be used at national and EU level in order to promote favourable policies towards transhumant shepherds. At the same time, three partners, MedINA, WWF North Africa and SPNL, have expanded their focus to traditional fishermen in Mediterranean lagoons, with activities that aim to support and raise awareness on traditional fishing practices and practitioners.

In the framework of the MCNC's second phase, MedINA is working in the Messolonghi - Etoliko lagoons in Western Greece, one of the largest lagoon systems in the northern Mediterranean coast. At the centre of the lagoon’s landscape are its fishermen whose lifeways create and maintain a unique, yet dynamic landscape which embodies both local traditions and the story of adaptation through time. The fishermen, organised in fishing cooperatives, still use traditional fishing techniques –called ivari or divari– creating natural fish farms within the lagoon with the use of fish traps. The Messolonghi bottarga (avgotaracho), produced in a small scale by these traditional fisheries, is one of Greece’s most emblematic delicacies.

To raise awareness to a diverse national and international audience and to provide a record of traditional fishing practices, MedINA is in the process of creating an online photographic exhibition and an ethnographic film produced under the aegis of the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival. Visual storytelling is the objective of both these activities that aim to enlighten, with a different approach and using different media, the story of the lagoon and its fishermen. In addition, a feasibility study that aims to define the scope, requirements, technical specifications, partnership structure and overall sustainability of a Multi-functional Fishing Hub is underway. Finally, in collaboration with the Management Body of the Messolonghi Lagoon, environmental education activities have taken place in local schools in an attempt to raise the awareness of younger generations on the values of wetlands.