The Terra Lemnia project is MedINA’s newly launched project on the island of Lemnos, funded under the MAVA Mediterranean Strategy Outcome M6 ‘Loss of biodiversity by abandonment of cultural practices’ as an example of an insular landscape. As part of the project, a team of selected national and international scientists, forming the Biodiversity Core Group (BCG), has been tasked with biodiversity monitoring. The group’s first meeting was held on the island of Lemnos from the 19th to 21st January 2018.
The traditional, extensive agro-pastoral practices in Lemnos, which have shaped its landscape all the way from the Neolithic period until the present day, are mainly characterised by and organised around the element of ‘mandra’. A traditional farming structure of Lemnos, the mandra is a multifunctional area fenced with a dry-stone wall. The dense presence of ‘mandres’ in Lemnos -almost 2000 can be found today, many of them abandoned but some are still in use- has created a continuous system, allowing humans to establish their presence in the fields and pastures across the whole island. In terms of agro-pastoral practices, the main characteristic of this mandra system is the close integration of arable crop farming and livestock breeding, both practiced in an extensive manner. This interrelated agro-pastoral system has created a distinct cultural landscape of significant ecological and cultural value.
The BCG’s main tasks are to carry out baseline recording in selected areas of Lemnos during the first year of the project so as to assess biodiversity status and its links with the traditional agro-pastoral practices, to design the long-term monitoring strategy and to carry out regular monitoring in the following years. The ultimate goal is not only to assess the anticipated outcomes of the project’s activities to local biodiversity, but also to establish a more permanent monitoring system for Lemnos based on selected bio-indicator species.
During the two days of the meeting the participants had the opportunity to share knowledge and exchange ideas, while visiting three of the four pilot areas of the project and an operational mandra, before reaching conclusions on how to organise their tasks and coordinate their actions for the next months. The members of the BCG are Prof. Penelope Bebeli and Prof. Giannis Hadjigeorgiou from the Agricultural University of Athens, a major partner in the project, in charge of a series of research and implementation actions related to traditional agro-pastoral practices, Prof. Dionysis Perdikis, entomologist, also based in the Agricultural University of Athens, Dr. Stefan Meyer and Dr. Erwin Bergmeier, botanists, from the University of Gottingen in Germany, Prof. Maria Panitsa, botanist, from the University of Patras, Nikos Tsiopelas, ornithologist, from the Hellenic Ornithological Society, Patrick Grillas, biologist, from the Tour du Valat Research Institute, Marcos Valderrabano, biologist, of IUCN-Med and Bertrand de Montmollin, botanist, of IUCN / Mediterranean Plant Specialist Group.
The first BCG meeting was successfully completed, managing to bring together a diverse team of experts. This fruitful exchange amongst different scientific disciplines has allowed the project team to better frame the next steps of the project, setting solid foundations for successfully delivering the main upcoming tasks.