What’s the project
Lemnos was selected because the high ecological value landscapes of the island, which have been shaped through millennia of continuous human habitation and agro-pastoral activity but are nowadays threatened by their gradual replacement by intensive activities. The traditional, extensive agro-pastoral practices in Lemnos, inextricably linked to its natural ecosystems, 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, inside which there is an animal shed, a farmer’s / shepherd’s hut (called ‘kehayias’ by the locals) and a barn, whereas a stone threshing floor, small creamery or bread oven and a small vegetable garden can occasionally be found. On the periphery of the ‘mandra’ extend the pastures and/or arable land with cereal crops destined for fodder and leguminous crops for human consumption. When practiced sustainably, like in the past, this mixed system can both satisfy human needs and support biodiversity
The Terra Lemnia project aims to build a common vision for sustainable development of Lemnos based on the restoration of the traditional agro-pastoral mandra system, attempting to support the extensive practices, which favour local biodiversity and re-establish the broken links between arable farming, stockbreeding and apiculture. The key to build such a vision is to actively engage practitioners, the local community and stakeholders and raise awareness at all levels, showcasing that the agro-pastoral practices of the traditional mandra system not only have positive effects on the environment and natural resources, but they can also trigger opportunities for local economic development.
MedINA has designed a set of six strategies and related activities so as to achieve this ambitious goal which will be implemented by a wide local, national and Mediterranean partnership. A major partner in this project is the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA) a leading institution in agronomic research that will implement these aspects of the project while other partners are the University of Aegean, Anemoessa, a local NGO, the Society for the Protection of Prespa, the Hellenic Ornithological Society and the Tour du Valat. The project is supported the Region of North Aegean.
The first step of the project is setting the baseline by building the knowledge base for the agro-pastoral practices of the traditional mandra system and documenting their impacts on biodiversity and local welfare. Regarding biodiversity monitoring, a Biodiversity Core Group established comprising of national and international experts with previous experience in Lemnos and other Aegean islands.
Focusing on the practitioner community, targeted capacity building and knowhow exchange activities will be carried out and an informal network of ‘land stewards’ will be created.
On-the-ground actions are planned to be implemented in collaboration with interested practitioners, such as in situ conservation and/or reintroduction of crop landraces, rehabilitation of selected rangelands by introducing perennial sown pastures to support sustainable grazing, and others. In addition, measures to mitigate direct threats for biodiversity and land degradation such as rabbit overpopulation will be taken. Finally, actions to improve the economic viability of the practices will be undertaken, such as actions to increase the market value of local products, including the certification of selected high quality products, and the creation of cross-sectoral synergies.
The Terra Lemnia project is innovative in nature and will allow partners to test new approaches and to involve the local community and young people in innovative activities that can support biodiversity, sustainable development and local livelihoods.