Season’s Greetings and a short review of MedINA’s activities in 2020

Season’s Greetings and a short review of MedINA’s activities in 2020

Dear partners and friends,

2020 will undoubtedly be a year that will remain in all our memories. It’s been a year that has fundamentally challenged our established certainties on safety, closeness and necessities in all life areas. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic brought profound changes to the ways we work, communicate and socialize, making us realize how essential our human need for interpersonal contact and sharing is. It also made us re-evaluate our relationship with the natural world, which will hopefully become the trigger that will push us to take decisive, remedial action and allow us to build a greener and fairer future for all.

This holiday season, all of us in MedINA would like to share with you our wishes for a new year that brings us closer and fills us with determination to work together for better days ahead. We would also like to take the opportunity to celebrate our achievements despite the obstacles and wish courage and endurance to all of you!

Read below to find out our main activities and achievements in the past year.

Terra Lemnia project

2020 was the final year of implementation of the project’s first phase and despite the setbacks cause by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Terra Lemnia team worked tirelessly on many fronts.

Significant progress has been achieved regarding conservation and recognition of crop landraces. In parallel with the in situ conservation and monitoring of cultivation practices for several local seed varieties in collaboration with more than 10 local farmers, in August 2020 local partner Anemoessa and the Agricultural Cooperative of Atsiki submitted applications for the inscription of local barley ‘Panagias’ (Hordeum vulgare) and two varieties of ‘lafyri’ (Lathyrus sativus) to the National Register of Crop Landraces. In November 2020, ‘aspromytiko’ (Vigna Unguiculata) bean was inscribed in the National Register -the first entry for Lemnos- following long efforts supported by Terra Lemnia partners. During this period, the project team has maintained close cooperation with the National Gene Bank, the Institute of Cultivated Plants and other public bodies involved in the process of landraces inscription in the National Register; two site visits have taken place in summer 2020 in Lemnos, where the officials were able to supervise in-person several crops, as well as to meet with local farmers and advise them regarding landrace cultivation. This year has also seen the successful conclusion of genetic analyses of sheep populations which revealed the existence of a distinct local population in Mt Vigla, opening the way to submit a proposal for inscription of Lemnian sheep in the National List of Autochthonous Breeds in the next months.

At the same time, in 2020, important steps have been made towards the establishment of the Land Stewards’ network –a voluntary network of practitioners implementing sustainable farming practices on Lemnos–, an effort supported by a newly approved project funded by the Green Fund (see below).Twelve Lemnian farmers have signed up to participate in the pilot phase of the network, following from the successful organization of a local workshop in September 26-27. In parallel, the team is pursuing synergies across a wide spectrum of stakeholders, aiming to set the foundations for the development of a local quality agreement in the coming years.

A notable project publication in 2020 was the sociocultural report on the mandra system of Lemnos in Greek and English which was based on rigorous bibliographic research, as well as interviews by selected locals who shared their knowledge, memories and wisdom with us.
At policy level, the project team continued its advocacy efforts at the national and regional level, promoting project outputs to pertinent authorities. As a result, Terra Lemnia has been invited by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food to participate in two working groups tasked with the development of Greece’s national Rural Development Programme for 2021-2027.

Finally, MedINA hosted the Steering Committee Meeting of the MAVA Foundation’s programme on Cultural Landscapes as well as its Mid-Term Evaluation workshop in Lemnos which is one of the programme’s pilot sites. 30 participants from 20 organisations convened to discuss the programme’s progress and to decide on the design of the next phase. A promotional video of the 4-day workshop, with interviews from participants and footage of field visits available via YouTube.

Intangible Cultural Heritage

In 2020 MedINA focused its work on supporting the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports. In the framework of the Terra Lemnia project, a major success was the official inscription of “The art of melipasto/melichloro cheese making” in August 2020. A relevant video with interviews from local producers has been prepared by MedINA and Anemoessa and is available with subtitles in English. In June 2020, MedINA, in collaboration with Anemoessa, also submitted a file for the inscription of the traditional agro-pastoral management mandra system of Lemnos. A video documentary has been prepared to support the documentation process where locals share their experience and knowledge on the traditional practices that consist the mandra systemwhich will be available in January 2021.

Continuing its work on the promotion of the fishing heritage in the Messolonghi-Aitoliko lagoons, MedINA provided technical assistance for the submission of the file on Traditional Fishing of Messolonghi-Aitoliko Lagoon National Park. The file will be submitted for review to the Ministry of Culture and Sports in collaboration with a team of academics, members of local organisations and the Management Body of the Mesolonghi Lagoon and Akarnanian Mountains,

Finally, in 2020, MedINA launched a new project, approved by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, on the intangible heritage of bread and cheese in Modern Greece. With the guidance of a scientific committee comprised of members from the Agricultural University of Athens, the Academy of Athens and the Directorate of Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage, and in collaboration with the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival, the next year will see the development of two short documentaries that will highlight the significant intangible heritage of bread and cheese in Modern Greek culture.

Kythera Trails

In 2020, despite the setbacks presented due to the pandemic, MedINA’s programme on the island of Kythera kept on evolving, expanding and innovating. The project team continued nurturing its close relationships with the local partners, drafting new projects and proposals. MedINA also welcomed the newly-elected municipal council of Kythera with a presentation about the trails programme, which sparked interest among its members. In 2020, not only was the 100 km long trails network maintained in its entirety for the first time, but also the study for the expansion of the network was completed. Supported by one of MedINA’s MAVA funded projects, this study proposes 7 new trails of 68 km in total, each one with a unique identity such as the first long linear trails of the network as well as the first three trails on Antikythera Island. With these, Kythera Trails will become the first single network spanning two islands.

This year, also saw the realization of two major innovation actions both integrated in the trails network; a via ferrata and the restoration of a traditional micro-dams system in Karavas stream in September 2020. The restored micro-dams -bowed stone walls vertical to the streamflow- comprise a demonstrative work, which showcases traditional biodiversity friendly infrastructure as a low-cost, no-regret solution for improved water management. In addition, in 2020 the project team has been working on the LEADER/CLLD project to enhance Kythera trails through the development of a new website, a smartphone app, and an installation at Kythera’s airport.

Finally, as an upscaling action of the Terra Lemnia project, and in collaboration with the Kytherian Foundation for Culture & Development, MedINA launched a new programme for sustainable and biodiversity-friendly olive groves based on a customized precision agriculture monitoring and certification system. The project aims at improving farmers’ livelihoods, by fostering high-quality, added-value, branded olive oil.

Saving Europe’s last free flowing wild river: Vjosa/Aoos

2020 saw the final year of implementation of this MAVA funded project’s first phase, which will continue until 2022. MedINA along with Pindos Perivallontiki, the main Greek partners of the project, collaborated closely on the basis of the following, commonly agreed strategies: optimizing legal compliance and influencing the legal framework, raising public awareness, closing knowledge gaps and developing a Wild River Transboundary Park vision for Aoos/Vjosa.

Despite the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic new collaborations were initiated in 2020, most notably with the Green Tank, an independent non-profit environmental think tank and the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy. Regarding the latter, MedINA currently participates in the bi-monthly meetings organised by the Ministry of Environment and Energy and in 2020 has actively participated in the following public consultations; Environmental Law 4685/2020, EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, National Spatial Planning Draft Law, Draft Joint Ministerial Decisions for the institutionalization and implementation of 8 Action Plans for EU protected Species and Habitats.

In 2020 three  studies were completed and disseminated; a Legal Toolkit titled ‘A Legal Guide for the protection of rivers. The case of Aoos river, in Epirus’, an assessment of the national and regional spatial plan titled ‘Provisions of Greek spatial and water management plans for protection and management of Aoos river as unique natural element’ and the Social Impact Assessment of the Aoos river basin. Finally, it was a year filled with a series of communication activities that made a lasting public impression: the project’s social media postsopinion piecesinterviewswebinars and videos count more than 950.000 views and a high level of engagement.

“Rooted Everyday” Communications Campaign for Mediterranean Cultural Landscapes

The “Rooted Everyday” Communications Campaign is being implemented in the framework on the MAVA Foundation’s Cultural Landscape programme. In the spring of 2020, the Communications team launched the #MedFoodHeroes digital campaign, which peaked with the online streaming of the Share A Dish night events on the project’s Facebook and Instagram live feeds. #MedFoodHeroes celebrated Mediterranean cultural practices and food culture, through showcasing the work of the partners, presenting local products and promoting sustainable land use practices through the work of local producers. In response to COVID 19 restrictions, the core team changed its plans from the initially designed on the ground local activities, to a series of online #MedFoodHeroes Instagram competitions in Greece, Morocco, Menorca, Portugal and Lebanon, which were very successful with over 800 users sharing content under the hashtag #MedFoodHeroes.

Delicious recipes from the Mediterranean, quotes from renowned chefs, ambassadors and local producers can be found on the Rooted Everyday website. In the #MedFoodHeroes Cookbook, also available to download for free on the website, one can find beautiful pictures from all the dishes prepared during the campaign, cooking tips and exciting information on the project sites.