Season’s Greetings and a brief review of MedINA’s activities in 2017

Season’s Greetings and a brief review of MedINA’s activities in 2017

As the end of the year has arrived and the holiday season is upon us, the MedINA team would like to take note of its major activities and achievements during 2017 and take the opportunity to wish all its partners a Happy New Year 2018.

2017 was the third year of implementation of the MAVA-funded INCREAte project. A major output of the project is the delivery of an adaptive guide and toolkit on how to incorporate cultural aspects in conservation management design. The application manual and toolkit have been drafted and are currently under review by selected experts. Along with a dedicated web platform, they will be refined and launched in 2018.  At the same time, as part of INCREAte, a Mediterranean-wide survey has been launched that aims to systematically record and report on how cultural aspects are being considered in the management of Protected Areas, as well as how culture is perceived by conservation practitioners. The results of the survey will also be hosted in the INCREAte platform.  Finally, in the INCREAte pilot site, the Greek island of Kythera, the focus is on upgrading the local trails network and its services as part of a strategy for strengthening the tourism product of the island by showcasing nature culture linkages. This is being done in collaboration with the local Municipal Authority, the Domestic Property Committee of Kythera and Antikythera and the Kytherian Foundation of Culture and Development who are now MedINA’s major local partners. 2018 will bear the fruits of these efforts and the expansion and thematic enhancement of the trails network as well as a number of other related interventions will be implemented.

2017 was also the final year of implementation of the Mediterranean Consortium on Nature and Culture (MCNC) project on cultural conservation practices. Two major activity strands were implemented by MedINA; the first is related to the MCNC’s common activities on transhumance and the second to MedINA’s work on traditional fishing practices in the Messolonghi lagoon, a Ramsar site. For the former, MedINA is providing data to the MCNC by documenting the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of mobile pastoralists in Southern Pindos and mapping additional transhumant routes whereas for the latter a number of activities are being undertaken. More specifically, an ethnographic film on the lifeways of the ivari fishermen was completed and screened in the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival, during which MedINA also organised a panel on local community resilience in the 21st century. A feasibility study was undertaken to explore the possibility of creating a single cooperative for the traditional fishermen of the lagoon and a poster and presentation on the Messolonghi project was done in the framework of European Congress of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE 2017) in September 2017. Finally, on the occasion of the World Wetlands Day 2017, in collaboration with the Management Authority of the lagoon, a three-day wetland education activity took place in a local school, with great success. An extended version of this activity has now been approved by the Ministry of Education and is available for teachers as a project-based activity for student environmental education groups.

On the topic of Sacred Natural Sites, MedINA, in cooperation with the University of Malta and the Silene Association, organised the 4th Workshop of the Delos Initiative on Sacred Natural Sites in technologically developed countries in Malta, in April 2017. This workshop complemented the three previous workshop themes by focusing mainly on case studies related to Islam. The proceedings of this workshop are now under preparation coordinated by Irini Lyratzaki and will be published electronically in 2018. In addition, Irini Lyratzaki from MedINA’s Scientific Secretariat was invited to attend a workshop on “Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in the Governance and Management of Protected and Conserved Areas” in June 2107 organised by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Specialist Group on  Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA)  in collaboration with the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, that took place in the International Academy for Nature Conservation on the Isle of Vilm, Germany in June 2017.

In 2017 MedINA also became a member of the Mediterranean Wetlands Alliance and is now managing and coordinating its Red Alert System (RAS), which targets wetlands of global importance that are imminently and seriously threatened, an activity coordinated by Stefanos Dodouras. On the topic of wetland cultural values, MedINA has also undertaken a small project under the Ramsar Culture Network titled “Gastronomic heritage in Mediterranean Wetlands – Healthy wetlands, healthy eating” where a number of recipes with wetland-related ingredients from across the Mediterranean will be included in an electronic publication, as a way of raising awareness on the importance of wetlands.

In 2017 MedINA’s Thymio Papayannis was invited to contribute to the 16th Conference of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) on Tourism and Development titled “Greek Tourism: The perfect balance act” and Lily Mordechai participated in the First European Community Exchange on Seed Diversity and Sovereignty, organised by the Global Diversity Foundation as part of the Global Environments Network (GEN).

Regarding project development, 2017 was a busy year for MedINA as it was substantially involved in the MAVA Foundation’s Mediterranean Strategy. In September 2017, the Terra Lemnia project was launched focusing on the Greek island of Lemnos and its sustainable agro-pastoral practices and specifically the “mandra” system. MedINA is also involved in the “Saving Europe’s last free flowing wild river –Vjosa/Aoos” led by Euronatur and along with Pindos Perivallontiki –a local NGO– is responsible for the activities that will be implemented on the Greek side. Under Output M3 for coastal wetlands, MedINA participates through Yorgos Melissourgos in the Steering Committee of the MARISTANIS project on the Oristano wetlands in Sardinia, led by the MEDSEA Foundation. Furthermore, MedINA also has a role in various Overarching Initiatives under Outcomes M3 and M6 of the MAVA Strategy; it coordinates the Communications and Regional Networking Overarching Initiative, as well as the Landscape Approach under M6, it is a partner in the Policy, the Communal Governance and Public participation and the Capacity Building and Transformative Education Overarching Initiatives under M6 as well as the Communications one under M3.

We hope that the New Year will see a successful implementation of all these projects that will not only enrich our partnerships but will also further our mission and inspire and support people to recognise the value of our natural and cultural heritage for a sustainable and just future. May 2018 bring us one step closer to the creation of an equitable and peaceful world where humankind and nature co-exist in an equitable relationship.