With the festive holiday season upon us, our team would like to reflect on all the major activities and achievements that filled MedINA’s year with creativity and innovation, as well as take the opportunity to wish a Happy New Year 2020 to all its partners and friends.
- MedINA’s major project this year was the Terra Lemnia project which aims to showcase and restore traditional agro-pastoral practices on the island of Lemnos, focusing on the traditional “mandra” system. The project was launched in September 2017 and is funded by the MAVA Foundation under its Mediterranean Strategy on Cultural Landscapes. The past year has seen the Terra Lemnia project ‘maturing’, passing from research into action in many fields.
The core project management team of MedINA has been enlarged this year with the appointment of an assistant project manager and a communications officer, allowing to establish a stronger team working on project implementation at all levels. In parallel, funding from IUCN-Med has allowed continuation of work from the Biodiversity Core Group (BCG); a coordination meeting has been held in November 2018 in Athens and fieldwork has been carried out in spring 2019 on Lemnos by five BCG experts. Similarly, funding from IUCN has allowed engagement of two external experts to assist in developing a strategy for promotion of several priority cultural products of the island.
One of the main goals for the Terra Lemnia team in the past year was to translate research into on-the-ground conservation actions, while improving understanding of cultural practices and their links to local biodiversity and landscape. Significant emphasis has been placed in the creation of a network of collaborating practitioners who are actively involved in conservation and restoration of cultural practices, a key theme regarding sustainability after the end of the Terra Lemnia project.
In June 2019, MedINA in collaboration with Anemoessa and the Agricultural University of Athens organized a 3-day field visit for the practitioners of Lemnos. The team visited dairy farms and legumes factories in continental Greece (Elassona and Kozani). In September 2019 a capacity building seminar took place and brought the practitioner community together. An open stakeholder workshop, to present main project findings and plan on next steps together with local stakeholders, took place in September 2019, combined with the aforementioned capacity building seminar.
Numerous contacts and meetings with authorities at all scales have been carried out last year as part of the project’s lobbying and policy leverage actions regarding the main topics of interest.
Significant progress has been achieved regarding economics-related aspects, both in terms of mobilizing a wide network of local stakeholders and regarding a series of supportive activities which aim to increase visibility and market potential of selected, priority, cultural products of Lemnos.
- The Terra Lemnia communications team, supported by a newly appointed communications officer based in Athens, and a local expert tasked with organising awareness raising actions in Lemnos, has been active in many fronts: The Greek version of the Terra Lemnia project website is now fully operational; The project’s Facebook and Instagram accounts are used as main source for communicating news and upcoming events to the local community, while the YouTube channel contains audiovisual material of project activities; The project has regular presence in the local media, through radio interviews, press releases, posting of articles etc.
- As part of the Terra Lemnia project, MedINA coordinated the inscription process of the Melipasto/Melichloro cheese of Lemnos, an important and symbolic element of the Lemnian heritage to the National Catalogue of the Intangible Heritage of Greece. A related video was also produced (with English subtitles).
- Cultural heritage of Lemnos – The Cultural Elements of the Mandra System of Lemnos: A narrative approach
An important element of the traditional agro-pastoral system of rural Lemnos is the mandra (pen), around which the productive and social life of the “kehaghiades”, the stock-breeders-farmers of the island is organised. Lemnos’ mandra system could be considered as the end result of the island’s environmental, socio-economic and cultural characteristics. After a series of meeting with locals and extensive bibliographical research, a detailed report about the mandra system and the role of kehaghias was drafted.
- As coordinators of the Landscape Approach (LA) Overarching Initiative (OI) along with WWF North Africa, MedINA’s project team moved from building the approach to implementation. After having completed the final part of the landscape methodology, which concluded in the document "Development of a set of criteria and identification of appropriate tools for implementation in each site” the LA OI team, along with the consultants, helped the pilot site partners to define objectives and tools for their M6 pilot sites. In Lemnos, the tool of landscape change mapping through a mixed approach of land use change detection and oral history was used in order to record changes from 1960s to 2000, and the results will be presented in a peer-reviewed article. In the other 3 sites the process is in the phase of implementation design. In the next steps a capacity building workshop is planned for February 2020.
MedINA also coordinates the Overarching Initiative on Communications for MAVA’s cultural landscapes project in which 2019 saw the launch of the Rooted Everyday campaign: Many Paths, One Mediterranean and the coming through of its first Mediterranean activity, the 1st #MedStoryPrize competition for adults and children across Greece, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Lebanon, which produced an eBook with the winning and highest ranked stories selected by a Mediterranean judging panel of acclaimed authors. In 2020 the partnership will launch the #MedFoodHeroes campaign, which will showcase the richness and value of sustainable production and land use practices in the Mediterranean Basin.
- MedINA also participated in the communications team for the “Off your Map” campaign on coastal wetlands by creating the animated video “Wetlands & People: A Vital Connection” on wetland cultural values, which is at the moment being broadly disseminated in a national and pan-Mediterranean level.
- The project "Saving Europe's Last Free River - Vjosa / Aoos" has entered its third and final year. As partners in this program, MedINA, Pindos Perivallontiki and Inherit, have worked closely to reach targeted audiences and the general public on the importance of this river. Thus, on 6th February 2019, a round table and screening of the film Blue Heart was held in Glasgow and on May the 29th a panel entitled "Small Places, Great Challenges: The Struggle for Europe's Blue Heart" , including the screening of the film Blue Heart took place in the Hellenic Film Archive. Moreover, with the help of lawyer Yiannis Papadimitriou, MedINA is preparing to publish a legal guide with a chapter outlining opportunities to address issues created by hydroelectric dams –by citizens and non-governmental organizations. Finally, the Social Impact Study combining both social and environmental aspects –which will be a key tool for the protection and sustainable development of the area– is on its final stage of production and will be delivered in 2020.
The Mediterranean Consortium for Nature & Culture (MCNC) is a collaborative partnership of six organisations, which has for the past 6 years been working to better understand, support and celebrate threatened cultural practices that benefit nature in the Mediterranean Basin. In 2019, a process lead by MedINA and support by the consultant Christoph Stein has been put in place in order to re-design the Strategic and Operational framework of the network, to propel the Consortium into a new approach where collaboration between existing and new members will be based on a more flexible structure that can optimise their respective strengths.
- Τhe INCREAte approach, MedINA’s integrated adaptive management framework, continued to gain attention among conservation professionals. During the summer of 2019, MedINA published a scientific paper in the Heritage peer reviewed journal, addressing the INCREAte approach and its implementation in the island of Kythera, Greece. The article has already attracted more than 700 unique views.
In the fall of 2019, INCREAte was presented to trail professionals from 13 countries at the closing event of the 1st ‘Green Flag Trails’ auditor training in Europe, as a way to increase the scope, depth and impact of trail projects worldwide. MedINA also took part in the first workshop of a nascent European network of researchers working on hiking and rural development facilitated by UCV (Valencia Catholic University Saint Vincent Martyr). Representatives from five Spanish Universities and the Spanish Federation FEDME were particularly interested in MedINA’s insights, tools and methodologies.
As a result of all of the above, the IMNC tool, which is at the heart of the INCREAte approach, saw a proliferation of new users during this year with 25 new projects around the world.
MedINA’s involvement in the pilot area of Kythera progressed on the basis of the intervention strategy. The strategy is implemented in collaboration with three, key, local organizations. During 2019, the trails network of Kythera has been upgraded and expanded to 12 trails of more than 100 km. This is a major milestone for the project and the sustainable development of the island, enabling seasonal and spatial dispersal of tourism, supporting the local economy as well as valorising the natural and cultural heritage.
Moreover, based on and expanding upon the INCREAte Approach and its IMNC tool, MedINA continued to implement the innovative, integrated approach in recording the trails natural and cultural Points of Interest (PoIs) using a specially designed recording protocol. At the same time, aiming to create thematic versions of the trails, MedINA continued with the ethnographic study with 45 in-depth individual interviews and bibliographic review. As a result, the project team has been able to capture local knowledge in relation to the old trails, traditional practices, and local stories among others. The analysis of primary and secondary data started during the end of 2019.
Moreover, in October 2019, one of MedINA’s CLLD/Leader funding proposals for Kythera was approved. With this funding, MedINA will produce an innovative smartphone trail guide app and a web portal, responding to the needs of hikers while also being state-of the-art dissemination hubs for all MedINA’s research work.
Looking forward to 2020 we will keep working passionately towards achieving our goals and bringing our international community and partners closer to creating an ever growingly greener, fairer and more compassionate world!