Joining the vision of a Cycladic Geopark

(2018) €3.000 awarded

Apano Meria (meaning ‘northern place’) of Syros Island stretches over the mountainous terrain, where tranquillity and serenity surround the scattered farmhouses with the heady scent of fennel, thyme and wild olives. In the context of the ongoing initiative made by the locals for establishing Apano Meria as an environmental and geological park, the full clarification of the ownership on historical footpaths leading to sites of particular geological significance is of crucial importance.

To this end, the CPF is happy to grant the ‘APANO MERIA’ Social Cooperative Enterprise for the establishment, management and protection of the environmental park of Apano Meria (a Natura 2000 protected area) in order to conclude a study on the registration of properties on the three main pathways (called Kampos-Lia,  Kampos-Marmari-Megas Lakkos, and  Kampos-Griza/Ipi), and  investigate all legitimate potentials of conceding the usage of proprietary parts of paths.

The outcome of the project will be a ‘map’ and at the same time the foundation stone of the initiative to establish Apano Meria as a UNESCO Geopark. The study will remain at the disposal of all relevant authorities, to be used as a ‘tool’ to promote and facilitate any legal and sustained use of these paths, with positive results upon the proper future management of those, including the promotion of the experiential and alternative tourism in the island of Syros.

Quote by Andreas Gialoglou, Geologist, member of Apano Merria Social Enterprise

The effort to exhibit the unique features of Apano Meria in the island of Syros has begun since many years ago. In the last two years, however, there has been a more coordinated effort characterized by a “from the roots” approach, which brought about, on one hand, the sensitization of a large section of the local society and, on the other, the achievement of specific results; these culminated with the creation of the Social Cooperative Organization (SCO), suitably entitled “Environmental Park of Apano Meria in Syros”, and also the inclusion in the Development Program of Special Purpose of Southern Aegean of the project entitled “Activities the Exploit the Geology History for the Development of Geo-Tourism in Syros”, which has a budget of 367,000 €.

CPF, realizing from the first moment the dynamics and prospects of this endeavor, came to our side, contributing in a specific and effective manner to the preparations for the implementation of the above project. With the funding that it made available to the SCO, it was possible to complete the study which determined the property status of the “geo-corridors” that are going to be created. That way, we are now able to approach the owners and to secure their consensus and participation in the implementation of this vision for the Apano Meria, under terms that respect the diverse inheritance of the area.’

The Vision of the Environmental Park in Apano Meria that we are proud to share:

The Upper Part of Syros is a typical and well-preserved example of Cycladic history, Cycladic economy and culture as well as its landscape and architecture.

It has history and archaeological sites that date back to the beginning of the Cycladic civilization (Kastri-Chalandriani, Delfinonisi – 3000 BC).

It has the rare archaeological site of Grammata, associated with the nautical communication of the people of the Cyclades who nurtured Cycladic culture from its inception.

It has rare geological formations which illustrate the geological history of the Aegean.

It has the intense and rich marine life which characterizes the area, as a continuation of and in common with the legally-established marine park of Gyaros.

It has a local economy based exclusively on small-scale agricultural and livestock production in a harsh terrain of steep slopes and dry stone walls.

Agricultural production is mainly without water, due to a severe water shortage that has always characterized most Cyclades Islands.

It has small cohesive settlements with predominantly single-storey buildings, with huts, threshing-floors, wells and many characteristic architectural constructions.

It has a wild natural beauty, which consists of steep hillsides, the scent of thyme and sage, old paths, terraces, steep hillsides, and wild valleys with pristine beaches protected from the north winds.

The Upper Part of the island, after decades of neglect and having so far escaped unregulated tourism development, is at an important crossroads. Will it pursue the overexploitation of the tourist industry, as have most of the Cycladic islands, or will it be able to retain its character and its history, to preserve and highlight its special features by moving on from the period of abandonment and embarking on a new period of light and sustainable development?

This is our vision: with the designation of the area as an Environmental and Geological Park, to protect all natural, architectural, geological and marine features, to maintain and restore human-built structures that form the living history of the area and the Cyclades in general, and finally for the area to become a centre for sustainable activities, such as walking and geological tourism, climbing, diving, fishing, ecotourism and the promotion of archaeological sites.

This is the main sustainable development which could save the Upper Part both from abandonment and from overexploitation by tourism.


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