Mediterranean Consortium for Culture and Nature
Assessing and supporting cultural conservation practices in the Mediterranean
All Mediterranean countries vary in their physical geography, biodiversity and their historic, cultural and social character. They present different environmental processes and pressures and diverse governance and economic conditions. West Asia region (Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan) has been highly known for the cultural practices carried out by its community especially in rural areas. These practices have always had a positive effect on the environment and communities have always depended on these practices for income generation. Today, with the urban sprawl, development, and technology, people started looking towards the businesses in the city in order to meet the high livings costs, thus, culture is losing its identity.
A consortium of NGOs (Associacion Trashumancia y Naturaleza) DiversEarth, Yolda Initiative, Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (Med-INA), Society for Protection of Nature in the Lebanon (SPNL), and WWF), have joined forces to undertake a project to assess and support cultural conservation practices in the Mediterranean Basin funded by MAVA Foundation.
Aim of Project:
The project aim is to reinforce traditional practices, techniques and ways of living harmoniously with nature as well as celebrating the ingenuity of people all across the Mediterranean to protect and manage their land, water and resources. The vision and goal of the project is to contribute to a real revival of such practices so that they remain – or become – robust enough to stand their ground in the 21st century.
Main Objective: Understand and support cultural conservation practices and the cultural values and value systems that underpin them in a sensitive area of the Earth.
Phase 1 : Duration 2013 – 2015
Objective 1: Identify important cultural conservation practices across the Mediterranean Basin
Objective 2: Understand the main characteristics of these cultural practices that successfully contribute to nature conservation and management in the Mediterranean
Objective 3: Prioritizing cultural conservation practices in need of further support
Objective 4: Identify traditional / cultural institutions who could become partners in strengthening conservation throughout the region.
Objective 5: Provide support to 2-3 site-based cultural practices
After six months of research and literature review, all Mediterranean partners in the project had a meeting in Spain. During the meeting cultural practices of the different sub-regions were presented. Many findings and assessments of the Cultural Conservation Practices were done in the Partner Countries. These practices covered near East Region (Lebanon, Syria and Jordan), Turkey, Greece and the Balkans, Spain and Portugal, Tunisia and Morocco. A publication was published for this Rapid Assessment of Cultural Conservation Practices in the Mediterranean.
In Spain, the partners were taken care of by an NGO called Tranhumanzia y Naturalezea (TyN). TyN has been established in 1992 and its aim was to collaborate with shepherds to bring back traditional transhumance on foot. The NGO, first, has traced all transhumance routes in Spain and has been working on Policy making, research and monitoring, training and building capacity, awareness and education, infrastructure development, marketing and branding.
The cultural practice that was common between all countries along the Mediterranean borders and that was put forward for the next six months was grazing. Each of the countries had to put a draft action plan for the coming six months for grazing. Taking note that the action plan put for the phase 2 of the project will be the base for further long term projects in each country.
A report was produced as the outcome of phase 1 of the project. On the Move Overview Report was focused on the transhumance practices across the different partner countries. The report included the following headings:
Biodiversity Conservation – A way of Life
About transhumance in the Mediterranean
Perspectives from around the Mediterranean
Iberian Oeninsula – Reviving the long Transhumance in the Iberian Peninsula
Greece and the Balkans – Abandoning Transhumance in the Pindos Mountains of Greece
North Africa (Tunisia) – Learning from the Desert Nomads
Middle East – The challenging of governing pastoralism in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria
Turkey – The ecological knowledge of Sarakicilar Nomads
On the Move – The Exhibition
On the Move Exhibition
On the Move is an exhibition of professional photography (and film) commissioned by the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture. It celebrates the lives, challenges and ecological knowledge of transhumant shepherds and nomadic pastoralists in the Mediterranean region. From North Africa to the Middle East, from the Iberian Peninsula to Turkey, Greece and the Balkans, the work of 5 professional photographers will be featured in this unique travelling exhibition. On the Move was first launched in Tunisia and then traveled to Paris (UNESCO), Geneva, Lebanon, Greece, Spain and Turkey.
– To celebrate and assert the great value of the ecological knowledge of transhumant herders and nomadic pastoralists;
– To raise awareness of the importance of these lifestyles for both nature and culture;
– To assist in lobbying for increased recognition and strengthened legislation;
– To raise additional funds for supporting projects that assist transhumant herders and nomadic pastoralists in relation to biodiversity conservation.
Each exhibition presented a collection of photographs that depict the intertwined relationships between transhumant herders and nomadic pastoralists with their natural environments. The exhibitions displayed photography, along with some film, scientific data and findings (in the form of maps, publications, info graphic charts, etc.).
The photography imbibed the following messages:
“For millennia in the Mediterranean, there has been a highly symbiotic relationship between transhumant herders / nomadic pastoralists and biodiversity.”
“These cultural practices have demonstrated positive effects on biodiversity.”
“Within these communities we find a rich source of traditional ecological knowledge.”
“Transhumant herders and nomadic pastoralists have much to teach us about sustainability.”
“The life-ways of transhumant herders and nomadic pastoralists are threatened today. Biodiversity declines as these types of practices die out.”
“Transhumant herders and nomadic pastoralists feel a deep connection with nature and their life-ways make them feel free.”
The exhibition promoted each participating photographer throughout the duration of the exhibition by accompanying each set of relevant photographs with attribution, a short biography, and links to personal and professional websites/contact information. It also dedicated a post to each photographer on the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature & Culture pages. In addition, each photographer had a permanent page (biography, personal/professional website details, and contact information) on the exhibition website.
Exhibitions took place in each of the partner countries in areas of high cultural importance or on days of cultural and natural status.
– Musee Bardo/ Tunisia August 2014
– Marie 9em Arrondisement/ Paris September 2014
– Museum D’histoire Naturelle/ Geneva November 2014
– Cultural Center of Byblos/ Lebanon December 2014
– Real Jardin Botanical/ Spain February 2015
– Overoff Museum Metsovo/ Greece July 2015
– Cermodern / Turkey June 2016
– Kamehameha Exhibition Hall / Hawaii September 2016
– UNFCCC COP 22 in Marrakesh / November 2016
Phase 2: Duration 2015 – 2017
Objective 1: Develop the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture’s identity, strategy, governance and outreach for the long term sustainability of the consortium
Objective 2: Capitalize on Phase I work to support the practice of transhumance and mobile Pastoralism in the Mediterranean (based on needs identified in the On the Move Overview Report)
Objective 3: Develop, apply, evaluate and disseminate innovative ways for conserving nature and cultural practices together in five places of high biodiversity in the Mediterranean – for impact on the ground
Four workshops have been held since the beginning of Phase 2 starting from Greece July 2015, Tunisia January 2016, Spain July 2016, and Beirut January 2017. The aim of the meetings is to discuss further the project progress on partner level and the current status of the Consortium. Partners also discuss the different International conferences in which they will participate representing the Consortium, opening up to different worldwide organizations, and sharing experiences.