Step-by-step for the development of geo-tourism

Greek and foreign scholars in Syros in October to talk about the geological value of Apano Meria.

At a systematic pace, actions and efforts are being promoted to help achieve the great goal of creating a Geopark in Syros with the aim of integrating it into the Geoparks of UNESCO, with human resources rallying around the important objective of strengthening its implementation.

The main asset for the creation of the Geopark is Apano Meria and its geological wealth, on which the Municipality of Syros – Ermoupolis has secured a few months ago, specifically in May, the funding of € 367,285 from the Special Aims Development Program for the South Aegean 2017 – 2020, which is funded by the Public Investment Program (national EDP funds) for the exploitation of the geological heritage of the capital of the Cyclades and the development of geotourism.

In the same direction is the effort of the Cooperative of Apano Meria, which is launching and planning actions to inform the local community, with next October being a period during which several of its events will be held.

In particular, preparations are being made for the organization of a scientific conference in which speakers will be important academics from Greece and abroad, and for twenty days will hold informative exhibitions, concerts and events, with the main goal of promoting the Apano Meria.

For the implementation of the above, the Cooperative is seeking the financial support of the City of Syros – Ermoupolis, up to the amount of 700 euros, as unanimously decided by the Culture Committee and which will be debated this evening at the planned meeting of the city council.

The [news paper] “Public Opinion” contacted the head of the majority opposition, Andreas Gialoglou, who “ran” and “runs” the development efforts for geotourism, the creation of a museum of geological heritage and the creation of a Geopark, together with a group of scientists and people who love the Apano Meria, in order to provide statements regarding the stage in which all the actions mentioned above are at present.

The local population knows and protects the geological heritage

In particular, the Cooperative “Apano Meria” has developed a series of actions to date that focus on the promotion and visibility of the rich geological heritage of Syros, while stressing the need for the local population to know the geological “physiognomy” of the place and to maintain and protect it.

In the document sent for the purpose of announcing the new events – actions listed below, the Cooperative mainly mentions its main objectives and takes stock of its actions so far.

“In its request to the City of Syros – Ermoupolis, the Cooperative “Apano Meria”, whose purpose is the declaration, protection, conservation and operation of the Geopark, calls for the support of the City of Syros – Ermoupolis as co-organizer at the events we plan to carry out October 2018″, it says, stressing to the City council and the citizens that” The Cooperative ‘Apano Meria’ is also working to enhance the activities of the local population related to geological, archaeological, hiking tourism, agrotourism, production of local organic products (horticulture, honey, wine, dairy) and the development of alternative tourism in general.

So far, as it is mentioned, the effort for promotion of Apano Meria achieved the following: “Among our activities so far are: 1. The organization of a scientific conference with the participation of 10 important personalities of science and literature on the importance of the protection and conservation of Syros. 2. Simultaneous organization of a 15-day informative photo and visual exhibition with the participation of 25 artists along with musical events. 3. Also, in April 2017, we proceeded to the publication of the “Syros Grammata” magazine of 320 pages, with the themes of the geological and archaeological treasures of Syros, the biodiversity (flora and fauna), the Syros trails, and 4. We successfully organized 4-day seminars addressed to the farmers of the island with the following topics: anhydrous and organic farming,

Public reception and participation

Against this backdrop, Mr. Gialoglou was asked to answer in the first place the question whether it has so far been shown that there is an interest from the part of the local population in some actions that have already been implemented, especially in the seminars.

“The Cooperative has taken a number of actions, such as seminars to farmers to promote the arid crops that fit in Apano Meria. Agronomists participated; and it has held other workshops, “he commented, pointing out that” there is a significant impact, and there are usually more than 50 people in Cooperative meetings.”

He added, “The actions of the cooperative help communicate the whole project and secure community consensus” in terms of targeting the emergence of the geological heritage and the creation of a Geopark.

“The dialogue on the Geopark and the reserves of Syros and the islands opens”

Very important are the actions to be launched by October of this year by the cooperative “Apano Meria”, which are described in detail in the document sent to the city council. In particular, reference is made to the arrival of scholars who will participate as speakers in a scientific conference to inform the world, as well as in the implementation of exhibitions and other actions.

“For the next October 2018, we are preparing a scientific conference with the participation of Greek and foreign Geology professors with subject the great geological significance of Syros and of the Cyclades islands.

In the meeting will be invited to attend Mayors of the Cyclades as well as some scientists related to the Cycladic islands “, the report states,” At the same time for 20 days (10-30 October), events will take place aimed at informing the citizens on the Geopark of the Cyclades: Informative and artistic exhibitions, concerts, theatrical performances with school participation.

It is clarified that the City’s assistance is requested as these actions complement and are in addition to the efforts of creating the Geopark and the operation of a geological museum.

“Considering that efforts of the cooperative ‘Apano Meria’ in the realization of the declaration of the Syros Geological Park are important, we ask your financial support for the organization of this great project,” the members stressed.

The aim is to be included in UNESCO’s Geoparks

Regarding the above, Mr. Gialoglou, speaking to “Public Opinion”, points out that “In October, a symposium will be held for the Syros Geopark” in order to make clear the objective of the integration of the Syros Geopark, when it is created, to the “cycle” of UNESCO Geoparks.

“We want to make clear the prospect of joining the UNESCO Geoparks”, he said, adding that “Significant speakers will be involved both Geologists and representatives from existing geoparks as well as scientists dealing with other fields of interest to Apano Meria, like flora, fauna, archeology.”

He explained that “This action takes place in the context of Geopark’s visibility in order to make known what we are doing and, of course, to help our project designated by the Special Purpose Program of the South Aegean.”

Participation of Municipalities from the Cyclades

Given the invitation to the Municipalities of the Cyclades and the “opening” made to them for the achievement of the great goal of the creation and integration of the Geopark in UNESCO, it should be mentioned at first level that the cooperation of Municipalities of the prefecture with Syros is required to form a plan capable of claiming this integration.

“Geopark’s theme is a longer-term goal. We are talking about 4-5 years, “Mr. Gialoglou said, explaining that, “For the Geopark to join UNESCO, the participation of Syros alone is not enough. It takes a critical mass, which is not covered by Syros alone. It is required to work with four or five islands to build the “variety” that is needed and to be competitive with other Geoparks”.

Therefore, in anticipation of the workshop, in which all of this will be clearly analyzed, he stated that, “In this context, some Municipalities of adjacent islands have been invited to form a unity and a create a common effort.”

Programming contract with Universities. Creation of a geological museum.

Mr. Gialoglou also informed about the stage in which the attempt to create a geological museum in the context of the development of geotourism is found currently, as also provided for in the agreement of the City with two other universities that will emerge directly, against the backdrop of the funding received by the City.

It is worthwhile mentioning that the announcement by the City of the securing of funding was that “The development of geotourism is interwoven and complementary to the operation of the geopark—which will occupy mainly the northern part of the island, north of the Kini – Agios Dimitrios line, as well as the foundation of the geological display, where the geological history of the region will be presented, finds from characteristic geological formations and fossils, possible paleontological finds—and generally with what characterizes the geology of the area. ”

For his part, Andreas Gialoglou, following the above and speaking in the newspaper, noted: “The next action we have to do is a programmatic agreement between the City of Syros – Ermoupolis, the University of Athens and the University of the Aegean—its department in Syros—to create a geological museum in Syros and at the same time some geological routes that will be connected with it.” “The aim is to “attract researchers, students and visitors from all over the world”.

According to what he repeated, “We have the funding and we are in the process of enrolling in the EDP. In September we want to conclude the program contract. In essence, the program contract is the legal commitment to start implementation. ”

The deadline for implementation is two years, while, as he stated, concluding his statements, the implementation of all the objectives will generally favor Syros in the direction of the development of geological tourism.

The vision of the Geopark from “Apano Meria”

In order to provide more detailed information to the local community, the “Apano Meria” Cooperative vision for the Geopark in Syros is published, as it has been described and presented on the relevant website: “The Apano Meria of Syros is a characteristic and well-preserved example of Cycladic history, Cycladic economy and culture as well as the Cycladic landscape and its architecture: a. with history and archaeological sites starting with the beginning of the Cycladic culture (Kastri-Halandriani, Delphinonisi – 3000 BC), b. with the rare archaeological site of Grammata, connected with the naval transportation of Cyclades, which have been connected with the Cycladic civilization since its birth; c. with rare geological formations depicting the geological history of the Aegean, d. with a strong marine richness that characterizes the area as a continuation and unity with the established marine park of Gyaros, with a local economy that was always based on agricultural and livestock production in small areas, which was shaped by the intense relief with the elevations and the dry-stone walls. Agricultural production mainly anhydrous, due to the severe lack of water that always characterized most of the Cycladic islands, f. With small coherent settlements with mainly one-floor buildings, with wild bushes, threshing floors, wells and many typical architectural constructions, g. With a wild natural beauty, composed of steep slopes, smells of thyme and sage, old paths, dry stone walls and terraces, wild ravines along with the pristine beaches protected by the winds.

The Apano Meria of Syros after decades of abandonment and since it has so far avoided chaotic tourism development is at an important crossroads. Will this overexploitation of the tourism industry, which characterizes most Cycladic islands, be followed, or the island will be able to preserve its character and its history, to preserve and highlight its own characteristics, surpassing the period of abandonment and returning to a new a period of mild and sustainable development?

This is our vision: To characterize the area as an Environmental and Geological Park, to protect all its natural, architectural, geological and marine characteristics, to preserve and restore the human structures that constitute the living history of the region and the Cyclades in general and finally to become a pole of attraction for mild recreational activities such as hiking and geological tourism, climbing, diving, fishing and agrotourism as well as the highlighting of archaeological sites. The sustainable development will hopefully save Apano Meria from both abandonment and tourism overexploitation.

Published in the Joint Opinion on 3 September 2018

Τranslated by Constantine Hatziadoniu

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