Mt Athos (N. Greece): Towards an integrated approach

Mt Athos (N. Greece): Towards an integrated approach

The Athonite peninsula carries the heavy legacy of the holy Mt Athos, a living Christian Orthodox tradition of a millennium. Twenty Monasteries share the peninsula and the Holly Community that represents them self-governs the region. It is worth mentioning that after years of decadence following WW2, the area has been regenerated, both spiritually and demographically, and high levels of education and competence characterise the members of this community. Mt Athos faces two major challenges: first, to safeguard the rich natural and cultural heritage of the region and at the same time to satisfy the needs of the monastic communities, and second, to maintain the spiritual peace that is imperative for prayer and meditation while extending hospitality and guidance to the pilgrims and visitors.

The preparation of an integrated study for the entire area had been considered crucial for quite some time and after the preparation of a special environmental study in 2008, the monastic community decided to proceed with the integrated environmental study. The study was launched in 2010 and will be based on a number of principles, among which are the safeguarding of the Mt Athos traditions, cultural wealth, ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as the implementation of sustainable methods of production and management, with the active participation of its inhabitants. The study covers a number of themes and will be completed in 2011. It requires transdisciplinary integration, a fully integrated approach to spiritual, cultural and natural heritage, and will involve three levels of stakeholders –the monastic community, public authorities and international organisations.



Thymio Papayannis