27 Feb Mission to Mt. Athos
The Athos peninsula in Northern Greece has been declared a World Heritage Site in 1982 both for its nature and rich biodiversity and its culture enshrined in the 20 Monasteries that have been established there starting in the 10th century AD. In addition, the Sacred Mountain maintains a living monastic tradition exceeding a millennium.
At the end of January 2006, a UNESCO mission visited Mt. Athos to ascertain the status of the site both from the environmental and the cultural point of view. Christian Manhart represented the World Heritage Centre and professor Herb Stovel the International Council for Monuments and Sites. Med-INA director Thymio Papayannis represented IUCN – The World Conservation Union.
The first impressions from this mission were that Mt. Athos faces a number of threats (such as fires, opening of new roads, excessive exploitation of forests and ineffective management of wastes). Serious measures, however, are taken by the Greek state and the Monastic community to resolve these problems and thus to maintain its unique ecological and cultural / spiritual character.