An Overview of Cultural Practices from Greece and the Balkan States

2nd July 2013

• Traditional pastoralism and transhumance (as a phenomenon that plays an important role in structuring and connecting ecosystems – carnivores, birds of prey, biodiversity of plants etc)

• Traditional fishing (a series of small but complex social-ecological systems, that involve a wide range of species a) taken for subsistence and commercial use primarily by local fishermen and b) associated with local beliefs, myths and knowledge systems)

• Medicinal plants (the special meaning they have to people and their diachronic contribution to human well-being can contribute to the preservation of their natural habitats)

• Traditional bioclimatic architecture and dry-stone constructions in rural areas (considering that the setting is usually carefully preserved and transformed with extreme sensitivity, never forgetting that it will have to be passed on to future generations; also considering that the agricultural land has had the same use for centuries, without being invaded or taken over for other purposes except from agriculture, that was anyway the only guarantee of local people’s survival)

• Water management (with an emphasis to traditional irrigation practices and pre-industrial hydropower mills)

• Sacred areas, sacred forests/ trees (the oldest form of habitat protection; local beliefs of the supernatural or religious practices can reveal the reasons behind the protection of an area for centuries)

• Celebrations and festivals that promote environmental awareness and protection (such as the carnivals, carrying on the spirit of ancient celebrations for the coming of spring and nature’s fertility)