workshop of berms conservation (Nisyros 2011)

The Mediterranean area has been a net of wild landscapes, where man has lived with nature through procedures of inter-domestication and symbiosis for many years. Benching of the soil has been one of the most important and mild interventions of man in the Mediterranean landscape. This is how cultivation in steep slopes is allowed.

In Aegean, the period of slope benching lasted until the beginning of 20th century. From that time, the use of new practices of cultivating, the inner and outward immigration and the social changes after the World War I were the basic factors that leaded to the abandonment of benching and their conservation, as well. Today the benched landscape is just a nice landscape, without any use.

In Nisyros island, benching of the slopes was not only a technique in order to produce cultivating soils, but it was also a tool for designing the main roads and paths of the island. In addition, it could protect the soil from erosion. Finally, this technique was a method of collecting and recycling the rain water.

The workshop of renovating and rehabilitating the benches in Nisyros island (7-14 of September 2011) was organized by AXS and members of AXS, local craftsmen and local people took part in. The program of the workshop involved the repairing and the construction from the beginning of the benches that are placed close to public paths. Specifically, we rebuilded the benches that are close to the path from Lagadi to Palaiokastro and the path to Evagelistria.

Except from the voluntary work and the experience the volunteers had through the workshop, it also revealed to the local community matters that remain unsolved for the last decades. The abandonment of the benching technique and the paths, the uncontrolled grazing and the significant decrease of the cultivation are some of the factors that led to this phenomenon. In addition, we discussed about the issue of volunteering work in order to improve the public infrastructure, an issue now forgotten from the majority of the locals.

We aim to the continuation of these workshops as part of the conservation of Mediterranean architecture and the sustainability as well. We are looking forward to see you in the next workshop!