Five Greek islands have symbolically entered the list of endangered cultural heritage sites of Europa Nostra this year. Their presence symbolizes the increasing risk of alteration of the island landscape in recent years by the excessive development of wind farms.
The announcement was made yesterday from The Hague by Europa Nostra and the Institute of the European Investment Bank, which in Greece cooperate with the Hellenic Society of Environment and Culture for the compilation of the known list of threatened areas on an annual basis. The list, therefore, this year included five islands of the South Aegean: Amorgos, Kimolos, Sikinos, Tinos and Kythira. This is a symbolic move, aimed at highlighting the conflict between the island landscape and the overdevelopment of wind farms.
“The choice is representative, because it is impossible to include all the Greek islands that face the same problem”, says Dimitris Leventis, head of the Architectural Heritage Council of ELLET. “The natural landscape is a monument. It is something that survives for hundreds of years, something that sustains life and human activity. I would say that the landscape as a monument has a much greater functional significance than a building, because in it coexist the activities of a society, from agriculture and tourism to services. For Greece, the landscape is part of its tourism product, it exploits it as such. So we must not just maintain it, but improve it. Given the licenses that “run” today for wind farms, the island landscape is changing to industrial. “In Kythira, for example, while 4 wind turbines are enough to meet local needs, 125 have been licensed. So we as a society must see if we want energy autonomous islands or islands-industrial parks for power generation”, concludes Mr. Leventis. “What we want people to realize is that caring for the environment and the landscape must be equal to what we want our monuments to have.”
The list of Europa Nostra is completed by eleven endangered monuments or settlements (for example, the church of Saint Denise in Hauts-de-France, France, the Giusti garden in Verona, Italy, the Central Post Office in Skopje, Northern Macedonia, the Contemporary Theater in Sofia of Bulgaria). Seven of them will be selected in the spring and will compile the final list of culturally endangered areas in Europe in 2021.
It should be noted that, according to Europa Nostra, the choice was made based on the exceptional importance of each heritage and the cultural value of each of the sites, as well as the serious risk they face. The level of involvement of local communities and the commitment of public and private actors to the rescue of these sites were considered significant added value. Another selection criterion was the ability of these sites to act as catalysts for sustainable socio-economic development of their wider areas.