Cyprus Mail

Conference ponders challenges of islands’ mountain regions

Mountains' commissioner Costas Hambiaouris

Platres and Omodos is hosting a European conference on the challenges facing mountainous areas of large Mediterranean islands, which is running from 28-31 Janaury.

The aim is to share experience and knowledge from other countries with a long tradition in planning and implementing national policies for mountainous regions.

Much of the discussion on the first day focused on the decreasing populations in Europe’s mountain areas and inequality in the distribution of services and infrastructure.

“Strategies and policies which are being implemented will be discussed, as well as on the mechanisms applicable to Mediterranean islands for the development of mountain areas,” said Mountain Communities Development Commissioner Costas Hambiaouris.

Thirty-five scientists from seven EU member states and six Mediterranean islands (Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Balearic Islands, Crete and Cyprus) are also attending.

Opening the conference, Laurent Rieutort, professor at the University of Clermont-Auvergne Ferrand in France, said strategic policies for the development of mountain areas must be considered over 10 years periods.

“The mountain areas face multiple stresses and need to adapt without ignoring existing challenges,” he said. “We have to believe in the process of change and the local people need to believe and be involved also.”

A common theme was the issue of depopulation in the mountain communities.

“There are different stresses with some regions facing population decline and other mountain islands facing saturation from tourism,” said Thomas Dax, deputy director of the Austrian Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics, Rural and Mountain Research.

The conference, titled “Mountain areas of large Mediterranean islands: European issues, National and Regional policies and local mechanisms” is attended by 25 participants from European and international institutions.





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