The heads of Greek and Cypriot mountainous communities have agreed to cooperate in various areas such as culture and the environment and exchange know-how and resources in promoting their regions, it was announced on Thursday.

The 11 mayors of Greece’s Pindos area, whose administrative districts include 500 communities, visited Cyprus recently for contacts and also signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Cyprus-based MountMed Institute on promoting a broader range of actions in areas such as the environment, society and culture, through research and innovation.

“The aim is to start a productive cooperation, through the utilisation of know-how, expertise, resources, and the network of partners available to the parties,” MountMed Institute said in a news release.

The visit was organised by MountMed Institute and the National Park of Tzoumerka, Acheloos Valley, Agrafa and Meteora. The administrative boundaries of these 11 municipalities are within the national park.

The memoransum was symbolically signed in Kalopanayiotis, as a model for the revival of a mountain community.

The institute said the mayors’ visit to Cyprus and the memorandum “is part of the effort to create a new perspective for the mountains of the future and is the beginning of a mutual cooperation for the benefit of mountainous areas and their transformation into places of creation, residence and employment.”

The mayors also met with Deputy Minister for Tourism, Savvas Perdios, the Commissioner for the Development of Mountain Communities, Costas Hambiaouris, and Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis.

They discussed the mountain areas’ contribution to the development of alternative forms of tourism and opportunities for the development of sustainable tourism in protected areas.

With Kadis, they discussed the environmental challenges and threats faced in mountainous areas. The minister said the Troodos Mountains are a huge source of natural wealth, while many areas have been included in the Natura 2000 network, the European Union’s nature protection areas.

The interest in the production and marketing of high-quality local agri-food products was also among the topics of discussion.

The Institute of Research and Development for Mountain Regions of the Mediterranean Islands (MountMed Institute), was established by a group of academic and research centers with the support of The John Papadouris Foundation. Its aim is to help revitalise the mountain regions of Cyprus and the rest of the Mediterranean islands, as well as to reinforce their sustainable development.