An Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous statute since Byzantine times. The 'Holy Mountain', which is forbidden to women and children, is also a recognized artistic site. The layout of the monasteries (about 20 of which are presently inhabited by some 1,400 monks) had an influence as far afield as Russia, and its school of painting influenced the history of Orthodox art.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Exceptional natural beauty
Cultural landscape of exceptional aesthetic importance
Traditional forest management methods in Mt Athos have focused on coppiced exploitation of perennial and deciduous broad-leaved forests. Environmental, landscape and productive reasons indicate the need for gradual restoration of coppiced oak forests to seedling and for increasing the cycle length of chestnut trees. Such actions have already been undertaken by several Monasteries, but they need to be systematically planned and carried out (SES, 2006; HC, 2012) based on the practices developed by certain monasteries (Philipou & Kontos, 2010).
The need to mitigate adverse effects of previous inadequate practices, restore useless roads, and reduce the volume of new constructions to the absolute minimum (in accordance with fire fighting and operational needs) has been widely agreed upon (HC, 2012; SES, 2006). The 2006 WHC mission report states that road construction has been completed and there is no indication that new roads had been opened since then. Furthermore, the prospect for overall re-examination of the network and implementation of rehabilitation measures in the framework of an integrated management plan creates positive expectations for the future.
The other potential threat, which is external to the site and largely surpasses the powers and jurisdiction of the Athonite Monastic community, is the potential development of large-scale gold mining activities in the vicinity of the site could entail significant threats to the biodiversity of Mount Athos, especially its marine ecosystems if the mining company overcomes the opposition of the Ministry of Environment. Further to the above, demand for opening the buffer zone to commercial fishing is also a significant threat which is driven by external factors.
constructions, the degree of threat cannot be assessed. In any case, this is a high priority issue due to its potential catastrophic impacts for the cultural heritage, thus it is positive noting that the risk preparedness study is planned to be carried out in the framework of the integrated management plan of Athos.
The Holy Community has demonstrated particular interest in this direction, by successfully implementing a programme for aria and oak tree forests rehabilitation, the results of which may be used to guide sustainable forest management across the entire site. At the institutional level, the Forest Ephorate is responsible for monitoring the state and condition of resources; establishing a permanent expert working group as indicated above, would be a useful addition.
Impacts from increasing numbers of pilgrims, and the way pilgrimage has evolved during the last decades, because most use motorised vehicles. The negative impacts of pilgrims, when they overcome a certain threshold, are being felt in some monasteries, The carrying capacity could be defined based on objective parameters, e.g. number of pilgrims that can be accepted in the catholicon. The restoration and recovery of the network of historic footpaths would allow pilgrims to walk among the main monasteries, sketes and arsanas, reducing or avoiding the use of cars or vans, an option that should be promoted for environmental, health and spiritual reasons. Therefore, a comprehensive pilgrim management programme is required and will be initiated through the integrated management study.
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||Holy Community / Business Architects Consultancy||Special Environmental Study of Mount Athos [completed and approved, pending for ratification as Presidential Decree]|
|2||Holy Community / KEDAK||‘Athos Programme’ second phase: Restoration and enhancement of buildings, preservation and enhancement of heirlooms, protection of the natural environment and ecosystems, development of solid and liquid waste management infrastructures, construction of fire protection infrastructures, development of renewable energy sources, etc. [being implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change]|
|3||Holy Community||‘Digital Ark’: Classification and digitisation of manuscripts, sacristies and other heirlooms [partly implemented, seeking integration to Community Operational Programme ‘Information Society’ for funding its final stage]|
|№||Site need title||Brief description of potential site needs||Support needed for following years|
|1||Holy Community / ETHIAGE||Application of best practice management methods in chestnut coppice forests (Castanea Sativa woods 9260) of Mount Athos [submitted in the framework of the LIFE + 2007 programme, pending for approval]|
|2||Holy Community / Interdisciplinary scientific team||Strategic Framework for the conservation and management of the cultural and natural heritage of Mount Athos [Preliminary report submitted to the General Secretariat for Culture and the WHC]|
|1||Archimandrite Élisaios, Higoumène de Simonos Pétra (2013) Caractéristiques fondamentales de la société athonite. Séminaire pluridisciplinaire, Thessalonique 29 août 2013 (French traslation by Father Makarios of Simonopetra)|
|2||Babalonas, D. (2001) Fora and endemism of Mount Athos, in S. Dafis, N. Tsigaridas and M. Fountoulis (eds.) Holy Mountain: Nature-Worship-Art, Thessaloniki: Cultural Capital of Europe - Thessaloniki 97, Thessaloniki, p.7|
|3||Concerning gold mining threats: http://miningwatch.ca/blog/2017/5/29/eldorado-gold-s-unspok…|
|4||Friends of Mount Athos- Footpath restoration project: http://www.athosfriends.org/footpaths/|
|5||Friends of Mount Athos- Footpath restoration project: http://www.athosfriends.org/footpaths/|
|6||Holy Community (HC), 2012. Strategic Framework for the conservation and management of the cultural and natural heritage of Mount Athos, Preliminary Report.|
|7||ICOMOS, 1988. Recommendation to World Heritage Centre for Mount Athos, September 1988.|
|8||IUCN World Heritage Consultation Form, 2012.|
Mallarach, Josep-Maria (2013) Comments about the preliminary report on the “Strategic Framework for the Conservation and Management of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of Mount Athos. Non published report, Thesaloniki workshop.
Mallinis, Giorgos, Ioannis Mitsopoulos Esteban Beltran, and Johann Georg Goldammer (2016) AssessingWildfire Risk in Cultural Heritage Properties Using High Spatial and Temporal Resolution Satellite Imagery and Spatially Explicit Fire Simulations: The Case of Holy Mount Athos, Greece, Forests 2016, 7, 46; doi:10.3390/f7020046. www.mdpi.com/journal/forests
|10||Nantsou, Theodota (2010) Environmental action by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in Thymio Papaynnis & Josep-Maria Mallarach, editors. The Sacred Dimension of Protected Areas. Proceedings of the Second Workshop of The Delos Initiative. Ouranoupolis 2007. IUCN Med-INA, pages 241-248.|
|11||Phlilipou, Ioannis & Konstantinos Kontos (2010) The protected area of the peninsula of the Athos Holy Mountain, Halkidiki, Greece, in Thymio Papaynnis & Josep-Maria Mallarach, editors. The Sacred Dimension of Protected Areas. Proceedings of the Second Workshop of The Delos Initiative. Ouranoupolis 2007. IUCN Med-INA, p. 107-126.|
|12||SES, 2006. Business Architects Consultants, Special Environmental Study for Mount Athos (in Greek).|
|13||SOC, 2012. State of Conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List.|
|14||SoOUV, 2012. Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, General Secretariat of Culture.|
|15||Tselentis, G-A and L. Danciu (2010) Probabilistic seismic hazard assessment in Greece – Part 1: Engineering ground motion parameters. Natural Hazards Earth Systems Science, 10, 25–39.|
|16||Vavalekas, C. (2001) The fauna of the Holy Mountain, in in S. Dafis, N. Tsigaridas and M. Fountoulis (eds.) Holy Mountain: Nature-Worship-Art, Thessaloniki: Cultural Capital of Europe - Thessaloniki 97, Thessaloniki, p.7|
|17||WHC, 2006. Report on the Joint Mission UNESCO - ICOMOS - IUCN to Mount Athos, Greece, from 30 January to 3 February 2006.|
|18||WHC, 2012. Decision 36 COM 7B.38 for Mount Athos (Greece) (C/N 454).|
|19||WWF, 2012. Greece, then and now. Diachronic mapping of land cover, 1987-2007. Available online: http://issuu.com/wwf-greece/docs/diahroniki-hartografisi/1 (in Greek).|