The project with the name "GEOTOURISM AND LOCAL DEVELOPMENT" and acronym "Geotopes" is part of the Cross Border Co-operation Program "Greece-Cyprus 2007-2013" and is co-funded by the European Union (ERDF) by 80%, while the remaining 20% is covered by national resources of Greece and Cyprus.
The Cross Border Co-operation Program "Greece-Cyprus 2007-2013" is approved by the European Commission since 28/03/2008 by the Decision C (2008) 1131/28-03-2008. The eligible project areas are the regions of Crete (Heraklion, Lasithi, Rethymno and Chania), regions of the North Aegean (prefecture of Lesbos, Samos, and Chios) and Southern Aegean (Dodecanese prefecture) in Greece, as well as the entire island of Cyprus. The overall objective of the "Greece - Cyprus" Program is the "promotion of the area as a focus point for sustainable development in the wider area of the Southeastern Mediterranean, towards enhancing competitiveness".
For more information please visit the website of the Cross Border Co-operation Program "Greece-Cyprus 2007-2013" http://www.greece-cyprus.eu
The project involves the collaboration between two highlands of Crete and Cyprus (Mount of ZAKROS & TROODOS) with the purpose of (a) promoting and protecting their unique geological structures and (b) their use in a sustainable manner adhering to the principles of sustainable development. The natural wealth of these two regions consists of unique geological phenomena that constitute monuments of geological heritage. In this sense (and as evidenced by preliminary studies) the two areas meet the requirements to apply for joining the “Geoparks Network” of UNESCO: “regions with distinct geological heritage. These areas usually have an archaeological, ecological, historical or cultural interest, while it is sought to develop economic activities within their area, such that support and mobilize the local economy”. Given that it is the first time that the details of geological heritage are linked to the economic development of a region, which is considered a necessary condition for the success of the conservation policy and the protection of their geological treasures, the two regions are trying for several years now, with variety of actions, to create the conditions for joining the above Network of UNESCO and the European Geoparks Network.
With this background, the two areas are progressing in close cooperation, utilizing the experience gained during the accreditation of Psilorits Mountain as a Geopark - and with the support of this program - seek to turn these actions, into a realistic action plan for turning their regions to Geoparks.
This project seeks to promote the ‘alternative development’ , in a n effort to combat the well known (at international level) trends of inland abandonment, causing the depletion of environmental, cultural and human resources. A solution was sought in successful (in most cases) sustainable practices (endogenous) of growth that exploit the comparative advantages of each region separately and mobilize the local resources, keeping and preserving the carrying capacity of the site.
Central role to these efforts played the preparation of activities for joining the global Geoparks Network of UNESCO and the European Geoparks Network. Particularly (in terms of Crete), for the past 12 years, “Petraia Chora” of Itanos has become a focus of specialized groups of cavers and geologists from all over Greece and France, conducting surveys to map the surface and subsurface landforms, while efforts are also made from the Greek and Balkan speleological Federation, establishing the region a center for caving studies.