Agro-historical Park of Kazaviti on Thassos

Published by: Thomas Schultze-Westrum

A sustainable way to make optimum use of the natural and cultural assets in the environment of the village and to preserve these ancient landscapes as a treasured heritage for the lasting benefit of future generations.

The Organizers: The non – profit making society KALLIERGIA with seat in Kazaviti, in close collaboration with the Dimos Thasou and the Nomarchia Kavalas.

Actively participating Institutions: Archaeological Museum of Thasos, Cultural Association of Kazaviti, Mountaineering Society of Thasos.

Governmental supervision: The Ministries of Environment, Culture, Agricultural Production and Tourism through their respective representations, in particular EOT; the Forestry Service and the Planning Authority of Kavala.

The assets: In the close vicinity of Kazaviti, an immense treasure of ancient rural landscapes and numerous historical monuments from antique times have survived up to the recent past. But only because of the region „lagging behind“ in development and not because of any conservation considerations or intended measures, nor any adequate exploration and research. Now, as massive waves of modern developments have reached also Kazaviti with a dramatic impact and with much destructive power, these hitherto undisturbed landscapes and the traditional architecture of the village are in alarming danger: SOS KAZAVITI !

So far, only the „plane tree woodlands“, but without indicating any specific location, were included into the NATURA 2000 network. No further protected area status was imposed, simply because the hidden natural and cultural treasures of the Kazaviti environment remained unknown and unpromoted up to the present time. The village itself is characterized „traditional“ (παραδοσιακο) by Presidential Decree of 1978, but the Planning Authority of Kavala issues building permissions which clearly violate the definitions of the Decree.

The first comprehensive list of archaeological sites was only presented earlier this month.

The main features:

The terrassed, now abandoned fields and gardens, at the slopes above the village and on both sides of the southern and northern gorges, with skilfully constructed, most beautiful stone walls (ξερολιθιες), stone gates and foot steps, irrigation channels, water reservoirs and other remarkable features.

This still largely intact ancient system of landuse patterns by the local people is now in the process of being superimposed by the returning wildlife which actually is getting more diverse than in the adjacent pine forest that occupies most of Thasos Island. Rich oak and chestnut woodlands with many more broadleaf tree and shrub species developed – a new habitat even for rare, red – listed animal species.

So we can present here an unique composition of natural and cultural history.

Several archaeological sites are found in these agricultural areas indicating a (possibly continuous) land use history dating back to at least 400 BC (see separate list). We discovered the remains (bricks and roof tiles) of a rural settlement whose inhabitants used grain hand mills and fabricated amphoras and other pottery. Also a sarkophag with Greek inscriptions and the fragments of human marble statues were found at the same place. A total of 12 archaeological sites is listed for the wider environment of Kazaviti.

The top soil on the agricultural plots was enriched over millenia and never ever any industrial fertilizers or pesticides were applied: the land provides pure, healthy conditions and greatest fertility! An immense economic potential is lying without appropriate use (…and at the same time most if not all the vegetables for consumption on Thasos are imported from the mainland) !

Special mention deserve the vineyards of the location Platano which also had been under cultivation since the classical antique period: red wine from these vineyards was praised as one of the best all over Greece, in Athens and as far as Alexandria. Also in this location the majority of terrasses was abandoned several decades ago.

Kazaviti is framed to the south and to the north by deep and pristine gorges – a most impressive landscape which has, however, remained almost unknown because only a very few poeple find their way through this pathless wilderness of ancient plane and chestnut trees, huge bolders of rock and cascading torrents during the wet season.

Again in these gorges a wealth of historical relics has remained and can be included into the programme of excursion tours: the ruins of two ancient water mills, three kilns for burning lime (two of which are almost intact), impressive ancient dam constructions to channel the torrents, terrassed gardens which massive walls of stone.

High up in the summit region of the mountains surrunding Kazaiti, the fragements of an antique civilisation have been discovered only recently. Also this site ought to be considered in the agro – historical park of Kazaviti.

The Scope: „Preservation through sustainable utilization“ without affecting in this process the very assets concerned; that is the guideline for this programme. All these assets will eventually disappear, by neglect or by active destruction if they are not considered as being significant either as historical landmarks by the local families or as sources of financial revenue.

It is impossible to evaluate the money value of a piece of woodland, for instance, if one considers it as something more than just a source of wood. Its role for the local climate, its creational value and its attractive function for rural tourism cannot the estimated by amounts of money – and so nobody protests if these assets are being destroyed. Here a new way of evaluating and a new kind of ecological thinking and respect for antiquity and village tradions is imperative! Otherwise the tragedy is repeated here as well that historical monuments and unique natural treasures are being sacrificed out of pure ignorance and short-term, selfish greed, in the name of „development“.

There is urgent need for presenting exemplary models of how those relics of the past can be re-activated, preserved and economically utilized at the same time.

Local participation and benefit:The traditional owners of the land have abandoned crop cultivation half a century ago, when they decided to leave Kazaviti and move to the coastal plain, to the old place Kalyves, now modern Prinos.

Extensive (but largely destructive) goat grazing is the only „land utilization“ right now.

Some of the plots which are situated at the wider periphery have been claimed by the Forestry Authority. But most of the formerly cultivated land still remains private property. It is actually a very complex land tenure puzzle.

How these ownerships can be identified and verified, still remains an open question … one has to proceed with negotiations in a confined trial area (like Kryonero, see below) and apply the experiences elsewhere. Clearly the land owners expect a revenue. That depends on the individual conditions of the plot in question and upon the option of active participation or just playing a passive role. One has to spend much time in individual talks in order to bring the people concerned under one umbrella, perhaps a cooperative. Income can arise from lease, (subsidiced) traditional (biological) crop cultivation and visiting tourists.

Both the methods of cultivation and the tourism activities have to be compatible with the parks’s scope and rules. For instance, no industrial fertilizers or pesticides must be used, no modern constructions (intersecting metal fences etc.) erected, no other features applied that are non – traditional and would deface and debase the Park’s landscape.

Institutions of the Park: So far only the traditional landscape has been referred to. But the Park should consist of additional and very significant institutions:

Within the village of Kazaviti two museums should supplement the programme in the wider periphery of the settlement. The themes of these museums are the same as in the open landscape: documentation and education about the traditional techniques of agriculture, the archaeological and other historical evidence until 1950 when the inhabitants left the village. A special section will be devoted to the techniques and materials of Thasian house construction being the focus of rural subsistence. And again another thematic highlight will be traditional wine-making at Kazaviti and onThasos in general.

The rightful owners of these museums are willing to offer also the utilization of the dominating building of Kazaviti, the Metochi of the Holy Monastery of Esfigmenou, as a central institute for research and meetings (symposia, workshps, tutorial courses relating to the subject of agro – (and general) history of Thasos, against an adequate financial contribution to its restoration and a respectively adjusted rental fee. This large building, now named Manola „celebrates“ its 200th anniversary this year. It was inaugurated in 1807.

The study, collection and preservation of Thasian crops and fruit trees (genetic diversity in local agriculture) as well as the establishment of a breeding centre for rare and endangered varieties of farm animals (also from other parts of Greece) would enhance greatly the scientific and conservation potentials and would add considerably to the attractiveness of the Park for (paying) visitors.

The First Steps… Lease of common (=kinokristo) land by the charity KALLIERGIA (especially the common land of the gorges); restriction of permissions for roads, buildings etc. which would affect the project in a clearly negative sense; initiation of Stage I:

Priority should be given to the location Paleoambeli and the two gorges (especally the northen gorge at the location Kryonero).

Walkways have to be prepared and sign boards (including fire precaution measures), demonstration plots, educational trails and other touristic facilities installed (like waste disposal containers, toilets, resting places). Cultivation of local (endemic) varieties of vegetables and fruit trees should be initiated on limited plots.

Within the village the first of the two museums should be established. A brochure describing the programme as a first guideline will also be needed in this initial phase.

Endorsement of the Proposal: We, the legal representatives of KALLIERGIA request the Councils of the Dimos Thasou and of the Nomarchia Kavalas to evaluate the proposal and take a decision endorsing its implementation in principle and nominate individual representatives with whom we may discuss further procedures.


The Chairperson … (name and signature)

The Vice Chairperson … (name and signature)

The Secretary … (name and signature)

At Kazaviti on …. (date)

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This entry was posted on Juni 25, 2010 at 10:59 and is filed under Kazavition.

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