The River Valleys’ project

Laona Foundation / The River Valleys’ project

Project objective:

To arrest the environmental degradation and economic decline of the rural area concerned, by preparing an integrated plan of social and economic development for the area, based on principles of sustainable management and conservation of the area’s natural resources. Also, to refine this plan, so as to develop a model of more general Mediterranean applicability, given that the study area is typical of the eastern Mediterranean basin.

Project duration:

3 years, 1999-2002.


38 professionals of various specialties offered their services to the project.

International partners:

Two: Environmental Group of Sitia, Crete and Stavroupoli Municipality, Thrace.

Project cost:

CYP174.338   €297.339

Main sponsors:

European Commission: D.G. Environment, A.G. Leventis Foundation, Committee of Riverside Communities of Ezousa, Xeros Potamos and Diarizos.

No. of villages and population:

Seven villages with a total population of 1177 residents (1999).

Project plan area:

86 km2

Project tasks/deliverables:

  1. Developing an inventory of resources (socio-economic and environmental) on which to base the formulation of an Action Plan and to develop such a Plan.
  2. Developing an effective management-network scheme to ensure the project’s implementation and monitoring.
  3. Cooperating with agencies in the east Mediterranean to refine this work into a model of more general applicability within the region and disseminate it through a publication and a website.

No. of buildings photographed and recorded:

1586 (of which 1200 are traditional).

No. of households:


Habitats types studied in situ:

Eight different types (form riverine to cultivated land) leading to the identification of 61 sites of special ecological interest.

Highest no. of bird species recorded:

34 in almond groves (indicating the importance of cultivated land as a habitat).

No. of meetings held with local people, expatriates and Riverine Committee

21 meetings-presentations at the villages including special meetings with women, young people, children, and expatriates throughout the Project.
At least 26 meetings in Paphos with the Committee for the Development of Riverside Communities.
1 meeting with the Expatriates of Kelokedara in Limassol.


Seminar for contractors and carpenters on conservation methods of traditional buildings, with 50 attendees (June 2000).

Seminar for the presentation of the Project findings, in collaboration with the Environmental Group of Sitia, to representatives of government departments and local authorities, over 60 attendees, Amargeti (November 2001).

Mediterranean workshop with representatives from Sitia (Crete) and Stavroupoli (Thrace) to formulate a common model for the development of rural mountainous areas, 17 attendees, Kritou Terra (November 2001).

Proposals, studies, and publications

5 statistical surveys, 12 sector studies, 3 multi-page texts that make up the Final Report (English-Greek); over 130 maps, 10 proposals with plans for site improvements, 3 proposals for exhibition spaces, coloured brochure in two languages, 1 website, and 1 CD ROM.

Budget cost for implementation of proposals:

Between CYP3.5 – 5 m. over the next ten years (excluding basic state  infrastructure works, such as road improvements).


  • Although the Ministry of Interior appointed an official to coordinate implementation of proposals, the project lost momentum as politicians    changed. However, the communities involved used the proposals in our report and took initiatives to implement them in a community basis.
  • The Ecological Base Line Report remains the most debited for the area.
  • During the Laona survey of upland villages in Paphos in 2017, many more communities asked for a report of the Valleys initiative.