One of the oldest handicrafts, whose practice has been fading away in the last decades, is being promoted thanks to the Darwin project for the restoration of Akrotiri Marsh.
Soft basketry weaving used to provide substantial financial income to the residents of Akrotiri village. However, since basketry products have been replaced by other contemporary items in recent years, the traditional craft of basketry has declined. Nowadays, very few villagers practice basketry since it is no longer profitable. The plants that make up the raw material for basketry are confined mainly to Akrotiri Marsh and the constant need for raw material as well as their availability contribute to the conservation of the wetlands of Akrotiri, including Akrotiri Marsh.
The Darwin project titled “Restoring Akrotiri Marsh: A flagship wetland in the Cyprus SBAs”, through funding training lessons and the collection of basketry materials, aims at transferring this valuable knowledge to the new generation in order to prevent the loss of this traditional craft.
The collection of plants by locals started on 16 June 2016 and finished on 28 June 2016. The collection of basketry material and the associated basketry workshop as part of the Darwin project is organised in collaboration with Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre which is one of the project partners. The Centre has a long history of contributing to the preservation of basketry by promoting the conservation of basketry-plant habitats, running basketry courses and organising group visits to basket makers.
The Darwin project “Akrotiri Marsh Restoration: a flagship wetland in the Cyprus SBAs” is funded by the Darwin Initiative through UK Government funding to restore Akrotiri Marsh and its biodiversity. BirdLife Cyprus is the lead partner in collaboration with two more partners, the Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre and RSPB (BirdLife partner in the UK). This ecosystem-based conservation project has a duration of 2 years, between April 2015 and March 2017.
More information for the project can be found on the project website on www.akrotirimarsh.org.