The Melina Mercouri International Prize has been awarded for 2001 jointly to Murjadjo Djebel, Planters' Wood and Old Town of Sid Hourari (Algeria) and the Lygra Heathland Centre (Norway)
The Murdjadjo Djebel, which overlooks the west of the town of Oran and dominates the urban landscape, makes up, together with the Planters' Wood and the Old Town of Sid Hourari, a district of Oran that covers 660 hectares and has nearly 54 000 inhabitants. This urban landscape includes an historical centre of great architectural importance, the Arab-Islamic town having been founded there, as well as green spaces popular among the town's inhabitants, such as the Ibn Badis promenade.For this reason, it belongs both to the first category of cultural landscapes, that of parklands, as well as, and most importantly, to the second, that of a living landscape for the safeguard of which major efforts have been made. The restoration of buildings was the priority given in the nomination dossier, being accompanied by action to stop the destruction of the semi-arid vegetation found in the Planters' Wood. Such action, aimed at reclaiming the fragile habitat at the edges of the Planters' Wood National Park, will enhance the coherence of this urban ensemble of natural and historical interest.
The Heathland Centre, situated on the island of Lygra in a Norwegian fjord, aims, in co-operation with local farmers, to recreate the area's heathland coastal landscape. This kind of landscape, a feature of these coasts for 4 to 5000 years, is "typical of the European Atlantic coasts, being the result of ecological interaction between the human population, the coastal climate, vegetation and livestock". Under threat today as a result both of the abandonment of certain cultural practices and of increased forestation, the present project has led to the re-establishment of this kind of landscape. The Heathland Centre has been nominated in the second category of cultural landscapes, that of evolving and living landscapes, even though this kind of agriculture in Norway today is more related to heritage than it is to economics. It is the Heathland Centre's social role that is most important, its educational and touristic activities contributing to the construction of a European, and not just a purely national, identity.