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Laureate 2019

Natural Park of Covam Paul & Ribeira de Torre (Cabo Verde) © Instituto do Patrimônio

The 2019 UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes was awarded on 18 November to the Instituto do Património Cultural in Cabo Verde for its outstanding contribution to the safeguarding, management and sustainable development of the Natural Park of Cova, Paul and Ribeira da Torre.

Cultural Heritage Institute - Natural Park of Covam Paul & Ribeira de Torre
Cabo Verde

The Natural Park of Cova, Paul and Ribeira da Torre is an emblematic example of Cabo Verde’s Mountain wetlands and one of its most important agricultural ecosystems. The Park is dominated by a volcanic crater (Cova), forest areas, steep peaks, deep valleys and cliffs overlooking the sea. Over time, people found ingenious ways to adapt to this particular landscape creating a network of local roads and paths, as well as soil conservation and irrigation infrastructure. The management of the natural park has been guided by the commitment and involvement of the park’s inhabitants, ensuring the sustainable use of resources. The local community is a key partner for the Instituto do Património Cultural in monitoring and fighting fires that periodically break out in the park.

The Instituto do Património Cultural has a long history of valuable contributions made toward the safeguarding, management, and sustainable development of Parc Naturel de Cova, Paúl et Ribeira da Torre. Previous actions aimed at the safeguarding and enhancement of the cultural landscape include the recovery of irrigation channels, reservoirs, terraces and retention dike, planting campaigns carried out through partnerships with local communities and resulting in the ongoing multiplication of endemic species, the adoption of management and ecotourism plans, and the creation of a volunteer Fire Brigade to help combat recurring fires, among others.

In addition, the prioritization of traditional management measures through collaborative community approaches brought about the protection of crops, the covering of traditional houses, and the reinstatement of agricultural terraces and irrigation canals.

The Ceremony

The award ceremony took place at UNESCO Headquarters in the presence of the Minister of Culture and Sport of Greece, Styliani Mendoni, and the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.

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