An informal meeting concerning drystone as an element of intangible cultural heritage was held in Nicosia on 22-23 January 2016. The meeting was organized by the Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO and was supported by the Sofia Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO.
“Drystone” refers to stone construction without the use of mortar as binding material. The element is linked with customs and traditional practices associated with the organization of rural space. It has shaped numerous and diverse landscapes, forming various modes of dwelling, farming and husbandry (i.e. creating terraces for cultivation, delineating boundaries of land, constructing seasonal settlements and shelters, managing water resources in a sustainable way, etc). It is invaluable in preventing landslides, floods and avalanches, combating desertification of the land and enhancing biodiversity. Moreover, it has been used in public works and artistic aspects of the craftsmanship have been acknowledged and accordingly exploited by contemporary artists.
The meeting marked an important step towards the enhancement of a common understanding about the opportunities and challenges linked to the safeguarding and promotion of drystone as an element of intangible cultural heritage, following its inscription on the National Inventories for Intangible Cultural Heritage of the countries concerned.