Photo: Mary Hatzaki

Photo: George Kavallis

Land Policy

Text: Danae Tal

An as yet unexplored territory that does exist

Our country boasts numerous islands, probably too many, compared to its size. And yet, for many people, as there is only one mother, so there is only one island –their homeland. And for us, too, here at Parola, there is one and only island, and this is Paros.

It is true that property in Greece is constitutionally guaranteed. All it takes is say “mine” for opinions and arguments to end on the spot. At the same time, land is one of the most valuable assets and a prerequisite for the development of a nation’s wealth. Even more so, an island’s land area is beyond valuable –it is closely interlinked with the homeland’s very existence. As a result, when a plot of land is sold, this means that a part of the native land is sold.

These days, plots of land are being sold without any restrictions. On the face of it, it is a perfectly legitimate process. But, on the other hand, what is going to happen when the vines, the olive groves and the orchards give way to high-end buildings, and native meadows morph into landscaped gardens?

In its long history, Paros has witnessed a series of plunders. So far, whoever passed through this place have laid their hands on both property and people. But now, property is transferred by constitutional right, and people are seized by the notion that money can really measure the value of land, which is market-driven. So, we end up acting the way invaders used to: none of us thinks about what follows.

Common sense suggests that what lies ahead is never easy, human experience says money is never enough, and statistical figures reveal that the island is being devastated by reckless development that is burying it deep into rubbish and pollution, and depleting it of its water reserves, whereas water management and local production should be a priority.

While we know that this is the only native land we have, that this is where we live and where we raise our children, there is no Land Policy in place for the sustainable development of the island and, by extension, no fundamental basis for a management practice that will make the most of our homeland without wrecking it. And, since we are currently holding the aforementioned baton, we’d better keep in mind that our only certitude is that we will eventually have to pass it on to the next generation. But for this to be possible, there will have to be some land left for our descendants to live on.