Plants have served as source of food and medicines for humans. One of the earliest comprehensive references to the beneficial properties of aromatic and medicinal plants was derived from Aristotle, who in 400 BC gave a detailed list of more than 400 drugs, which are based on plant extracts. For many centuries the therapeutic arsenal included only herbal medicines. The 20th century was marked by rapid advancements in medicinal chemistry and the pharmaceutical industry; however, the last two decades are characterized by an increased shift to natural resources. Nowadays the aromatic and medicinal plants - because of their specific properties– are widely used in the food and beverages industry (flavor and maintenance), in confectionery, cooking, the pharmaceutical industry, the cosmetics industry and perfumery etc. However, in both areas of intervention both citizens and producers are not knowledgeable and have not yet fully exploit the potential benefits stemming from the usage/cultivation of aromatic and medicinal plants.
The aromatic and medicinal plants constitute an important product of significant economic importance for both Greece and Italy, and the development prospects of the particular industry are considered to be positive. However, the penetration level of these products on the agricultural practice is not satisfactory, while both the information and consumption rates lie on the same low levels. Nevertheless, the need of reinforcement of cultivation of those plants is imperative for companies and professionals in order to improve their competitiveness in the international market and limit the uncontrolled collection of wild plants for environmental protection purposes. The cultivation of herbs/trees can effectively help the mountainous and hilly areas, characterized by low productivity / low exploitation (like the areas of intervention) levels, to attract new farmers for new and innovative agricultural production and to enhance the primary sector of the national economy.
The central core of the proposed project is the recording, documentation, demonstration and distribution of the Greek and Italian medicinal plants and trees.