Patmos has grown greener and more beautiful this year, thanks to the initiative of the Green Patmos Team, a student-run group that carried out one of the most extensive tree-planting operations the Dodecanese island has ever seen.
On October 22, the team of students of the International Baccalaureate (IB) School of Psychico College and scientists from the Benaki Phytopathological Institute, who prepared the environmental study free of charge, planted 2,000 seedlings on the 16 hectares surrounding the Sacred Cave of Revelations, the site where Saint John the Theologian is believed to have envisioned and written the Holy Book of Revelations.
The grove, which was created with older tree plantings between the villages Hora and Skala Patmos and delineates the path to the cave of Revelations, had been hit by a destructive pest. The goal of the Green Patmos Team was to recreate the forest by maintaining the existing plants, while expanding the forest with the plantation of new trees.
The project was spearheaded by one teenager, Yannis D. Dalakouras. The 17-year-old, who is responsible for the charitable and environmental activities of the 15-member student council of Psychico College, and Roberto Silipoti, professor of environmental studies at the IB College of Psychico, are the founding members of the Green Patmos Group. Together, they mobilized another 30 students of the college's IB program, the island's local authorities – such as the municipal authority and the abbot of the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian – and other volunteers to carry out the project.
Aside from the 2,000 trees planted in the dying forest, the group also took care of the young seedlings for the next year. To cover these expenses, the Green Patmos Group conducted a fundraising campaign. Thanks to the sensitivity and willingness to help a remote society of islanders, the campaign attracted a lot of attention and gained wide support. The project was also supported by the non-profit group Aegean Group, the Oloi Mazi Boroume (All Together We Can) campaign and the Regional Authority of the Southern Aegean.
Seeing the work being done by their Athenian peers local students soon joined the efforts, as did their parents. The Green Patmos Group thanked the Benaki Phytopathological Institute, the president of which is Alexander Samaras, and the entomologist of the Institute, Panayiotis Mylonas, for ensuring that the materials used were compatible with the island's endemic flora and fauna. The group also extended thanks to Blue Star Ferries for providing free transportation for the students to and from Patmos, as well as the Scala Hotel for their hospitality and Astoria Travel for helping with transportation on the island.