More wetlands, nature reserves get protection
Greece will soon have to begin setting a good example in the area of environmental protection. As a start, 25 regions that are either already listed on the Natura program or are wetlands governed by the Ramsar convention are to be listed as protected areas: The Evros delta, the Dadia forest, Lake Kerkini, the Mesolongi lagoon, the Axios-Koudia-Aliakmonas delta, Koroneia and Volvi lakes, the Alonnissos-Northern Sporades National Sea Park, the Nestos-Vistonida-Ismarida deltas, Mt Parnon, the Moustos wetlands, Pamvotida Lake in Ioannina, the Amvrakikos wetlands, the Kotyhi-Strofilia wetlands, the Kalamas and Acheron estuaries, Mt Helmos and the Vouraikos Gorge, the Rhodope mountain range, Karpathos-Saria, Lake Karla-Mavrovouni-Kefalovryso in Velestino and finally the Vikos-Aoos, Pindos, Prespes, Ainos, Olympus, Samaria, Parnassos, Parnitha and Oiti national parks. Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said at the recent launch of the Natura 2000 committee that in order to speed up the process, these areas would be protected by ministerial decrees, not presidential decrees as has been the practice until now. By the end of February, the committee will have submitted a three-year strategic planning program for these regions. In addition, Greece is obliged this coming year to deal with the question of water resources, to incorporate the EU draft directive on water into national legislation and to begin implementing it. Still pending is the question of atmospheric pollution. Last summer, Papandreou announced measures which should be implemented within the coming year if Greece is to fulfill commitments it made in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol.