Keratsini to exploit its open spaces

Keratsini, a district of Piraeus between the port’s industrial area and the dry southwestern slope of Mount Aegaleo, has joined the nearby district of Rendi in its pioneering use of organic gardening methods in its parks and gardens. The second annual conference on «Urban Greenery in an Ecological Context,» held at Keratsini’s cultural center yesterday, reflected the new municipal council’s determination to make a difference in what is a heavily built-up area with very few open spaces. Rendi’s success in transforming its own open spaces in environmentally friendly ways is largely thanks to the efforts of its horticulturalist Anna Katsarou, who has been the driving force behind a campaign to get other local government authorities and residents to adopt organic methods. «Organic gardening is infectious,» Katsarou told the conference, noting the large number of representatives from communities around Attica and even further afield, from Patras and Aigion, that attended yesterday’s meeting as well as last year’s in Rendi. «Every small step is important,» said Keratsini’s deputy mayor in charge of green spaces, Manolis Myrgialis, who foresees improvements in Keratsini taking the form of coordinated action for the maximum exploitation of water resources, organic methods of pest control, the abolition of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, reforestation of the surrounding mountainside, the training and retraining of municipal staff, as well as programs to make schoolchildren aware of the issues involved. «In an area as densely built as Keratsini, space is limited, so we have to make the maximum use of what space is left. For example, the dense planting of trees alongside avenues and in pedestrian precincts, the greening of walls and other concrete surfaces and ‘green corridors’ leading between open areas,» said Myrgialis. What is needed now, he added, is the political will, the ability to mobilize the necessary forces and a readiness to break with past practices and ideas. «Hydrological and forestry studies have all been done on Mount Aegaleo, for example,» he said. «It is time for these studies to come out of the drawer and for all of us to work together.»