Greece’s wetlands under threat, according to Goulandris report

THESSALONIKI – Toxic industrial waste pours into the River Asopos. Solid and liquid waste ends up in Lake Xirolimni in Rhodope. The River Pinios is a receptacle for household waste. Sand scooping is destroying the Bogdanas stream in Mygdonia and the upper Axios. Bulldozers are threatening the lagoon of Almyra in the Avdira municipality. Excavations are proceeding in the Gallikos riverbed. The forest by the lake of Kastoria is shrinking, as water sports detrimental to the environment are being developed in Paralimni, Viotia. At the same time, the bridge over the Halandra seasonal river at Eressos, Lesvos, was wrongly approved while a fish farm was illegally moved to the wetland of Bourboulithras at Volos. These examples, gleaned by the Greek Biotope/Wetland Center (EKBY) at the Goulandris Natural History Museum, starkly reveal the threats to the nation’s wetland wealth. World Wetland Day, February 2, was occasion to take stock of actions to protect its wetlands and fulfill its obligations under the Ramsar Convention. «The Greek State has made noteworthy progress in the question of restoring wetlands. Unfortunately, the great majority of our 400 wetlands are suffering from a lack of preventive measures, resulting in thoughtless and illegal acts such as land encroachments, badly designed development works, and overuse,» said Alexandros Gerakis, emeritus professor of ecology at Thessaloniki University and president of EKBY’s executive board. Three of the 10 Greek wetlands of international importance (the Evros delta, Lake Kerkini and the Prespes lakes national park) have been left off the Ramsar Convention’s black list. The wetland in the worst state is Lake Koroneia, in danger of irreversible destruction due to the reckless pumping of water and industrial pollution. Despite the lack of programs to monitor wetland threats, EKBY, one of the Mediterranean’s four wetland centers, provides practical support to protected areas such as Vai on Crete, Mount Athos, the Nestos and the lakes of Heimaditida, and Zazari.