Ramsar Convention and Greece

The Ramsar Convention resulted from a recognition of the importance of wetlands as regions that maintain biodiversity in birdlife. It was ratified in 1975, the year that Greece also adopted it, but since then it has expanded its brief to cover the proper use and management of the entire wetland biotope. «The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitats,» to use its full title, took its shortened name from the town of Ramsar, in Iran, where the first meeting was held in 1971. Today the Ramsar Convention, which now includes 147 states, covers areas totaling 1.3 million square kilometers. Greek wetlands protected by the Ramsar Convention are the Kerkini, Koroneia and Volvi lakes, Little Prespa Lake, the Vistonida and Ismarida lakes, the Rhodope and Porto Lagos lagoons, the deltas of the Nestos, Evros and Aliakmonas rivers, together with those of the Loudia and Azsios, the Mesolongi Lagoon, the Kotychio Lagoon and the Amvrakikos Gulf. All 10 Greek regions have since 1990 been on Ramsar’s Montreux Record as needing protection because they are being subjected to continued deterioration. No management model has ever been implemented that can truly protect beleaguered wetlands. Ramsar’s significance lies chiefly in the fact that it was the first international convention on the protection and correct use of natural ecosystems and not in its executive power. In other words, Greece is at no risk of being referred to any court or being landed with a fine.