Still a living entity despite abuse

The long but so far fruitless struggle to save the river began in 1994 when a presidential decree was issued setting out protected zones along the Kifissos River. Zone A includes the areas up to 50 meters on either side of the riverbed and its tributaries where only farming is allowed but absolutely no construction. Zone B is set aside for farms, homes, recreational and cultural facilities, and sporting and camping venues where construction is restricted. Over 500 violations Eight years later, the Kifissos Management and Restoration Agency was set up with a wide range of powers, including monitoring the implementation of the presidential decree – that is, ensuring there is no illegal construction or landfills and that the environmental conditions for manufacturing and industrial units are observed. «In both zones, over 500 violations were found, including the dumping of rubble and illegal construction,» said Laskaris, secretary of the agency. «The Special Environmental Inspection Service has sent reports on these violations to the prosecutor’s office. As long as the restoration work is delayed, the Kifissos will remain a huge garbage dump. «Astonishingly, despite the major problems the river is still a living entity. A walk along its headwaters is enough for anyone to see how unique the landscape is,» he added. «Despite the crimes committed against the natural landscape, the river continues to support its flora and fauna, at least where nature is still preserved; it still provides the capital with oxygen. Imagine the benefits to the city’s public health if the banks were restored. It would be an enormous green space of about 1,200 hectares, available for recreation, all the way from its source to Nea Philadelphia.»