SOCIETY

European Day of Parks at Ilion

Since 1999, Europeans have been celebrating the Day of Parks on May 24, in a drive to raise awareness among citizens about the importance of green spaces and to get them out into nature.

With events organized in cities across the continent, Greece is participating this year with a showcase of the Antonis Tritsis Park in Ilion, northwest Athens, where local environmental groups will be organizing a series of educational activities.

According to the European Environmental Agency, the average tolerable ratio of green space per resident is 10 square meters; Athens, in stark contrast to this benchmark, has been estimated to have just 2.5 sq.m. of green space per resident — the smallest amount of green space per capita in the European Union.

Meanwhile, local groups say, government funding cutbacks, coupled with uncontrolled development in many parts of the Greek capital, are putting an unbearable strain on what green spaces Athens already has, and are also putting at risk other important public spaces such as archaeological sites and natural habitats like natural woodlands and streams.

One of the country?s most active champions of urban green spaces, the Greek Ornithological Society, will be taking the lead at the Antonis Tritsis Park on Tuesday, May 24, in a program designed to acquaint both children and adults with the species of birds that nest there and those which stop by on migratory routes. The program includes building and installing birdhouses for these species. Guides will also be talking about the flora that grows naturally in Attica, as well as other species introduced in urban parks.

Running in parallel to these activities are a painting exhibition with studies of birds by Panagiotis Liosis (to May 30) and a display of award-winning bird houses constructed during a student competition (awards will be given on Friday, May 27).

To find out more about the events, log on to http://park.ornithologiki.gr or see www.ornithologiki.gr, a bilingual Greek-English site which also contains details about how to get to the park.