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Greek scheme to save water is unveiled March 5, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.
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Greece has drawn up a plan to manage its dwindling water resources in a bid to ensure that no area or island in the country is left without access to water in the future.

Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday presented the plan, which contains several controversial elements that include the insistence on the diversion of the Acheloos River and the construction of at least 20 hydroelectric dams.

The plan to divert the Acheloos from western Greece to Thessaly in central Greece to provide water for farmers has already been blocked five times by the Council of State and is opposed by residents in the west of the country. But Souflias says that Greece will need to learn to live with these kinds of projects.

“We have to understand that diversions of water in Greece are unavoidable because in some areas water is readily available and in others there is a large demand for it,” said the Minister.

The water management plan is based on research done by the National Technical University of Athens, which recorded the state of Greece’s water resources.


Athens’ biggest park up for a facelift March 5, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure, Environment, Nature.
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Athens’s biggest park, Pedion tou Areos, near the city center, is set for a 9-million-euro makeover that will include the addition of 90,000 new plants and trees, the renovation of two theaters and the creation of a skateboard park, according to plans unveiled yesterday.

The park covers 23 hectares and is one of the city’s most significant areas of greenery but has suffered from years of neglect and lack of supervision that have led to parts of it becoming a no-go zone at certain times of the day.

However, Athens-Piraeus Prefect Dina Bei has announced ambitious plans to restore the park to its former glory and make it safer for Athenians. Respected architect Alexandros Tombazis has been brought on board for the project that will see more grass and better lighting throughout the park. How the park will be maintained once it has been refurbished is unclear.

New green project for Nicosia’s riverbed March 5, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Cyprus Nicosia, Nature.
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The upgrading of a linear park in Nicosia which includes a lit pedestrian walkway and bicycle lanes along the Pedieos River is expected to begin shortly, with the area set to be transformed into one of outstanding natural beauty.

The first 4.5km of the project was built in Lakatamia as far back as eight years ago. Upgrade plans include two parallel paths, one for pedestrians and one for cyclists over a distance of 18 kilometres.

The project’s architect, Andreas Kyriakides said that the aim is, “to modernise the capital and to give citizens the opportunity to walk in safety and tranquillity.”

The upgrade plans include a further two-kilometre section which needs to be built within Nicosia Municipality borders, specifically from the Agrotis Bridge near the Presidential Palace to the old General Hospital.

According to the architect, “the final goal is to take advantage of the whole passage of the river, which begins at the Tamassos Dam and finishes at Paphos Gate. We would also like to utilise the moat circling the old city so that a truly circular park can be created, which will strengthen the unification of the old town in the future.”

Construction plans are in place with work due to begin shortly. It is hoped everything will be ready by 2009. Tenders are expected to be submitted by the end of March, with the project designed and approved by the Town Planning Department.

It will also be environmentally friendly. “No pollution of the river will be seen during the building works,” the architect assured. Two modern laminated timber footbridges will also be constructed, one in Ayioi Omologites, the other close to the Evangelistria private clinic. Kyriakides said dense growth and private property had hindered progress in Ayioi Omologites. Special ‘green’ buses will also run through the park, helping both pedestrians and cyclists to cover distance.

He stated that the exact cost was not yet known but would be in the region of several million euros. He thanked Nicosia, Strovolos and Lakatamia Municipalities, saying the project would not have been possible without their help.

The walkway will be flanked by eucalyptus trees, with tropical fish, frogs, and turtles introduced into the river. Rare birds will also be set free.

“We want to take advantage of the river’s location and beauty. The environment is very clean and peaceful there and is will be a lovely in which to go for a walk.”

Greek forests are thriving despite fire February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.
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The expanse of Greece’s forestland is increasing, despite the impact of last summer’s devastating wildfires, according to new research.

Natural regrowth has increased by more than 25 percent in the country’s forests, compared to a rate of 18 percent in the 1950s, said Professor Spyros Dafis of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. “However strange it may seem, forests in mountain areas are becoming denser,” Dafis said. He attributed the development to the disappearance of traditional settlements and the tendency of farmers to feed their animals in stables rather than grazing them outdoors. “There is less pressure on these forests,” he said. The area of Zagorohoria, in northwestern Greece, is a good example: It was virtually bare in the 1960s and is now covered in greenery, Dakis said.

The same does not apply to forestland on urban outskirts, which is dwindling due to increasing construction – both legal and illegal. “Forestland near urban areas or tourist spots has dwindled significantly as the land there is very valuable,” said Ilias Apostolides, a forestry expert.

Builders claim Mount Pendeli November 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Nature.
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Twenty-four building cooperatives are seeking to build on parts of forestland on Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, that were burnt in fires over the summer, according to sources.

Some 940 hectares of forest surrounding residential areas on Mount Pendeli were burnt in August during one of the country’s worst summers on record in terms of brush fires. Construction groups claim to be the legal owners of 1,100 hectares in the area that many of them have bought from the Pendeli Monastery. The transactions, however, seem to be based on gray legal areas, as doubts exits as to whether the Monastery had the right to sell the property.

“During the period 1970-1976, Pendeli Monastery, which claims to be the owner of the land, sold hundreds of lots, each 1,000 square meters, to building cooperatives and private owners,” said Dimitris Stergiou, the Mayor of Palaia Pendeli. “They are now appearing today with contracts for the heart of Pendeli,” he said.

According to sources, the Monastery is claiming ownership of the land; however, the relevant paperwork was burnt in a blaze that took place more than 130 years ago in 1872. A lack of official maps or a state land register is adding to confusion over the ownership issues. The government has yet to protect the areas by legally labeling them as reforestation districts, raising concerns among residents that homes will be built upon the areas valued at about 1 million euros per 1,000 square meters.

Stergiou also said that he is determined to see the area replanted even if it involves court battles with landowners. According to Greek law, even privately owned forest areas need to be replanted if burnt down.

Acheloos protest gathering support October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.
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The campaign against the government’s plans to divert the Acheloos River appear to be gathering pace as a protest in central Athens has been planned for this Friday, the same day that the Council of State will consider another appeal against the project.

Representatives of the Panhellenic Movement Against the Acheloos Diversion met in Thessaloniki yesterday to coordinate action. Its members believe that support for their campaign is growing. «We are still at the beginning in terms of becoming sensitized in comparison to other European countries but more and more people are becoming concerned about water-management issues,» said campaigner Nikos Ioannou.

The government wants to divert Greece’s second-longest river from western Greece to Thessaly in central Greece to provide water for farmers. Authorities and residents in western Greece fear that the diversion will have devastating consequences for them.

Meanwhile, residents from Drama in northern Greece also expressed concern yesterday about the levels of pollution in the River Nestos. They believe that large amounts of rubbish are being dumped in the section of the river that runs through Bulgaria as there is a landfill next to the Nestos near the border with Greece. Campaigners asked for the Greek government to speak to authorities in Bulgaria to resolve the problem.

Lethal threat from the north > Recent information revealing the extent to which Greece’s neighbors are contributing to the pollution of the rivers running through the northern Greek regions of Macedonia and Thrace has cast the spotlight on a crucial issue which, in order to be tackled, must be placed high on the government’s foreign policy agenda. Because as correct as it may be to lock horns with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the name issue, it is equally imperative to protect the country from the lethal waste being dumped by our neighbors’ industries, which spills into the Axios River and is causing irreparable damage to the Thermaikos Gulf.

The Axios, Nestos and Evros rivers are funnels for waste from all over the Balkans. Environmental diplomacy must therefore become a foreign policy issue and common rules of environmental protection drawn up. There is enough pollution and destruction of the environment taking place inside the country. We certainly don’t need the imported variety from FYROM, Bulgaria, Albania and Turkey.

Mount Hymettus protection issue boost October 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.
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Government holds talks with local authorities on protection of mountain

Efforts to protect areas of Mount Hymettus, east of Athens and burned by wildfires in the summer, received a boost yesterday when the government held talks with representatives from the 15 Municipalities that border the mountain.

“This meeting is the beginning of a fruitful cooperation,” said Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Costas Kiltidis. “We are demanding the end of any undesirable activity on the mountain, such as quarries, landfills and army barracks, and the implementation of a national park-style management scheme for Hymettus,” said the head of Association for the Protection and Development of Hymettus (SPAY) and Mayor of Vyronas, Nikos Hardalias.