Early May 2014 - Preparing for a Trip to Samothraki
Samothraki Nature Observatory – Παρατηρητήριο Σαμοθράκης: A scientific network to support nature conservation on Samothraki
Samothraki is an island on Greece’s northeastern Aegean frontier with renowned cultural landscapes and a rich biodiversity. The island needs immediate 'attention' to better develop nature conservation and steps towards sustainable development. Samothraki has certain environmental problems associated with poorly planned development that impact the natural environment. Unfortunately, these pressures and problems have been poorly addressed despite steps taken to create protected areas on the island (Natura 2000 site). Generally, sensitive local residents and academic visitors are aware of the major problems impacting the natural environment on the island; these include: overgrazing, water resource mismanagement, poorly planned building, distasteful architecture developments, uncontrolled sprawling touristic development, wetland exploitation, forest mismanagement, wildlife poaching and overfishing. Samothraki should take advantage of its natural heritage and biodiversity but this must be done with care based on scientific understanding and direction.
Despite the above anthropogenic threats to the island’s nature, Samothraki still supports a rich and wild character. This has attracted scientists and research groups to the island who have studied various aspects of nature and culture for many years now. Our group at IMBRIW - HCMR has proposed and made initial steps towards the creation of a linked network of scientists and residents who will promote conservation on Samothraki; we are calling this loose scheme "The Samothraki Nature Observatory- Παρατηρητήριο Σαμοθράκης". This is moving ahead since we have established collaborations with other academic forces and have a memorandum with the Samothraki Municipality. We already have one PhD Candidate dedicated to making Samothraki her research case-study area and our aquatic research work is taking place within a long-term research framwork (see: http://imbriw.hcmr.gr/en/samothraki-island-lotic-ecosystems/).
Of course, as aquatic scientists our research aspect must necessarily focus on studying the island's "waters"; that is, all aspects of assessment, conservation and management of waters, aquatic, semi-aquatic ecosystems, and river basins.
Main aims of the Samothraki Nature Observatory scheme, as we see them now, are as follows:
1. Promotion of scientific research actions and long-term monitoring of the natural and cultural environment aimed at providing useful and practical guidance the conservation and rational management of the environment.
2. Promotion and support for the completion of an integrated protected area on the island; the creation of the so-called “Samothraki National Park" - a vision which will upgrade and integrate current poorly-managed protected area frameworks.
3. Creation of an international 'arena' and 'retreat' for the support of researchers and research groups on the island. Within the "Observatory" initiative we are planning to help support visiting researchers and promoting education and continuing education programs in close association with the local authorities and local community in the future.
This is an "idea" that is developing....Perhaps as our collaborations with others grow, more aims and organization will enter the Samothraki Nature Observatory scheme. A physical weakness is that we do not live on Samothraki - so our scheme is necessarily a linking of visitors, friends of the island.
This month, the IMBRIW team is meeting with Austrian colleagues in Samothraki. We hope to discuss how this scheme can grow. Good Luck!
We recently published our initial stream assessment compilation for Samothraki based on our past studies and experiences on the island; this paper is available at:
Here I provide some of my photos from our research stay during August 2013. More posts have also been made in this Blog, please search them out.