Friday, May 8, 2015

Nature Park Proposal: Phaliriko Delta - gathering of naturalists

The Moschato Coast at Phaliriko Delta: 160 bird species is an urban biodiversity hotspot!

May 8th 2015. Phaliriko Delta at Phaleron Bay, Athens

After forming a facebook group, discussing situations with many key environmentalists, the initiation of our campaign is nearly at a plateau. We need to move into a strategy phase. The good thing is that momentum has been quite good so far. Fortunately there is a genuine interest by some really great environmentalists who know about biodiversity and restoration potential.

We are now being specific: What we envision, the future desired state. The vision for a nature park; actually a partial wetland regeneration. We do not want a "hybrid park" (i.e. a typical over-build sea-side park with a tiny piece of nature). We do not want a typical urban park or a riviera development.

The most important aspect of this area is the Moschato Coast. This piece of "infill wetland and coast" is the land between the Kifissos and Ilissos River. It now belongs to The PUBLIC PROPERTIES Co. (PPCo S.A.), a corporation with the mission of developing and managing the private state-owned properties. The company is 100% owned by the Greek State and is supervised by the Ministry of Finance. Would they want at Nature Park?

Also the surrounding municipalities of Kallithea and Moschato also have a serious say. Would they want a nature park?

Another promising development, and to be completed by 2016. is the amazing Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) which is being build right across the street beyond the old Olympic Games facilities. Would these kind neighbour's want a nature park?

In our minds, as conservation professionals, there is no question really - this prime waterfront property must be developed in a way that gives-back something to the landscape, to the historical significance of the Athenian coast, to nature and culture.

Please keep in touch....

View from the Ilissos river mouth. 
Right next door to the proposed Nature Park is a phenomenal undertaking by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation- SNF (and all these cranes working are an exciting surprise in a city living in economic depression!). The Foundation is supporting the development of the National Library of Greece (NLG), the Greek National Opera (GNO), and the 170.000m2 Stavros Niarchos Park. As Athenians we can only thank SNF for this generous gift to Athens, approx. €566 million.  We hope they will like the idea of a nature park right next to such an over-built coastline. 

Sunset at Phaleron Bay. We even spotted a Loggerhead Turtle today....This sheltered inner bay is rich and productive since two river estuary here. Part of the main reason for the biodiversity value of the Phaliriko Delta. 
These are the former plans for the Moschato Coast of Phaliriko Delta. "Green" but over-built and complicated, crowded and sterile in a biodiversity sense. Completion of this "rehabilitation" project would cost upwards of 250  million so the idea was trashed by the ruling government (and the economic depression). The Nature Park idea in contrast is simpler but actually quite specialized : design "nature infrastructure" for flood control, wetland restoration, education, nature-recreation, awareness and biodiveristy. 

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