Sunday, November 29, 2015

Alyki Anavissos Wetland: At conservation-development crossroads?

Alyki Anavissos Wetland (Anavissos, Attiki)
Public meeting on 28th November 2015 

Locals and volunteer environmentalists held a public meeting yesterday in Anavissos; about 60 concerned citizens showed up. The future of the wetland is at stake: The former salt pans are public property that is being held by government in a special "land-fund", probably aiming towards "develop"(the Korission Lagoon dunes of Corfu are in a similar predicament...). Greece is in a great depression, could this be used as an excuse to sell-off Alyki Anavissos Wetland? 

Most locals and many Athenian citizens I think are against this sell-off. After all this site is a designated wetland protected area (enacted in July 2014). And the area has seen long battles by concerned citizens to stop concrete-based development on this site in the past.  

The Hellenic Ornithological Sociaty (HOS) know the site for many years but no in-depth study has ever been done. This year, 2015, was special because certain locals and Athenian naturalists flocked down and started to carefully document the wildlife and flora of this site in a systematic manner. A radiant young lady by the name of Ira Theofilou took photos of birds on site during repeated visits (she is now HOS caretaker for the site). The co-author of "Birds of Attika", Lefteris Stavrakas, was on hand to help with documentation.

Other locals, such as super-volunteer expert Mania Vranopoulou and some notable Athenians who live here or have holiday homes here, have also really taken care to research the status of the "property" and to work for conservation. Dimitris Klouras - what I would call a supreme environmental lawyer - has a deep knowledge of the legal situation and the history. Professors, archaeologists, school-teachers, artisans, artists and some non-discript good people....have shown a real interest and seem really engaged in this campaign.  

But here is a delima for some locals: Should we support "passive development" (so-called ήπια ανάπτυξη, meaning compromise...) or all-out nature conservation (i.e. the creation of a Nature Park). Most people at the meeting promote the idea of a Nature Park.

For more info on the wetland and my views on this issue look at:

Here I have asked Ira Theofilou for posting permission (quite a while back actually) to share her amateur photography on this blog. It documents some amazing birds in amazing habitat conditions at Alyki Anavissou - all photos taken by her are on-site in 2015. Few would believe this kind of natural environment and birdlife at Alyki Anavissos- yet it really is there..... And many of the birds, other wildlife and flora are really rare and scarce in the surrounding area. They really depend on this small wetland. ...Lets see what happens in 2016....

Water Buttercups (Ranunculus cf. aquatilis complex) grows in wonderful sheets on the shallow pools in spring. This is one of the few sites in Attika to host this habitat type. Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Little Egrets.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Glossy Ibis.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

 Squacco Heron (L). Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

 Common Sandpiper. Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Little Egrets.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Migratory waders.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Gull-billed Terns - really scarce species in Attika.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Black-necked Stilts.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Yellow Wagtail. Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Black-crowned Night Heron.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Ruff with Wood Sandpipers.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Little-ringed Plover. Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Grey Herons.  Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Common Shelduck. Really rare species in Attika. Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

Common Shelduck on semi-natural vernal pool habitat and rush-beds. Photo by Ira Theofilou (Spring 2015). 

28th November 2015: The public meeting was held in a tiny school-house which is now a community center run by the Aristodikos Society. There was a wonderful video presentation by Christos Kotsireas. Photo taken by yours truly (rather embarassing actually). 

28th November 2015: HOS super-birder Lefteris Stavrakas and Ira Theofilou (at center, L of video camera) do a wonderful team effort of explaining the ornithological richness of Alyki Anavissou Wetland.

Note on the English site name: I chose to call the site "Alyki Anavissos Wetland". In Greek it is called Αλυκές Αναβύσσου - Αλυκές, salina salt pans being plural. Some Greek-speakers also call the site Αλυκή "Alyki". This is common in salina wetlands in Greece -where both Alyki an Alykes is used for the same site.  I think Alyki Anavissos rings better in English. Anyway...

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