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Protection for Greek island wetlands

- by Joe Mason

Most holidaymakers in the Greek islands go there for the dry weather and virtually guaranteed sunshine. But many visitors don't appreciate that many Greek islands are on the migration route for birds from northern Europe that are heading to Africa. Valuable wetlands are vitally important for migrating birds as they provide resting points on journeys that can cover thousands of miles.

Now new laws are to be introduced to ban building on wetland areas in the Cyclades islands and to help preserve the existing habitats.

Environmentalists want a total ban on building at 369 small wetland sites in the Cyclades islands.

The wetland areas include Elos Vitali and the Aladinou stream in Andros, Elos Aegiali on Amorgos, Antiparos Psaralyki, Kavouras lagoon in Ios, the creek mouth at Spyritou on Milos and the Thirassia salt marsh.

Protection proposals for Greek Island wetlands include:

  • The removal of all buildings not related to habitat protection and scientific research.-A ban on new roads.
  • A ban on the removal of natural vegetation or introduction of exotic species of flora and fauna, grazing, fishing, fish farming etc
  • For areas already under cultivation only eco-friendly fertilizers and pesticides can be used. There will be patrols and inspections by police and penalties for violations.

Wetlands are areas that are saturated with water, either permanently or more often seasonally. Wetland areas can develop a distinct ecosystem that supports a wide variety of life.

What distinguishes wetlands from lakes is the characteristic vegetation that has adapted to ithe unique soil conditions.

Wetlands can be saltwater or freshwater and they can be swamps, marshes, bogs or fens. They play a number of important roles in the environment such as water purification and flood control.

Wetlands are also considered one of the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life as well as providing important stopovers for migrating birds.