Is­land wet­lands to be pro­tected

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A bill to pro­tect wet­lands on Greece’s is­lands has been drawn up by the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry and was put to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion yes­ter­day.

The draft law seeks to pro­tect 368 small wet­lands on 58 is­lands in the Aegean and Io­nian seas. The wet­lands are no big­ger than 8 hectares each. Most (67) are on Crete, fol­lowed by 48 on Lesvos, 32 on Corfu, 27 on Evia and 20 on Rhodes.

The big­gest wet­land is at the mouth of Manikiati River on Evia. It cov­ers 7.9 hectares. The small­est wet­lands are less than 0.1 of a hectare.

The would-be law seeks to ban any kind of con­struc­tion in these ar­eas that is not for the ex­press pur­pose of pro­tect­ing them. It also pre­vents the build­ing of any kind of road through the wet­lands in ques­tion and pre­vents them from be­ing drained.

Farm­ers will also be banned from plant­ing new crops in any area that is des­ig­nated as a wet­land. Ex­ist­ing cul­ti­va­tions, how­ever, will be al­lowed to con­tinue as long as en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly pes­ti­cides and fer­til­iz­ers are used.

In 2004, WWF Greece car­ried out the only study so far on is­land wet­lands and recorded 782 such ar­eas on 75 is­lands.

Most of the is­land wet­lands are coastal and their to­tal area is 45 square kilo­me­ters. Apart from their value for ir­ri­ga­tion and pro­vi­sion of fresh­wa­ter, the wet­lands pro­tect coastal ar­eas from ground­wa­ter salin­iza­tion, ac­cord­ing to WWF Greece an­a­lyst Dim­itris Pour­sani­dis. The wet­lands also host a wide va­ri­ety of plants and an­i­mals.

Pour­sani­dis adds that the wet­lands are ex­tremely im­por­tant for mil­lions of mi­gra­tory birds each year and are crit­i­cal to the sur­vival of en­demic fresh­wa­ter fish species, in­clud­ing the Ladi­ge­so­cypris ghigii on Rhodes, as well as the two frog species Pelo­phy­lax ceri­gen­sis on Karpathos and Pelo­phy­lax creten­sis on Crete, and a very large num­ber of in­ver­te­brates.

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