Protecting the habitat of great significance “Thines Kyparissias” (Natura 2000 – GR 2550005)…… by ploughing the dunes!
The southern Kyparissia Bay has an increased ecological value due to the fact that it constitutes the second most important nesting area of the Caretta Carreta turtle in the Mediterranean Sea, an endangered species according to the 92/43/EOK directive, in need of strict protection (annexes II and IV of the same directive). The value of the section in question is also enhanced by the presence of an extensive dune ecosystem (included in the first annex of the aforementioned directive).
The ecological value of the area and the necessity for protection measures has been repeatedly remarked to Greek authorities by ARCHELON as well as other environmental groups and the European Committee via the “Reasoned Opinion” that was sent to Greece last October.
Six months after the “Reasoned Opinion” and four months after Greece’s official response by which the country made a commitment to take all necessary measures in order to protect sea turtles and the dune habitats, and even though that Greece stands one step before its indictment to European Court with a possibility of an impending sentence, not only has no measure been taken but also the area continues to be downgraded.
The latest habitat’s downgrading incident occurred during the first days of April. Under the command of the company that is the proprietor of large coastal area between the villages of Agiannakis and Elaia, the protected dunes were ploughed resulting in the deforestation of the dune flora!!
Coastal sand dunes are created by the action of sea and wind. Material carried by the rivers is deposited with the help of the sea along the coastline forming sand dunes.
Sand dunes protect the land by acting as a natural barrier to salt water intrusion and sea wind erosion. The sand dune system absorbs the energy of the waves and without this protection soft coastline would disappear rapidly. Even small disruptions in the dune system can cause salt-water infiltration into the ground water, threatening local farmlands.
Although sand dunes may appear to be lifeless, in reality they are home to a multitude of species. Their importance has been acknowledged over the last years and they now are priority habitats for conservation in the European Union. Human activities inducing erosion process are sand extraction, vehicle driving and uncontrolled use of surrounding public or private land.