The residents and visitors in the areas of Giannitsochori Ileias and Elaia Messinias, as well as the ARCHELON volunteers were unpleasantly surprised in the early hours of Tuesday, May 22nd 2018. Two-hundred and eighty motorized vehicles (motorcycles and four-wheeled motorcycles) traversed the beach for 5 hours, destroying the vegetation and dunes. The organizers were present at certain points of the route, indicating the exact route to the contestants, directly on the protected beach and the dunes.
It is widely known that the coastal region of the Southern Kyparissia Gulf is an invaluable coastal ecosystem with sand dunes and is home to more than 1000 Caretta caretta nests each year. This site belongs to the NATURA 2000 network and the terms of its protection are included in specific and general provisions of the legislation.
The race was organized by Hellas Rally, and the company specifically advertised on their website that this year’s organization includes the beach and dunes for the first time. Despite the protection measures in place, in accordance to current legislation, the organizers have claimed that they had received the relevant approval by the local district, the local forestry authority and Ileias’ police department.
This event poses a direct threat to the nearby Caretta caretta nests, to the protected dune ecosystems, as well as a risk and disturbance to the visitors of the beach. Local police authorities refused to assist in the protection of the area, even though they were immediately informed by both residents of the area and members of ARCHELON.
According to current information, the race will be repeated within the next few days – most likely on Friday, May 25th, following the same route. ARCHELON is requesting for the immediate exclusion of the protected beach and dunes from the route, in order to ensure the protection of nature, under the legislation on the protection of seas and the granting of simple, coastal land use, article 13 of the Biodiversity Act and the measures of the Ministerial Decision in force since May 2016 for the protection of the Kyparissia Gulf.
Sevasti Kapota, West Peloponnese Program Coordinator, tel: 6932 285 817
Panagiota Theodorou, Environmental Conservation Officer, Athens, tel: 210 5231 342
The Association for the Protection of the Sea Turlet ARCHELON is a non-profit organization established in 1983, to protect the sea turtle and its habitats. More information on its action can be found on www.archelon.gr