Vast number of illegal interventions lead to degradation of natural environment in the Marine National Park of Zakynthos - negligence from the authorities
Today is the European Day Natura 2000, and with that in mind, the environmental organizations ARCHELON, MEDASSET, MOm and WWF Hellas express their concern regarding the vast number of illegal interventions that have been observed inside the National Marine Park of Zakynthos in recent months, causing serious environmental degradation within the protected region, posing a serious risk to the sea turtle nesting beaches.
In the Nature Conservation Area P3, behind Kalamaki beach – an important breeding site for the Caretta caretta sea turtle – a bulldozer destroyed the protected vegetation of the dunes in mid-March 2018 (Fig. 5, 6). The authorities were informed as soon as the illegal work began but opted to not catch the offenders in the act, allowing for the destruction to continue undisturbed for 3 days.
- Near Gerakas beach, which is an important breeding site for the Caretta caretta sea turtle and within the Nature Conservation Area P2, where any form of construction work is forbidden and therefore no building permits can be issued, two illegal buildings have been constructed in recent months (Fig. 1, 2). The building service of the Municipality of Zakynthos has issued the relevant fines months ago, but has not started the demolition process. The offenders, are indirectly encouraged – by the act of imposing a fine – to “settle” the illegalities, even though it is obvious that the conditions of the relevant legislation are not met.
- In between the nesting beaches of Gerakas and Dafni, within the Nature Conservation Area F1, a 1km long and 6m wide road was unlawfully built at the end of 2015 (Fig. 3). Due to the delays and lack of response by the relevant authorities, not only has the recovery process not been completed, but the illegal works continue to this day, widening the illegal road at various points (Fig. 4).
- Throughout the 2017 summer season, a plethora of beach furniture were placed on the nesting beaches of Gerakas, Crystal and Kalamaki, in violation of the President Decree establishing the National Marine Park of Zakynthos (262 sun beds were recorded in Gerakas, while the P.D. allows up to 120 and 569 were recorded in Crystal and Kalamaki while the P.D. allows for 300). The beach furniture was not removed after sunset, obstructing thus the sea turtles that were trying to lay their eggs (Fig. 7). The local authorities, ignoring the relevant calls of the Management Body for the proper and legal operation of the businesses, with which the Municipality of Zakynthos has signed coastal concession agreements, did not proceed to legal action, citing ignorance of the identity of the perpetrators
- The environmental organizations ARCHELON, MEDASSET, MOm and WWF Hellas that have been active in Zakynthos for decades, aiming to protect the natural wealth of the island, have sent a joined letter to the relevant Prosecutor Here. requesting the immediate implementation of the predicted procedures provided by law, for the purpose of responsibility attribution and, more importantly, for the environmental rehabilitation of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, as demanded by the relevant Managing Authority. The state mechanism must contribute directly and effectively to the protection of the natural wealth of the protected areas of our country.
Panagiota Theodorou, Environmental Conservation Officer, ARCHELON, 6940470194, firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Klauschen, Director, MEDASSET, 210-3640389, email@example.com
Christi Sotiriou, Media Relations & PR Manager, WWF Hellas, 210 3311988 (int. 116), 6947220699
Fig. 1 & 2: Illegal Buildings near Gerakas beach.
Fig. 3 & 4: Opening road between the beaches of Dafni and Gerakas. Illegal work in 2015 (left) and 2018 (right).
Fig. 5 & 6: Destruction of dunes at Kalamaki beach.
Fig. 7: Sea turtle trace that abandoned effort to lay eggs due to the lack of removal of beach furniture in the evening (2017).