The Standing Committee of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats adopted a Recommendation at its annual meeting last week, urging Greece to prevent habitat deterioration and ensure improved protection of Southern Kyparissia Bay. Indicative of the strong European reaction is the call for a permanent construction ban in the area.
The Council of Europe’s Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, is aware of the severe pressures on the habitat due to construction interests since 2010. In July 2014, the Convention visited the area for an on-the-spot appraisal to assess the habitat and document conservation problems. As a result, at its annual meeting last week in Strasbourg, the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention unanimously adopted a Recommendation which is in direct conflict with a draft Presidential Decree (PD) that Greek authorities are currently promoting.
Specifically, the draft PD legitimises illegal interventions that have been made to date in the site, such as illegal roads, and ignores the need to restore nature elements that have been destroyed, as in the case of the dune system. In contrast, the Bern Convention calls for the removal of any illegal constructions and restoration of the natural environment.
The draft PD allows construction with few restrictions behind the core nesting area of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), thus accommodating investor plans to build 47 beachfront summer houses. On the contrary, the Bern Convention calls for a permanent construction ban in this section. It must be noted that the Greek Ministry of Environment has previously ordered a temporary suspension of building permits, recognising in this way the need to preserve the area’s natural features.