Category Archives: Environment

Mountain Parnitha today

In a few days, on June 28, there have been six years since the fire on Mount Parnitha; a fire that destroyed 36.000 acres of forest and within just a few days turned a natural paradise into hell. During these six years many things happened. Being then in better economic conditions, the State, individuals and thousands of volunteers approached Parnitha with love, donated equipment, offered their work, helped the safeguard of the saved areas as well as the re-growth of vegetation in burned areas.

Many Athenians have visited Parnitha and Tatoi for the first time, discovered their beauty and returned. Unfortunately, however, the growing popularity of Mount Parnitha doesn’t seem to be accompanied by a real change in people’s attitude. Even today, people cross the burned grounds in order to set up barbeques within the remaining forest and they leave their garbage next to the overfull trash bins instead of taking it with them…

“After the fire and those early interventions for soil containment, one of our most priorities was the redevelopment of the plant nursery of Agia Triada which had been burnt. Only the first year it has been done planting of Cephalonian fir from Vytina; thereafter, the seeds are collected from Parnitha and the saplings grow  in our nursery within their own physical environment. Today, 300.000 saplings of Cephalonian firs are growing in the nursery, when they reach the age of 3-4 years transplanted in the Mountain’s areas from October to February every year with the help of volunteers”, Mr. Dimopoulos, Chairman of the Management Body of Parnitha National Park, says.

However, the dozens of burnt trees are still standing there. Why haven’t they removed? “It was a political decision. But from the scientific point of view that was a mistake. The burnt trees are sources of contamination for the healthy forest as well as fire hazzards. Now nothing can be done because if machinery enters the forest, the saplings planted during the reforestation will be destroyed”.

As weird as it may sound, the destruction gave the chance to many Athenians to get know Parnitha. “In the last year, due to the economic crisis, the number of visitors has  dramatically increased. We didn’t expect this and now we face the urgent need to manage such a crowd. But despite the destruction, people haven’t learned yet some basics. Do you know how many come in the heart of the forest for barbequing, even with 6-7 Beaufort wind? It is just common sense, we shouldn’t chase them. Also, I regret to say that the number of the people coming and abandoning their dogs on the mountain has been increased. The dogs that manage to survive are gathered in herds and become dangerous”.

The economic crisis has undoubtedly affected all the Management Bodies of protected areas, even of Parnitha, which is of the most “privileged” in terms of staff and equipment. “Lately we have problem with the refueling of vehicles because the gas station attendants ask for cash but the public sector follows other procedures. Our resources are limited. Let’s hope that with the help of the fire brigade and the volunteers everything will be fine”.

Public Βiofarms

Pilot projects on organic farming by residents of different cities for personal use in municipal gardens and the creation of local vegetable gardens is an innovative idea, a dream that seems elusive, but it slowly finds strong supporters in Greece, as in many cities of other countries. This is an action that creates islets of team work and can bring together people from different backgrounds, ages and cultures, while it provides exercise, relaxation and creative activities. It is an excellent opportunity for people to save money and come into contact with nature and biological products.

These small “farms”, from 50 to 100 square meters, will be allocated to people with low income, low pensions, families with many children and needy for 2 years with a renewal option. In this way vulnerable groups will have the opportunity to increase their income, us they will not need to buy the vegetables for the family’s table.

The first three cities to embrace the program are Alexandroupolis, Edessa and Thermi close to Thessalinoki. Specifically the City of Alexandroupolis will become the first municipality to own an organic farm for the poor, according to a report in vima.gr. The municipality of the city in the spirit of the times, focuses on creating an organic farm in an area of 7 acres, sited in about 20 minutes’ walk from the city center.

The municipality from its part will provide the machinery, the tools, the seeds and the technical support, while an agronomist will be at the farm to provide the necessary knowledge and information. As it has been pointed out by competent agriculturists, the only obligation of those selected is to cultivate the garden and give 10% of their production to the community grocery store that the City will create. The other two cities are going to follow in a similar philosophy.

Agro Ecology

Agro ecology is a scientific discipline that uses ecological theory to study, design, manage and evaluate agricultural systems that are productive but also resource conserving.

The manufactured products from “agro ecology”, the so-called “organic products or biological products”, are not synthetic and are produced without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or hormones, but with environmentally friendly methods of production. The application of ecological (organic) agriculture contributes to the environmental protection, the safety of the producer and consumer, while endures the production of quality products, which is important, since the quality predominates in today’s competitive market.

According to a U.N. report (Olivier de Schhutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food), many farmers in developing nations can double food production within a decade by shifting from chemical fertilizers and pesticides to ecological agriculture.

Insect-trapping plants in Kenya and Bangladesh’s use of ducks to eat weeds in rice paddies are among examples of steps taken to increase food for a world population that the United Nations says will be 7 billion this year and 9 billion by 2050. “Agro ecology” could also make farms more resilient to the projected impact of climate change including floods, droughts and the rise in sea levels that has already made fresh water near some coasts too salty for use in irrigation.

Spring recycling time


Spring has arrived and the general “tidying up” of our seasonal items is a good opportunity to recycle rather than throw away. In addition to saving useful storage space, we activate our environmental consciousness. We may have more things in our home that we can recycle than what we even realize.

Batteries

Instead of throwing the used batteries out, we must take them to the nearest recycling battery bin (supermarkets, banks, shops, etc).

Boxes/containers

Favorite method of storage, useless boxes do not very often lead to recycling bins, but to conventional trash bins. However, we should attempt to put our paper items into recycle bin as clean as possible (e.g. do not throw away pizza boxes with food residues), helping that way both in the sorting of paper and the correct result of recycling, because paper recycling is water based while plastic, metal and glass recycling is based on an extreme heat process and it will not make any difference if there is any dirt.

Wine Corks

Recycled wine corks can be made into a multitude of products: flooring tiles, car gaskets, packaging materials, building insulation products, bulletin boards and even sports equipment.

CDs / DVDs / Tapes

Who doesn’t have such items forgotten or sitting around his house? You have several options. Most local or children’s libraries will happily accept these items, if you donate them to them .A lot of Best Buy stores or Second Hand stores also have places or kiosks for these items.

*And to learn what happens elsewhere, (USA):

Paint cans

Half-full, old, useless, empty or else might be another rubbish bin in our warehouse. In many U.S. states there are paint recycling centers where manufacturers can mix together paint from different cans and then sell them cheaper than the paint we normally would buy. Many states (for example, California) have lists of recycling paint retailers, so every one can find one near by. Always keep in mind, when we are buying paint, to look for low-VOC and lead free paints.

Prizes

Everyone might have a box of old trophies forgotten somewhere in the house. Our Total Awards & Promotions (www. awards mall.com) is a recycling program for charity. They also make some of their own rewards using recycled glass and newsprint.

Expired medicines

Citizens with $2.99 can buy a specially designed envelope, available in any fund of pharmacies to place, seal and mail medicines no longer used to an approved incinerator medicines for the safe and environmentally friendly destruction. The files remain sealed and incinerated and the ashes of burned are used to produce building materials for the construction of green buildings and non-landfills.

What is Ecological Footprint?

Have you ever thought about the ecological footprint of a banana, of washing dishes or having a cup off coffee?

Do you know what the ecological footprint is?

The first academic publication on the term “ecological footprint” was made by William Rees in 1992. As a concept and method of calculation was developed by Mathis Wackernagel in his doctoral dissertation, supervised by Rees at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. The term is a measure of human demand towards the Earth’s ecosystems. It is the extent of resources required by the human species for subsistence and to absorb waste.

More specifically, the ecological footprint compares the human demand on natural resources and the capacity of the biosphere to regenerate and reproduce these resources in a similar pace. For this reason we examine the resources which are necessary for the sustenance of the human population and to absorb the waste, in the context of productive land and water areas where they are produced, taking into account the prevailing technologies. Now, the term “ecological footprint” has been expanded and is a general measure of the human way of life, which may include the driving of a car or a company activity, and nature’s capacity to meet any particular standard lifestyle.

The term carbon footprint is a part of the ecological footprint, which measures the emissions from our daily activities, which contribute to worsening the greenhouse effect.

An example of carbon footprint is:

Bananas are a climate-friendly food despite the fact that have being grown thousands of miles from where they are consumed. They are good for athletes, people with high blood pressure, and generally for those preferring a daily energy top-up. There are three main reasons that bananas have such small carbon footprints compared with the nourishment they provide:

- They are grown in natural sunlight, which means that no energy-intensive hot-housing is required.

- They are transported by boats, which emit per kilo only 1% as much CO2 as planes do.

- There is hardly any packaging, if any, because they provide their own.

Unfortunately, annual measurements have shown that the demand of the human species in natural resources is disproportionately greater than it can offer the planet earth. The resources are regenerated slower than the rate at which they are consumed. It is now necessary for everyone to be aware of his environmental footprint in order to raise awareness and understand that as a unit is an integral part of the environmental chain and substantially affects the ecosystem. The columnists, David Rudd and Martin Nowak of Harvard University, argue that if we posted the ecological footprint of each one, then, our desire to preserve our social reputation, would affect positively our environmental behaviour.

Calculate your ecological footprint!

Reforestation NOW!

Εvery summer, Greece is plagued by destructive fires, which sometimes are caused by unscrupulous opportunists and other times are a result of an unfortunate and fatal moment in time. Every summer Greece loses a considerable part of its forests, together with the life that nature unsparingly provides man.

The destructive results of forest fires may not, perhaps, be directly evident to people, particularly to people who live in the city. The truth of the matter, however, is entirely different. When a forest is destroyed, an entire natural ecosystem will be disrupted. That brings about a chain of negative consequences on everything that it is comprised of. Reforestation, therefore, is an imperative necessity.

What is reforestation? Who can take part in reforestation efforts and when are these carried out? There are two types of reforestation: natural and artificial. Natural forestation is a type of self-defense system that forests implement against fires that are caused by natural causes. Mediterranean ecosystems belong to those ecosystems that for thousands of years have been responsive to environmental conditions, managing fires and having the capacity to regenerate after fires. When a forest is able to heal its wounds by natural means, it should not be reforested by artificial means, because this will hinder the natural development of the vegetation.

In the case, however, in which a forest sustains repeated fires, more than twice within a period of five years, the natural ecosystem sustains substantial degradation and, thus, the possibility for natural reforestation is lost. This is when artificial reforestation comes into play. The competent forest services of the region that will be reforested are responsible for taking the initiative. People’s sensitization, however, always works as the driving force of this initiative. The decision for reforestation must always be taken by scientists who will be responsible for the project’s planning and supervision. The appropriate time for the implementation of reforestation projects is between the months of October, November and March, in other words the period that is characterized by heavy rainfall, so that the new trees can develop strong roots, absorb the necessary nutrients from the soil and have ample water. Particular attention must also be given to the selection of plants and trees that will be planted so that reforestation can flourish.

There are many reforestation volunteer groups in Greece, such as, for example, the “PENTELI SOS VOLUNTEER GROUP” that usually target specific regions that have been destroyed. What we have to understand, however, is that reforestation is not a procedure that lasts one day, one week or one month. Reforestation is a procedure that requires the development of sensitivity towards and a philosophy regarding the environment. Such an important work should not be treated as sensationalism that always follows a catastrophe but rather as the long-term cultivation of an environmental conscience with strong foundations.

*source: in.gr > rural tourism