Wednesday, November 13, 2019


The area of Schinias has changed remarkably since the 1920’s, due to human pressures. The development of the area through non-friendly environmental methods and the lack of an integrated program for the protection of the ecosystem has led its ecological features to degradation. More specific the wetland not only has downscaled but also deteriorated, the forest hasn’t regenerated. The only area that hasn’t affected at all is the peninsula of Cynosoura.
The first great intervention in the ecosystem took place in 1923 when an irrigation ditch was constructed so that the water of the spring of Makaria passed through it and ended up in the sea, and as a consequence the wetland did not accept water. Despite its degradation, the wetland continued to host remarkable birdlife even if it was according to the period and so the area hasn’t lost at all its ecological importance. In the meantime more drainage constructions were made in order the wetland to be drained.
The first attempt to build the area began in 1923 when a land between the forest and the wetland was allocated to the refugees from the Asia Minor. A settlement was established named Kato Souli. Since the 1960’s the allotment has proceeded quickly.
The NGOs at the beginning of the 1970 began to study the area of Schinias and discovered its significant ecological importance. Their efforts orientated afterwards to the protection of the ecological regime. This task proved to be rather ineffective, for this half of the wetland was used as an airport and a base of communications from the Americans. Other factors that prevented the protection of the area was the illegal hunting, the illegal garbage and debris deposition and the illegal removal of the beach-sand. At the end of the 1980’s the area was enlisted in the catalogue of the Corine program and in the 90’s inserted in the scientific catalogue of the Natura network 2000.
During the time Greece was claiming for the Olympic Games, the Committee suggests Schinias for the construction of the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Center. The Committee votes for the semi-drained wetland to construct the lake. The Hellenic Organization for the protection of nature sent a letter to the President of the Committee explaining the ecological value and importance of the area. Given the ecological concern of the Committee, a project office was hired to carry out a study for the settlement of the lake having in my mind that the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Center should definitely be in Schinias. It must be taken into consideration that Schinias was the only place nearby Athens with so huge amount of fresh water.
Finally the Ministry of Environment established the National Park of Schinias – Marathon in 2000 by presidential decree and divided it in eight Zones of protection as given below:
1. Zone A1: wetland
2. Zone A2: Drakonera hill and the peninsula of Cynosoura
3. Zone A3: Aleppo-pine forest
4. Zone A4: Makaria spring
5. Zone A5: marine area
6. Zone B1: the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Center
7. Zone B2: area of residences, recreation and sports
8. Zone B3: the beach
The Management Plan and the Regulation were approved in 2001 and the Greek state established the Management Board in 2002 also by presidential decree.
The whole project aimed to restore the regime of the wetland in the situation before the drainage that took place in 1923 through stable water feed from the Makaria spring. This was among others the main compensatory benefit for the natural environment against the construction of the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Center
The results of the whole project only as positive effect towards the natural environment should be considered. The water coming to the wetland through Makaria spring increases the level of the water in the wetland and reduces its salinity with remarkably positive effects on the birdlife. Τhe conditions are really favorable for increase of biodiversity and the development of a lake ecosystem of ecological interest.


November 2019
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