«Archipelagos – environment and development» is a private, non-profit, non-governmental orgnization (NGO) originally founded in Argostoli, Kefalonia, in 1991. The NGO is active in the topics of environmental planning, conservation and management of the natural environment, marine and terrestrial. In 2003, an independent branch was established in Athens by members of the parent organization in order to expand activities and facilitate the communication with the central administration.
Our ultimate aim is the conservation of the environment as a total within the framework of a strategy where the conservation of the natural and of the anthropogenic environment, the sustainable use of natural resources, local culture and the economy complement each other. Main elements of this strategy are:
- The preservation of species and habitats in combination with the sustainable use of natural resources
- Environmental education and public awareness at all levels
- The promotion of models of alternative sources of income in ecologically important areas, compatible with the conservation of nature
- The co-operation and the active involvement of the local population, the administrative authorities and the business sector.
- And, generally, the contribution in any way to the efforts for a balanced, integrated and sustainable development
„Destroying the environment is easy. Protecting it is difficult and expensive – but worth the effort Its rehabilitation tomorrow might be impossible.“
Our team, scientists and others, has been working since 1985 without interruption. Beginning with projects for the protection of the Mediterranean monk seal, we soon enlarged our activities with other issues. This brochure summarizes a history of actions for over 15 years – a fascinating travel of action with many success stories though not without its hurdles.
Our activities are financed by:
- EU funds such as LIFE, LEADER+, European Social Fund, FAIR, etc.
- National funds such as ETERPS, etc.
- Funding by other environmental NGOs such as WWF International, WWF Greece, etc.
- Sponsorships and donations
- And a lot of voluntary work/contribution in general
Conservation of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), the rarest of seal species: we implemented an integrated strategy for the first time ever at international level including the critical issue of interaction with fisheries and established scientifically the degree of this damage. We created a network for the collection and evaluation of seal sightings, which has been operating since 1985 without interruption. And we analysed samples from seawater, fish, seals and people for particularly toxic substances such as heavy metals, DDT’s and PCB’s. This integrated strategy was elaborated to a full document in collaboration with the NGO MOm and was later adopted by the Greek Ministry of the Environment and the E.U. Its most important points are now the basis for all conservation activities for the monk seal in Greece.
Conservation of marine turtles: for the first time ever, we monitored over a period of seven years the accidental catches of turtles in swordfish long lines, in collaboration with fishermen.
Conservation of cetaceans: we organized a long-term recording of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in the Ionian, in collaboration with fishermen, other local people and visitors.
Sustainable use of marine resources: we recorded the fish catch in North Ithaca over five years on a daily basis in order to study the status of important fish stocks.
Wetlands: in collaboration with the University of Munich, we recorded the vegetation of the wetland Livadi in Kefalonia and the presence of both species of European water tortoises, monitored the exceptional bird fauna, studied the main threats to the wetland and worked out a preliminary protection scheme.
Sustainable development of mountainous areas: we studied the effects of grazing on firs in the National Park of Mt. Ainos – Roudi on Kefalonia island and developed an integrated strategy for its conservation. We also collaborated with the Athens University of Agriculture in an EU research project dealing with the perspectives of cattle-keeping in the greater area.
Rare and endemic flora: we record on a long-term basis the rare and endemic plant species in the Ionian and elsewhere such as Limonium and Leucojum on the Ionian coasts.
Bird fauna: we monitored the bird fauna on several occasions and coordinated the evaluation of data from many different sources.
Promotion of sustainable types of tourism: we published in 1994 two self-guided walking trails, aiming at thecreation of a network of trails in particularly beautiful and ecologically important areas. Later, some Municipalities incorporated this initiative and created new trails with our help and co-operation. We created and distributed more than 6.000 information leaflets on the natural resources of the Municipality of Sami, Kefalonia. along with a permanent website.
Public awareness and Environmental Education: we contributed to the publication of dozens of articles in the Greek and international press and have participated in British and German TV documentaries. We have distributed more than 35.000 information leaflets about the monk seal along with numerous presentations. We have created informational material for the ecologically important NATURA sites of the central Ionian Sea, have participated in many Environmental Education programmes in schools of Athens and in the rest of the country. We maintain since 1992 an Information Centre in Lourdata, Kefalonia for interested visitors.
Scientific activities: we co-operate with the Universities of Athens, Munich, Portsmouth and Venice, with the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), the Institute of Marine Biology in Kotor/Montenegro and other research institutions. We contributed the scientific documentation for the NATURA 2000 site «Western Coasts of Cephallonia», in co-operation with the Hellenic Center Biotopes–Wetlands and the Ministry of Environment. We published more than 15 articles with our research data in scientific magazines. Recently we mapped the marine caves, an endangerd habitat, along a coasline in Montenegro together with local institutions.