The Kalamos and Kastos sustainable development project

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In the heart of the Natura 2000 GR2220003 site lie the islands of Kalamos and Kastos Both inhabited along with smaller uninhabited satellite islands(provati,fermekoula and some other smaller islets). The main characteristic of these islands that separate them from their surrounding areas is that their waters are still in where very little fish farm cages exist on sea and there is an abundance of green on land . They have been characterised also on land as one of the most important bird areas of Greece by Birdlife International. Despite their great natural beauty and unique habitats such as the pine forest with its dead wood habitats and large range in ecological conditions that shows very high levels of botanical diversity as a consequence on land.Recently the island of Kalamos was confirmed also as the hotspot for botanical diversity in the Ionian islands and a very important botanical diversity hotspot in a global context in general . There is no proper protection other than legislation related to forest protection in general. The potential for habitat restoration on these islands is also immense. This is because of the very low population combined with the currently almost nonexistent agriculture of any form and the principal economic activity being tourism of low impact like yachting and the relatively high educational level of its inhabitants and expatriates. Among other things the Island of Kalamos once harboured a Greek fir forest according to records that we aim to restore in the future along with the natural forest vegetation of the island.

The ecosystems of this area and not just the islands and their surrounding waters are under serious threats from aquaculture expansion and production intensification a process which has been proven to directly and indirectly impact negative on ecosystems beyond repair even at certain levels. Furthermore other activities also threaten these ecosystems like pollution over-fishing due to lack of adequate enforcement of legislation and others.

These islands and their surrounding water however are still in a much more pristine state than any other land or marine area in the vicinity and with a great potential for the future. We host species like the Short beaked common dolphin and the Mediterranean monk seal that are in the IUCN red data book and our islands have several areas of reproduction.

The posidonia sea beds are important habitats and breeding grounds for several species of fish of economic importance like the sardine which currently face issues with direct competition of their breeding grounds from aquaculture due to competition for these sites from the latter. As they are an important source of food, a potential driver of sustainable development following protection and sustainable management of these stock, an important cultural identity feature and finally of unique concern to biodiversity in general it is self evident that they must be more adequately protected.

Current status

The ecosystems both on sea and land are under constant and geometrically increasing threat primarily due to negligence of relevant government authorities, corruption and large corporate interests that seek to turn both the sea and land of our areas into a mixture of large scale wind and solar farms ,industrial aquaculture production zone and tourism driven urban jungle. Indirectly the state has not taken efforts to address our issues thereby over the years creating a situation with examples of land like illegal clearing of forest or fencing with the purpose of doing so being increasingly common. This situation was in fact indirectly catalysed by governments through actions like road building even within undisturbed forest with the excuse of fire protection which served only to catalyse such situations .The most recent legislation characterised this area as industrial aquaculture production zone including areas of forest that with other current legislation could be converted to aquaculture facilities on land thereby completing the destruction.

The vast majority local people have made vivid protests against this and also taken legal measures along with local governments. However the situation is currently worsening and more action is needed soon.

Action plan

So far from public assemblies of the local communities the consensus has been that what is desired is an action plan geared towards sustainable development that respects the natural environment and is aimed towards the conservation of biological diversity

More specific points are as follows

1. Plan to legally and ecologically safeguard the ecosystems of the islands against aquaculture along with the expulsion of a currently existing unit and any associated activity.

2. Low impact and environment friendly tourist development

3. Restructuring of the primary sector on both sea and land by modifying traditional practices based on ecological scientific work with an aim towards sustainability with concurrent restoration of ecosystems on sea and land and especially forest on land as this is currently a prime concern there.

4. Immediate commencement of procedures for the restoration of marine ecosystems and their productive function in relation to traditional forms of fishing.

5. Creation of direct financial gain from activities for the protection of the natural environment and conservation of biodiversity like planting of trees for carbon offsetting and going into the global carbon market or funding for measures like keeping the Kalamos Island pine forest in its current form with the variety of dead wood habitats

We aim to help towards the achievement of the above goals through the creation of a more strict biological reserve on both sea and land within the limits of the historical rights of the local communities as they define it where local people have rights to extract resources under national and international legislation and relevant scientific principles. For this we set the following objectives as described bellow

Goals of the project

The goals of this project long term are as follows

1. Secure all relevant historical rights of use extraction and existence within the geographical area that the people of these islands define as theirs within the shortest possible amount of time. We plan to follow methods from other parts of the world to start legal action at a national and international level if necessary. This is a common tactic to rapidly gain more time and rapidly freeze our case while it is examined by the relevant body either Greek government, EU or United Nations.

2.Legal actions for the immediate removal of the single fish farming unit in our waters put there by central government

3.With an emphasis on the marine environment a series of scientific and social studies with the ultimate aim of building a sustainable model of development and ecosystem management for the next 30 years. Local societies without the participation of local governments will be responsible for this under our help and supervision

4. Extensive habitat restoration on both sea and land with an emphasis on marine habitats. The goal for marine habitats is to be brought back to the state they where in the 1950s using traditional fisheries productivity as a direct measure of this and other appropriate ones. On land we aim to protect and restore as much of the native forest as possible. The use of experts from around the world under the supervision of our organisation and subject to the approval of the local communities directly. The ultimate goal is to produce a functional web of interconnected habitats on both sea and land that will be as close to the pristine state as possible without the presence of humans and that will maximise ecosystem services at a local, national and international level.

To achieve the above long term goals, the following ones that are both long and short term are set:

5. Creation of a voluntary movement of inhabitants for the supervision of and sustainable management of our ecosystems with the assistance of our organisation

6.Training of local inhabitants on environmental awareness and sustainable ecosystem management and restoration and educating about the long term values of it

7.Creation ,administration, management and coordination of a field volunteer program where people from Greece and all over the world following their successful application can come and help with the activities of the organisation as part of the program

8.Creation of income generating alternatives to current environmentally destructive practices in the region

9.Creation and administration of the Kalamos island biological field station where people can come and contribute towards achieving the goals of the program

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