The Deputy Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Mr Nikolaos Tagaras, with an unjustified, unsubstantial and illegal decision decided to modify the boundaries of the wildlife refuge of "Kitros Salt Lake," in Korinos, Pieria.

This ministerial act that shrinks the boundaries of the wildlife refuge is another exercise of lawless "development", with the aim of opening up road for the building of "Olympiad" seasonal settlement and finally "regulating" a project that dates back to the 90s. All this is happening in a unique wetland that hosts a great wealth of avifauna species. With this fraudulent diversion of legislation, but also of logic, the construction of the third largest settlement of Pieria Regional Unity of 6,500 inhabitants is initiated.

The region except for being a wildlife refuge is also a Special Protection Area (SPA) of the Natura 2000 Network (GR1220010), while being in immediate vicinity with the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the code GR1250004 and with the Axios – Loudias – Aliakmonas Delta National Park. However, the deputy minister made a 4,000 acres reduction of the wildlife refuge not taking into account the negative opinion of the area’s Managing Body. At the same time, the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission has started, already from 2013, a preliminary investigation concerning the measures needed for the protection and management of this protected area.

The building of the seasonal settlement would blatantly violate national and European legislation, according to the recent report of the Managing Body that has registered the avifauna, as it will contribute to the destruction of important avifauna species’ habitats, but also those habitats listed on Annex I of 92/43/EEC Directive which have been recorded in the region, thus causing irreparable damage to its biodiversity. At the same time there are no imperative reasons of public interest, as the construction of seasonal settlements cannot be considered as such, by any environmental criteria. Even for those who do not care for the environmental fallout of such a project, it is worth pointing out that the cementification of a wetland endangers the safety of future residents of the settlement in case of a flood.

As organizations, Arktouros, ARCHELON, MEDITERRANEAN SOS Network, Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritadge, Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Callisto, Greenpeace, MEDASSET, MOm and WWF Greece, we demand from the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change to immediately withdraw the decision that modifies the limits of the wildlife refuge of "Kitros Salt Lake", as well as the full taking of responsibility for the failure to take the necessary measures towards the prevention of the degradation and proper management of this invaluable wetland. Carrying out this operation opens Pandora’s box leading to other respective negative actions in other areas of high ecological value and serving short-sighted and detrimental choices for the natural capital of our country. Political options and acts of similar thought, with the recent bill for the seacoast as a typical example, unfortunately monopolize the Greek reality.

The co-signatories environmental Non-Governmental Organizations:
ARCHELON Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece
Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritadge
Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature
Hellenic Ornithological Society
Callisto Environmental Organization for Wildlife and Nature
Medasset / Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles
MOm Society for the Study and the Protection of the Monk seal
WWF Greece

The map above, which was granted by the Axios – Loudias – Aliakmonas Delta Managing Body, illustrates the areas under protection, the modified limits of wildlife refuge and the area occupied by the proposed settlement.

A cement...Olympiad Pavlos

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