A young student from Greece, based in Chicago, has kicked-off a digital campaign to protect nature and save the Natura 2000 areas of her homeland.
Alexandra Drosopoulou has taken exception to a new law approved recently by the Greek parliament which could potentially allow development plans inside protected Natura 2000 sites in violation of the European environmental legislation.
The law allows for so-called “minimalistic” industrial development within those areas, which Drosopoulou claims would open the door for a total invasion of Natura sites by development plans related to wind farms and other industrial activities.
Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 27 EU countries, both on land and at sea.
In Greece, there are about 446 ‘Natura 2000’ sites, which covers nearly 28% of land and 20% of sea territory.
“The major flaw in this law is that ‘minimalistic’ is a vague term of which any entity can relatively define and which opens the way for a total invasion of Natura 2000 sites by development plans,” Drosopoulou says.
“With the addition of this new law, multiple areas around Greece could be affected, both on land and at sea,” Drosopoulou notes.
The Greek student says that she kicked-off the campaign through a petition in English because “she loves her homeland”.
She tells Greek Reporter that she does not want to see the Greek countryside destroyed by so-called development that does not respect the beautiful countryside.
Natura 2000 in Greece campaign
“In the community that I grew up in Fokida, Greece, the government is trying to build industrial scale wind farms and create projects in these protected areas,” Drosopoulou says.
“I do not have the power to change things by myself, but the least I can do is raise awareness here in the U.S and beyond.”
In March 2021, thirteen environmental organizations based in Greece sent a letter to Greek MPs, the Greek government and the European Union slamming the new law, which they say “undermines the protection of Natura 2000 sites.”
Environmental NGOs ANIMA, Arctouros, ARCHELON, Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Society for the Protection of Prespa, Callisto, Ecological Society for Recycling, Greenpeace Greece and MOm, have requested for the withdrawal of this provision.
They say that law law 4782/2021 also leads to the fragmentation of Natura 2000 sites, and therefore smaller areas are designated for the development of investment projects.