Athens, 17 March 2008
On Sunday, March 16th, in a rare example of public, private and civil society cooperation, some 150 volunteers gathered to clean the beach and forest of Schinias. Under a bright, wind-swept sky, the group managed to clear an area of about 200 m x 100 m, or about 20 stremmata of forest. Although this is a small part of the total area of Schinias, it was a strong start to what many will hope will be an ongoing effort.
The volunteers were all ages and nationalities: Greeks, Americans, French, British, Australians, Dutch, Belgians, Canadians, Brazilians, Israelis, Palestinians, Chinese, Moldovans, Serbians, Koreans and Germans all participated. All shared one common goal: to clean and remove as much garbage as possible, restoring the forest and beach to its native state.
The clean-up initiative was launched by NAVIGATOR Consulting Group Ltd., and co-organised by Athenes Accueil; the Foreigners Club of Nea Makri, Marathon, Rafina and Northeast Attica; the Hellenic-American Democratic Association (HELADA); MIAFYSI International Nature Network; and the Princeton Club of Greece.
Both the public and private sectors supported the effort. The Municipality of Marathon provided a cleaning crew and garbage truck during the day, despite the fact that it was Sunday and the national strike by sanitation workers was in effect. Gr. Sarantis SA donated plastic garbage bags used by the volunteers. Agripan SA provided a tractor and crew for cleaning the beach. Skai 100.3 FM radio, Kathimerini and The Athens News provided invaluable publicity for the event.
Following the clean-up, a picnic lunch was held on the beach. Dr. Kimon Hadjibiros, President of the Managing Body of the Marathon-Schinias National Park, made a short presentation on the goals and objectives of the Park. This year will be the first time that the Park receives funding to employ 3 park rangers, who will work from April to November at Schinias.
The Schinias National Park faces grave environmental threats, as there are not enough funds or resources to properly safeguard the area. Every year, over 1 million people visit the beach, mostly Athenians coming for the day. Ton of garbage and refuse are left on the beach and forest, ranging from food packaging to baby diapers to rusted beach umbrellas and chairs. During the high season, over 1,000 cars enter the park, creating significant damage to the beach and dunes.
Yet perhaps the most dangerous threat is that of fire. Schinias–like Olympia–has benefited from the installation of an automated fire fighting system. Unfortunately this system has never been connected to the municipal water main network due to lack of funds and technical incompatibility. With the high winds and large number of visitors during the dry summer months, a fire could start and spread in a very short time period, causing incalculable damage.
Additional initiatives are being planned: interested people are invited to visit the website www.schinias-friends.org to receive information on future events.
Roll of Honour
We warmly thank all organisations and individuals who participated and contributed to this event. (If you contributed and are not on this list, or know someone who was there and is not mentioned, please email corrections to Philip Ammerman at email@example.com)
Foreigners Club of Nea Makri, Marathon, Rafina and Northeast Attica
Hellenic-American Democratic Association (HELADA)
MIAFYSI International Nature Network
NAVIGATOR Consulting Group
Princeton Club of Greece
Municipality of Marathon
Spyridos Zagaris, Mayor
Manolis Sideri, Sanitation Director
Marathon-Schinias National Park
Dr. Kimon Hadjibiros, President
Donations & Support
Agripan SA, ETEMA SA, John Lewis, Gr. Sarantis SA
Media & Promotion
SKAI 100.3 FM, The Athens News, Kathimerini
Murray Brill, Chris Woodfin, Mandy Veil, Athan Vellanites
Promotion & Dissemination
Philip Ammerman, Philip Dragoumis, Myriam Elice, George Keramitzoglou, Minos Kok, Karen Lee, Steven Medeiros, Alexis Phylactopoulos, Daisy Rodriguez, Charity Moschopoulos
Regina Tassitano, Alexander Ammerman, Christine Ammerman
Lieke & Henske Defize
Volunteers & Participants
Sophie & Stephen Ammerman
Lieke & Henske Defize
Harry & Sue Goldsmith
Shelley & Hercules
Elli & Kassandra Kousouli