Ionian island paradise under threat

<p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p>                Two Eurasian otter</p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

The Erimitis peninsula is a refugium for a range of endangered species, including ferruginous ducks, dice snakes, European pond terrapins – and the Eurasian otter.

© Hans Glader

The north-east end of Corfu, close to the Albanian mainland, is the Erimitis Peninsula. It has been spared from mass tourism until now and can only be accessed on foot. However, if the Greek government newly elected in 2019 had its way, this would be over soon. The so-called “Kassiopi project” envisages the construction of a hotel, dozens of villas and apartment blocks as well as a marina. This would have devastating impacts on the vulnerable ecosystem. Habitat fragmentation, water pollution, noise and light pollution are just some of the many threats.

But the construction project faces fierce local resistance. A range of the island’s communities as well as Greek nature conservation organisations mobilise against the investors’ plans. For example, the Save Erimitis group informs the people of Corfu and beyond about the disastrous consequences of the construction project. And there is international support. The Mediterranean Alliance for Wetlands, a network of research organizations and environmental NGOs, including EuroNatur, called on Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an open letter of 9 October 2020 to reconsider the Kassiopi project and to adopt conservation measures for the protection of these unique habitats and species in line with international, EU and national law. Protecting the peninsula should not be considered as an obstacle to the island’s development, but rather as an opportunity to holistic development that takes into account the needs and wishes of the local population as well as the requirements of animals and plants.

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