ISLE OF IOS, AEGEAN ARCHIPELAGO, GREECE: CIVILISATION – ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT – ENVIRONMENT TRAINING
Shi Jiaqi   Apr 29.2016

Introduction

Year: 2000

City / Town / Village: Ios

Region: Europe & Former Soviet Union States

Country:Greece

Summary: 

In 1991, the Greek Government Minister of the Aegean Mrs. E. Papazoi, visited the isle of Ios. As the Mayor of Ios Mr. G. Poussaios was taking her on a tour of the island, they stopped at the locality of Tsoukalaria, at a distance of 100 m.from the town, enchanted by the stunning view towards the endless blue of the Aegean Sea. However, they were also disappointed by the sight of an overflowing waste-disposal site nearby. This site had stopped receiving waste since the 1980s, though no rehabilitation work has been under taken.

Reason to Be Selected

They envisioned the creation at that spot of an open-air theatre on the ancient Greek model, constructed out of local stone and marble, and offering an incomparable view towards the sea. It would be a cultural oasis for Ios, where some scholars believe that Homer was born, but also for the entire country. 
Concurrently,the Environment Dept. of the University of the Aegean requested (a request approved by the Greek Environment Ministry) the creation of a programme for the restoration of some (out of 5,000)waste-disposal locations throughout Greece. The restoration is effected by using Mediterranean-type plants adapted to the local arid ecosystem conditions, achieving savings in water and other external agents (fertilizers, pesticides).

Highlights:

The local people and local schools contributed to the efforts of the Municipality of Ios and the University of the Aegean for the construction of the theatre and the upgrading of the area. The result was that the theatre was inaugurated in 1997, the waste-disposal site was restored and monitored by a measurement network, the planting was effected successfully, and-most importantly- the site was developed by integrating the location with the traditional town of the island and the windmills. Future plans include the creation of a Museum of Modern Art on the spot of the former rubbish tip.


Key Dates:

April 1991 - Planning, for the construction of a theatre on the grounds of the rubbish tip. November 1995, July 1996 - Financing approved. May 1997 - Inauguration and first operation of the open-air theatre. February 1999 – Full restoration, upgrading and integration of the area's cultural attributes.

Type of Organization

: Local Authority

FORMER SITUATION

The locality of "Tsoukalaria" was until the 1980s a waste-disposal site for the local inhabitants and for the many tourists that visit the island in the summer(2,000 permanent residents in the winter, 15,000 in the summer). The local people carried the waste to the location on their donkeys. No provision was in place for its burial in accordance with proper sanitary measures. The tip was then abandoned, and the wind helped disperse the rubbish throughout the surrounding area - which became heavily downgraded.


PRIORITIES

The Municipality of Ios focused on the restoration and upgrading of the area through the construction of the open-air theatre and the integration of the cultural attributes, offering a different form of leisure activity to the residents and summer tourists.

For the University of the Aegean, the main priorities comprised the proper management, restoration, upgrading and alternative utilisation of the grounds of the rubbish tip, the recording and use of Greek flora deemed most suitable for planting there, and the monitoring of toxic agents usually found at such sites. 

The schools and local residents focused on removing the rubbish dispersed around the area,on planting, and on maintaining the new vegetation. 


FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES

One of the main objectives of the design and construction of the theatre was that it should play a central role in the cultural network of the island and of the Aegean in general. Along with the traditional town, the windmills, the small chapels, the Archaeological Museum and the impending creation of a Museum of Modern Art and a Museum of Byzantine Icons, they would form a unique combination, rendering Ios one of the main cultural centres of the Aegean. 

The restoration and upgrading of the closed rubbish tip was the driving force for the improvement of waste management conditions, towards limiting environmental problems (protection from the impact of such sites) and towards creating the conditions for its environmental restoration by saving on natural resources (water) and high-cost external agents.

The Greek Environment Ministry supported the Municipality of Ios and the University of the Aegean in their efforts.

MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES

The Municipality of Ios,with the support of the Minister for the Aegean Sea,was able to secure financing for the project via the Environment Ministry. In particular, the construction of the theatre and the configuration of the surrounding area were incorporated in the "Environment" and"Protection and Elevation of Historic Centres, Traditional Settlements and Areas of Special Natural Beauty" projects. The contract between the Municipality of Ios and the Ministry was concluded in November 1995.

The architectural study and the supervision of the construction were assigned to the German Professor of Architecture at Berlin University Mr. Peter Haupt, a permanent resident and a honorary citizen of Ios. The contribution of the GreekPlaywright Association was also considerable.

Work commenced at the beginning of the year 1996. The theatre was constructed out of stone and white marble (abundant in this area) by local artisans, experienced in the use and processing of such materials. 
 
The University of the Aegean, along with the Municipality of Ios, which is active in the restoration, upgrading and monitoring of waste-disposal tips in Greece,including Ios, selected suitable types of vegetation for planting and was able to secure resources from the Environment Ministry.

The plans of the Municipality of Ios for this specific area proved very popular with the inhabitants and schoolchildren of the island who helped in their attainment, via environment training lessons on the part of the students and manual labour on the part of the residents.


PROCESS

There was no access to the closed waste-disposal tip for the vehicles used in the project,since the waste had been carried there on donkeys. Therefore the first stage of the project focused on opening a road providing access to the site. 

Since the waste had not been buried in the proper, sanitary manner and had been dispersed over a wide area by the wind and stray animals, the schoolchildren and the local residents collected the rubbish and transferred it to the current waste-disposal tip of the island. Any remaining waste was covered by a layer of earth towards protecting the environment and planting new vegetation. 

The erection of the theatre on a former rubbish tip did not involve any stability problems to the construction, in view of the long period of inactivity and the thin layer of remaining waste on the ground. 

For reasons of sanitation, the toilets of the theatre site were constructed separately,using the same local materials and architecture.


The participation of the Municipality of Ios in the project was decisive, including the actions taken to secure financing for the greater part of the project, the co-ordination of the various participants, and overall supervision. 

The contribution of the University of the Aegean focused on the scientific part of the restoration, and on upgrading and monitoring the closed waste-disposal tip. 
 
At the closed site, the protection of the environment from the impact of the waste had to be secured, while creating conditions for its re-integration in the natural environment. The need for special actions to protect the environment from the impact of the rubbish-tip mainly arose from the fact that certain waste items require considerable time before they are wholly degraded.

A main element of the restoration process was the final covering of the site with a layer of earth towards securing the conditions for planting vegetation. 

In addition,the plants of the Greek flora that are most suitable for such sites, were recorded upon the installation of vegetation for the restoration and re-configuration of the site. 

A measurement station network was installed for determining the physical and chemical factors affecting waste-disposal sites.

The contribution of schoolchildren and local residents focused on voluntary waste-collecting,planting and manual works. The schoolchildren acquired extensive knowledge concerning the problem of waste-disposal -a universal problem, present everywhere in the world- through special environment training lessons on waste,its management and the places for its disposal.

The contribution of the Greek Playwright Association in completing the project focused on providing the Municipality of Ios with specialised know-how concerning technical aspects of the open-air theatre construction.


RESULTS ACHIEVED

The objectives set at the beginning of the project for restoring the environment,constructing the theatre, integrating the cultural elements of the area and mobilising the local population, were all attained. 

Before the project, this site was an area that the local people avoided and did not talk about. Today, the same site is a beauty-spot, both for them, and for visiting tourists. The downgraded environment at the site and the non-existence essentially of any cultural activity on the island, were restored by protecting the environment, upgrading the area and rendering Ios a cultural centre of the Aegean region. 

In three years of operation, many internationally-acclaimed artists, groups and shows from Greece and abroad have appeared at the theatre. 

The construction of the theatre, which was named "Odysseus Elytis" in honour of our Nobel prize-winner and poet, also served to elevate the institution of the cultural activities in honour of the epic poet Homer. 

The restoration of the waste-disposal site secured its re-integration into the environment and its protection from the impact of the waste formerly stored there. The success of the project was confirmed by the measurements of physical and chemical agents in the ground, air and liquids, which were below the accepted levels. 

Beyond covering the remaining waste with a layer of earth, the dry-stonewalls were reconstructed in order to avoid erosion and retain the earth and water in place.

Another important intervention was the restoration of the site by installing 300 plants of 20 Greek flora species connected to the traditions and culture of our people. 

The transformation of a waste-disposal site into a recreation and culture site was effective and successful. 

Theco-operation between scientific, artistic and administrative bodies was excellent, the Municipality of Ios having the central role in their co-ordination. 

 
SUSTAINABILITY

As regards financing for the construction aspects, it is expected that part of the expense will be met by revenues from the tickets to the shows at the theatre and from the snack-bar.

The expenses concerning the planting of vegetation and the related studies of environmental factors were covered by the Environment Ministry, from its revenue derived from a fund created via indirect taxation on fuel and intended for local authority projects, especially in relation to environmental issues.

From a cultural point of view, the local people consider that their island has been considerably upgraded, and that they are no longer obliged to pursue tourism of the "consumer" type exclusively. The Homeric tradition and the history and traditions regarding the island's vegetation have also been upheld.The schools of the island have acquired a reference and education-site. In addition, visits are now being made there by other Greek schools.

As regards the environment, a downgraded area was restored and turned to account. It was upgraded culturally, but also environmentally, by installing local flora species having minimum external agent requirements (water, fertilisers, pesticides). 


 LESSONS LEARNED

The University of the Aegean has undertaken before projects for the restoration and upgrading of waste-disposal tips and downgraded ecosystems. At one point of the Athens waste-disposal tip, the behaviour of vegetation planted there was studied and the site was partially restored. The restoration and reconstruction of the surrounding area near the biological cleansing site on the island of Kos, on arid and unfertile ground, was awarded a European prize in 1993. The restoration of aromatic plants to ecosystems downgraded by forest fires on the island of Limnos was also very successful.

On the basis of the above, it can be seen that the transfer of know-how and experience on matters pertaining to the restoration of waste-disposal sites, there configuration of sites, selection of suitable vegetation, and the overall environment management of the Ios project, was very successful.

For the Municipality of Ios, experience on such matters was restricted to small-scale projects, involving the participation of local authority employees only.

The schools studied environmental issues, and the issue of waste-disposal in particular, in the context of environmental education. They created a bio-degradable waste park in their school, with all the items we discard at waste-disposal tips.They had programmes on issues concerning a cleaner town, cleaner school and cleaner coastline, and they worked on implementing same.

The environmental education programme realised at the schools on the occasion of the project was titled "Solid Waste Management on Ios - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - A Socio-Historical Approach - Impact on the Natural and Man-Made Environment -Solutions". Its duration was two years, longer than any other such programme. Its success was completed by the experience acquired by the children, who re-used items from the rubbish tip in flower-pots, candlesticks,vases and the construction of a Trojan Horse (which according to Homer's Iliad was used in conquering Troy).


TRANSFERABILITY

Similar projects can also be undertaken elsewhere, especially near small coastal settlements in arid environments. Such areas are plentiful throughout the insular and coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere. The environmental aspects may be combined with cultural actions aiming at turning to account the local features, either linked to history, or mythology, or tradition, or modern actions and activities.

A similar initiative by the University of the Aegean in collaboration with the Local Authorities at Kos, attracted several Local Authority officials who were convinced at the site of the non-destructive impact of biological cleansing installations on the environment.

We believe that this initiative shall have a similar impact, since there are many"open wounds" (estimated at 5,000 in Greece) of waste-disposal tips,which repel visitors and downgrade the local residents' standard of living.




 

 

 

Ios - (City IQ)

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