Αsopos river: factuality and prospects of conservation and its environmental appointment

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Αsopos river: factuality and prospects of conservation and its environmental appointment
Georgia Goumopoulou, architect

Short presentation - Pointing out the importance and role of Asopos river Prospects of conservation and environmental appointment of Asopos river via an alternative and more ecological management - Anti-conclusion

Short presentation
Asopos river offers a variety of forms and scale in the succession of places that flows from the mountainous volume of Kithairona until the level forms and broad surfaces of system of estuaries-lagoon and coastal shapings in South Evoikos gulf. However beyond the geomorphologic and landscape references, the anthropogenic environment seems to prevail against nature and thus what shapes the character of river is the intense exploitation from human activities as agricultural, stock farming, built-up, craft-based and industrial all with a wide public attribute∙ the production of sewages.

The intense and continuing pollution of river constitutes direct danger so much for the human health what for the balance of riverine natural ecosystem that the illicit and bad management they have caused its perturbation in such degree that likely the various homostatic mechanisms, that function to equalize for the protection and reintroduction of natural ecosystems, they cannot continue absorbing this violent modification and at an early date the system “detunes and progressively is downgraded or even collapses”. (H.O.U./Arianoutsou, 1999: 60)

However the tolerances of various natural ecosystems are proved big but since the pressure and exhaustion of natural resources are not into spirit and the significance of sustainable growth and management, other ways must be found for the growth of the region.

Pointing out the importance and role of Asopos river
The particularity of Asopos river is that it does not constitute an already downgraded fluvial system in a developed and over-built urban net and we are called to observe and to protect its any -by chance left- free riparian land and “to fight” for the acquisition of new ones. On the contrary it constitutes already a downgraded ecosystem –because of the intensive pollution that exists from the arrangement of Industrial Zone in Oinofita in big department of its banks- but in the substance is found to be in the “beginning of” various pressures and problems that unverifiable and arbitrary built-up growth - and all consecutives - cause in natural units as the streams and the rivers.

The maintenance and protection of natural character and operation of Asopos river have big importance for the viable growth of this region. The same role plays the equitable planning and sustainable management -so much the riverine and abutting activities, of what increasing built-up growth. The environmental value of existence and planning of riparian suburban areas is certain uncontradictable. The contribution of such type of ecosystems is decisive for the configuration of special microclimatic conditions (cooling, airing, standardisation of high temperatures, reject of abrupt changes of humidity, etc.) through their operation as conductors of gases of currents, but also via the vegetation and the aquatic element that allocates. At the same time the make of existence of still enough free “un-built” spaces into developing built-up network allows their safeguarding of part and creation of appreciable area of protection of river. Main element of these natural open spaces is able to be the accessibility and the communal character -in order that it can be used as a natural space and be signalled as a social space. (Kosmaki, 1998-99)

As generally speaking the special characteristics of the river - positive and negatively could be summarised in the below points:

• It constitutes the alone river of Attica with natural cross-section at all its length.

• In its big department flows rural or ground extents. This fact offers the possibility of finding planning tools able to create a protection area from future built-up growth.

• It mainly flows through regions of residence so much permanent what seasonal -mostly in the department that flows the Prefecture of Attica- reasonable result of “pressure” that practise the “expansion” of Athens’ basin. In this option the offer via its appointment for the quality of life of residents will be precious.

• The overexploitation of waters (irrigation, drillings, etc.) has involved the reduction of its flow so that it functions more as torrent.

• “It is affected” for years by the mismanagement and “bad-legal procedures” -both the state and the private interests (industry, arbitrarily) are responsible. That has effected the natural element very badly. It has mainly suffered important alterations from river ‘s pollution with industrial, agricultural, veterinary sewages and urban waste but has not reached in such degree that the damage is not reversible so that it does not deserve maintenance and protection.

• In spite of its devalorisation, maintains in enough points the riverine flora and fauna and more specifically a system of wetlands that takes shape in his estuaries and far east (lagoon of Oropos - region Saltmarshes) and constitutes shelter and place of existence good and infrequent enough times bird-fauna.

• The supralocal character of region Oropos already has been stressed with the arrangement by the Regional Plan of Athens as a centre of recreation and holiday that is connected with the protection of existing natural environment.

• The restoration of the river will save its complex ecosystem and will shaped a single natural unit that beyond the environmental dimension and value it is possible to combine itself with the social and economy and to constitute means of viable growth of wider region.

Prospects of conservation and environmental appointment of Asopos river via an alternative and more ecological management
Without fail we cannot speak for no effort of protection and appointment of Asopos when the river is continuously being delegated from the reject industrial, urban and agricultural sewages in its watercourse without no one almost process of their biological cleaning and the via this law continuation of “crime” with until now being in effect legislation of 1969 that characterizes Asopos river receptor of industrial waste of industrial area Oinoi - Oinofita. Any thought and proposal become in the frames of affair that the problem of pollution and the process of pollution control of river with technical and institutional tools will have been untied.

One still point that deserves more search is the possibility of exploitation of this natural ecosystem as means of viable growth of region. No via a thoughtless and violent exploitation of natural wealth, to economically or other local interests, but via soft interventions and sustainable management the natural unit of Asopos river could constitute a pole of attraction for activities with environmental and ecological character such as environmental education, bird-watching and more generally ecotourism but also agri-tourism.

Therefore, in future an alternative development and growth of Asopos river and its riverine ecosystem could be based on principles as:

• The safety of population from floods, geological erosion, accidents etc.

• The respect in the natural element of river and the recognition of its complex environmental operation.

• The possibility of free access and use of river from all in a safe and united way.

• Approach and growth of urban net in a safe way for the ecosystem of river.

• Guarantee and maintenance, where it is feasible, of the rural grounds in riparian extents as well as restoration and continuation of natural landscape as physiognomy of the region.

• Participative management of river. Anyone who really cares (resident, professional, built-up association etc.) should have both the right and obligation in the management of system with the help of institution of management that will be organised for the aim. However the guarantee of resources and the concretisation of necessary work will constitute responsibility of state and local municipalities and communities. Characteristic example constitutes the catholic attendance of residents via their local built-up associations in the efforts of pollution control of river and work of flood-preventing protection. Wish work it would also be also the possibility of catholic attendance in the effort of maintenance of Asopos river not only as a hydrologic system natural and clean flow but also as a protected natural total the included in the life and the conscience of all with reciprocal concessions and compromises with the intense feeling of collectiveness and environmental conscience and no usual trait of “new greek ‘s property fury” mainly.

All the previous beginnings and objectives have a common characteristic· they constitute substantially axes to various directions and try to cover a multidimensional question like the one of rivers’ ecosystem management. The ultimate purpose is both the viability of the river and its active operation in the sustainable growth of region. Sure the each one point from the previous accepts needs deeper analysis and interdisciplinary approach in finding various ways resolutions of each question.

The seasons when the short-term and individual profit were the axis of action of all have passed a long time ago. The continuously more unfavourable news than the destruction of natural environment does not leave substantially margins for mismanagements and “short-eyed” solutions. As long as “we expanded” it is inevitable we consume natural resources but the sensitivity and our faculty will be judged in the way that we managed them and also leave them simply exist. From various scientists it has been pointed out that the comprehension and the suitable management of ecosystems should be recognized from the person as a moral responsibility, and the old perception of unlimited exploitation should it is replaced by news of re-establishment, sensible and sustainable management of natural resources. (Ispikoudis, Chatzistathis, 1995)



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