Conservation action for the sea turtle beach
Sekania hosts between 500-1000 nests of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), one of the highest recorded nesting densities for this species world-wide. The conservation of Sekania beach, as well as the wider area of Laganas Bay with its 5 other nesting beaches, as a suitable nesting habitat, is therefore of great importance for the future of loggerhead sea turtles in the Mediterranean.
The 32.7 hectares of land surrounding Sekania beach was purchased by WWF Greece in 1994 as part of the ACNAT E.U./WWF-Greece Integrated Ionian Project. The 600 million drachmas (approx. 1.5 million euros) for the land purchase came from both this project and funds raised through a three-year Pan-European campaign run by WWF Greece. The aim of the land purchase was to secure the conservation status of the area through the aversion of tourist development and the implementation of management measures.
Since 1994, WWF Greece has established a permanent conservation presence in the area and compiled a management plan for Sekania. In the course of these sixteen years, a number of studies have been completed that have contributed to the increase of knowledge about the ecology and management needs of the site. Furthermore, long-term protection against erosion and forest fires has been secured through works implemented in Autumn 2002 - Spring 2003. These works were funded by the Ministry of Environment and were supervised by the NMPZ Management Body and by the local Forest Directorate.
In 1999, the NMPZ was established by Presidential Decree. The park was largely established due to pressure exerted by NGOs and also in response to the initiation of legal procedures against Greece by the European Commission (for violation of article 12 of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) due to failure to ensure the conservation of the Caretta caretta in Zakynthos). The Management Body of the NMPZ was established in July 2000 and is the first management authority for a protected area in Greece. WWF Greece together with the NGO Archelon hold a seat on the board of the Management Body.
In October 2001, a catastrophic wildfire entirely destroyed the forest cover of the slopes surrounding Sekania beach. The verdict issued by the Fire Brigade attributed the fire to arson. WWF Greece immediately responded to this crisis by mobilizing volunteer teams and securing generous donations in kind from WWF supporters and friends, in order to develop erosion control works along the slopes, before the winter rains began. These interventions proved vital, since the amount of mud sliding from the slopes to the beach was minimal, compared to the absolute lack of vegetation cover. Hence, the beach was saved, since the crust formed by the mud did not cover the entire part of the beach that is used for nesting by the sea turtles.
Thanks to the generous support from thousands of friends and supporters, WWF Greece remains the guardian of this unique home for the Mediterranean's endangered sea turtles!
Project leader: Charicleia Minotou,