OUR HISTORY

In brief

Our conservation presence in Greece dates back in 1969. The restoration of the forest of Kesariani, on Mount Hymitos, was the first action. Next conservation steps: the Prespa Lakes and the forest of Dadia, in Northern Greece.
In 1991, a WWF International program office was established in Athens. In 1994, WWF Greece was established as a WWF national organization, with the legal status of a welfare foundation, registered in Greece.

1969

First steps on Hymitos

In the 1950s, one of the founding fathers of WWF International, Dr Luc Hoffman, visits Greece and becomes and falls in love with Greek nature. In the years to come, Luc Hoffmann sets upa basic action plan that focuses on the protection of threatened and endangered species. The official premiere of WWF in Greece happens in 1969, on Hymitos; the reforestation operations will last many years. WWF's conservation action in Greece has just begun...

1980

Building our programme

In the 1980s, WWF develops conservation work in ecologically sensitive areas in all Greece. Innovative approaches, like integrated ecosystem management and sustainable development are applied in Prespa, the estuaries of Louros, in Rodopi and Dadia, in the Nestos delta. These rich and threatened ecosystems form the first map of WWF action in Greece. At sea, urgent conservation action aims for the protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, the birds of prey and the Brown Bear.

1991

WWF Greece

WWF International opens a programme office in Athens. In 1994 the office becomes an independent national organization with the legal status of a welfare foundation.

1992

Dadia is recognised as "the land of raptors"

One of the first field projects of WWF started in 1979 at the Dadia Forest, in Evros. This beautiful forest, which is the most important habitat for birds of prey in the European Union, was protected by law in 1981 thanks to WWF's efforts. In 1992, a scientific team is permanently installed there with tha main objective to encounter the needs and threats the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli forest is facing. Today Dadia is one of the best managed protected areas in Greece. Our team adjusted every time to the new conditions by engaging in varied activities, and also by registering the progress in the Evros Delta, in order to contribute in improving its management and protection.

1994

Safeguarding the "sea turtle beach"

In the early 1990’s, Sekania, the most important nesting beach of the Caretta caretta sea turtle on Sakynthos, was seriously threatened by illegal land development. WWF Greece focused on habitat conservation and took immediate action to counter the risk of total destruction of the nesting beach. The 32.7 ha of land surrounding Sekania was purchased by WWF Greece in 1994 as part of an EU co-funded project. The total amount (600 m. drachma) for the land purchase was secured through a three-year European campaign run by WWF Greece, with significant contribution from WWF Netherlands and WWF Germany. In 1994, Sekania became the first beach accessible only to sea turtles and scientists!

Standing against the diversion of Acheloos

In 1994 we started a difficult fight against the completely absurd work of enormous proportions that was the Diversion of the River Acheloos with the collaboration of four other environmental organizations. This effort, which continues until today, resulted in six victories at the Council of State as well as the public outcry against this destructive model of rural development and water management in Greece. Our most recent battle took place at the Court of Justice of the European Union in September 2012. According to the decision, the diversion, in the way that it was planned and approved by the Greek Parliament in 2006, violates the European environmental legislation.

1998

The new era

The organization renews its traditional profile which had until that time focused mainly on field work and capacity building for biodiversity conservation. Tt turns to a more integrated approach to the environmental crisis and paves the way towards sustainable development.

Forests for ever

Our worries for the forests protection is nothing new. From its first steps, WWF Greece dealt with forest protection. With the launch of the three-year campaign Forest for Ever we commence in 1998 a public debate on forest fires and their deeper causes. After the mobilizationof thousands of our supporters, we submit a set of realistic proposals to the competent institutions, with the ultimate objective being to not degrade the forests protection due to the constitutional review of 2001.

Athens Olympics 2004 - A Marathon race for the environment

In 1998, we launched a campaign aiming to green the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. We emphasize changing the Olympic Rowing Center location, from the ecologically important and sensitive area of Schinias and we criticize harshly the enormous environmental and economic cost of the games. We substantiate alternative solutions, collaborate with other environmental organizations and the European Committee and in July 2004, in collaboration with WWF International, we publish an environmental analysis survey of the Athens Olympic Games. Although the Athens Olympics were loaded with a heavy environmental footprint, a of important victories were won through this campaign. In July 2004, WWF issued a scorecard, ranking the environmental performance of Athens 2004 in a number of areas. According to our international press release, "The Environmental Assessment of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, evaluates the environmental wins and losses of the Athens Olympics based on the Sydney 2000 Olympics benchmark for “clean and green” games. On a scale of 0-4, it rates the environmental component of the Athens Olympics at a very disappointing score of 0.77. The lowest scores were given to areas such as environmental planning and evaluation, protection of fragile natural and cultural areas, waste management and water conservation, and the use of environmentally-friendly construction technologies. The highest scores went to the fields of public transport, the improvement of existing infrastructure, and the promotion of environmental awareness. WWF is concerned that these wins may disappear when the Olympic Games come to a close."

2000

For a healthy marine environment

We tried to set in action our vision for a healthy marine environment and for the conservation of fishing stocks, in Kastellorizo.  Although in the end the fish shelter we had designed and proposed didn't came true, we have in our hands a complete survey, after three years of work, which can be utilized to create at last protected fishing areas in other locations. All the knowledge accumulated in the field of marine ecosystem protection and the experience from our participation in global campaigns and initiatives for the conservation of fisheries and coast management were utilized in an ambitious plan for a national intervention by WWF in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Initiative, the new strategic program of the organization, will be, for the coming years, the framework for the renovation of the action and collaboration of eight WWF offices.

2003

Laws that serve the citizen and nature

In 2003 we created a very active team of volunteer lawyers, engineers, architects, environmentalists and other scientists, which examines the numerous charges that come from all over Greece. Our legal team looks into these cases and provides its opinion, aiming to support intervention and action by the citizens themselves and by the social organizations that fight for the protection of the environment. In some cases, when citizens have done whatever they could do, WWF Greece took action through its legal team in order to support their cases. Since the founding of our legal team, more than 500 cases have reached WWF Greece. In several of them, our collaboration with active citizens and other organizations has been proved extremely effective.

2004

No to chemicals!

2004 marks a new era for policy campaigns. With DETOX - say no to dangerous chemicals - we participate in WWF's European campaign that aims to contain and gradually ban the issue and use of the most dangerous chemical substances. We achieved, along with the other WWF European organizations to pass a regulation, even with some inevitable readjustments, against enormous pressure and reactions.

Safari in our islands

After our intense policy campaigns, in 2004 we launched a different campaign in the context of which we "sweep" all of our islands. We decide to register all island wetlands in Greece. Why? Simply because these small, precious ecological diamonds remained unknown, resulting in them being degraded. We were proudly the first to register and monitor tirelessly the over 800 small island wetlands. We faced offices and ministries, eventually achieving  to have the small island wetlands recognized by Greek legislation as protected ecosystems, to integrate many of them in local protection status and begin the first local initiatives for their protection and restoration. In total we registered 498 wetlands in 64 Aegean islands, 209 in Crete and 2 neighboring islands and 98 in 8 Ionian islands. In Crete in particular, the first working monitor network was established, monitoring the wetlands status, which with the help of other local teams deals with crucial interventions any instances of degradation and arbitrariness.

2005

We are not alone...

From Sekania, Zakynthos we have already sent a powerful broad message for the protection of the sea's endangered species. After the turtle, with close collaboration with other organizations, we looked at the seal and the cetacean not as isolated species in need of our care, but as a part of valuable ecosystems (Mediterranean monk seal and strategy / rescue plan for cetacean). We examined their relationship to human and after years of survey we made detailed proposals. Action Plan for MOFI program On a different level we backed the sustainable management fishing, in order to ensure the recovery of fishery supplies, marine biodiversity protection and of course the future of Greek fishing.

2006

The climate is in our hands

Two years later and on the heels of DETOX's successful outcome, we start our first campaign against climate change entitled The climate is in our hands. We inform, we raise awareness, we shape proposals and opinions, we get to talks with corporations, institutions and the state and we are present in the big summits on the planet's future. Our work for the climate continues until today, having to show a number of remarkable initiatives in every level: in making proposals for the RES development, informing the public on matters of conservation, trying to mobilize the state to enact more efficient climate policies.

2007

Destruction gives birth to hope

It's hard to wipe the summer of 2007 from the Greek's memory, with the destructive forest fires. The three-year program The Future of the Forests was an immediate response to this unprecedented catastrophe. This program sadly made us the first and only institution (public or private) that has given a complete and scientifically documented aftermath of the forest fires in Peloponnese, Euboea, Parnitha (2007), Rhodes (2008), northeastern Attica, Zakynthos,  Karystos, Elikonas-Kitheronas (2009) and central Evros (2011). It was created in thousands of hours inside expanses burned by the flames, which was mapped and taken care of for the smooth rebirth of the forest. There were also 1,500 autopsies and visits to areas of interest. 8,650 students and approximately 1,000 teachers participated in these activities and seminars. It's a common belief that these three years were the starting point for the reformation of the legislation and, mainly, the citizen's society - because the forests we'll be saved when people change.

2009

In the dark for an hour

Society has already accepted the values of a balanced relationship between human and nature. It adopts collective means of expression and demands a quality of life and a civilization that respects the environment. And it wishes to send a message to everyone. This explains the unexpected success of Earth Hour that we have been running for five consecutive years, 2009-2013.

2010

We share the same house

In 2010 we decide to bring to the spotlight 14 sea mammals (dolphins, whales, sperm whales, ziphius, porpoises and seals) that live in the Greek seas. With a new campaign entitled "Sea" we set sail with our collaborations MOm, the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, and the Tethys research institute on a voyage to raise awareness for the wondrous underwater world of sea mammals. Our motto, "we share the same house" speaks for itself regarding our responsibilities.

2012

New lands, familiar places

In late 2011, we create an Atlas on land coverage (Atlanta apotiposis ton kalipseon gis) a big publication effort, pioneering for Greek standards, that covers twenty years 1987-2007 and recreates Ikoskopio (Οικοσκόπιο) an internet portal, that offers a visual coverage of the natural environment along with a kids edition the Ikospokio-Kids. We evaluate the largest corporations in Greece in terms of their environmental impact assessment, continuing the work of the Index of Environmental Management and Transparency in Greece that was introduced in 2009, and estimated the damage from the summer forest fires in 2012, in Northeastern Attica and Chios.

Justification on the matter of wetlands

After 8 years of ceaseless actions, in March 31 2012 the presidential decree "Approval of the list of small island wetlands and definition of the terms and restrictions for the protection and elevation of the small coastal wetlands that it includes" was signed by the caretaker Minister of Department of Energy and Climate and went to the President of Greece. A few days before the elections on June 17, the decree was finally signed and got to the National Printing House!
This presidential decree represents for us and for all the volunteers that stood by our side in any possible way, a justification for nine years of hard work. After 9 years, many long nights, tons of meetings, thousands of kilometers in the Greek islands, threats and pressures we celebrated a great victory. The first, very important phase of our work is complete: the legal protection of 380 island wetlands, that cover up to 80 square meters in 59 islands. But now, the next one begins: putting it into practice!

A big thank you

To all of those that stand by our side, here in WWF Greece for all these years: Institutions, Corporations, other NGOs, Bodies, Collaboration, Volunteers, Grand Donors, Distinguished Friends, Supporters. Tenths of thousands of people who on their own way shaped and keep shaping what WWF Greece is.


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