For every citizen of Athens there are only 2-3 m2 of green space*, the lowest percentage in all of the EU Member States.
But how is this possible, in a beautiful city that has been endowed with quite a number of green areas?
The reason is that very simply the Greek State itself has decided in the recent years to irreversibly degrade them, either by transferring them to private individuals, or with land use changes, or even uncontrolled commercial exploitation by Local Authority Organizations etc. All this, with the pretence that this is happening for the common public good.
Some shocking examples:
The transfer of 5000 m2 from the Pedion tou Areos to the Panellinios gymnastics club (with very dodgy legal doings) that also entailed plans to cut down lots of trees and illegal building.
The siting of the Metro station and the Contemporary Art Museum in the Rizari Park area (original area 115000 m2 – now only 50000 m2), that was mysteriously handed over from the Greek State to the Goulandris family.
The expansion of the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) at the expense of the Eleftherias Park.
The transfer of a large part of the Nea Philadelphia Park to the AEK football club.
Many illegal actions, like new buildings and destruction of existing greenhouses within the Syngrou Estate
And the list just goes on and on.
We are losing these priceless “lungs” of our city and apart from the local NGOs like the WWF and some, not many, concerned citizens, nobody else seems to give a damn.
*According to the Ministry of Environment, February 2004, there are 3,55 m2 for each citizen, that is the figure when adding the green on the traffic islands, the lawn on Attiki Odos and Ymittos Circular, but without considering the serious reductions in green space that occurred during their construction (e.g. Ymittos)
References/ useful links for further reading:
Labels: Athens, conservation, environment, parks, politics, urban planning