Lampou, A., N., Skoulikidis, N., Bonada. 2021. Biogeographical drivers of beta diversity in a multi-taxa system in Aegean islands, in relation to dispersal ability. Journal of Biogeography (in prep.).
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Lampou, A., N., Skoulikidis, N., Bonada. 2021. Biogeographical drivers of beta diversity in a multi-taxa system in Aegean islands, in relation to dispersal ability. Journal of Biogeography (in prep.).
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Noll, D., C., Lauk, W., Haas, S.J., Singh, P., Petridis, and D., Wiedenhofer. 2021. The sociometabolic transition of a small Greek island. Assessing stock dynamics, resource flows and material circularity from 1929 to 2019. Journal of Industrial Ecology (re-submitted in July 2021).
Their geomorphological characteristics make island systems special focal points for sustainability challenges. The Circular Economy (CE) Action Plan of the European Union (EU) foresees tailored solution sets for Europe’s outermost regions and islands to tackle region-specific sustainability challenges. We address the question of how islands can achieve more sustainable resource use by utilizing the socioeconomic metabolism (SEM) framework to assess and explore CE strategies for the Greek island of Samothraki. For this purpose, we apply material and energy flow analysis (MEFA) on a regional level and derive, as one of the first studies, a complete time series from 1929 to 2019 for socio-economic biophysical stocks and flows according to mass-balance principles for an island economy. Results show that in the past 90 years Samothraki’s material stocks grew 5-fold, domestic material consumption 3-fold and solid waste generation 5-fold. Samothraki transitioned from an almost entirely circular biophysical economy towards one in which 40% of input materials and 30% of output materials are estimated as non-circular. This transition resulted in an accumulated solid waste stock on the island almost half the size of current material stocks in use. With this study we aim at providing ideas and opportunities for achieving more sustainable and circular material use on small islands. The published SEM database aims at supporting the public and private sector and the island community at large with information key to establishing more sustainable material and energy use patterns on Samothraki.
Singh, S.J., M., Fischer-Kowalski, and M., Chertow. 2020. “Introduction: The Metabolism of Islands.” Sustainability 12 (22): 9516. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229516.
This editorial introduces the Special Issue “Metabolism of Islands”. It makes a case why we should care about islands and their sustainability. Islands are hotspots of biocultural diversity, and home to 600 million people that depend on one-sixth of the earth’s total area, including the surrounding oceans, for their subsistence. Today, they are on the frontlines of climate change and face an existential crisis. Islands are, however, potential “hubs of innovation” and are uniquely positioned to be leaders in sustainability and climate action. We argue that a full-fledged program on “island industrial ecology” is urgently needed with the aim to offer policy-relevant insights and strategies to sustain small islands in an era of global environmental change. We introduce key industrial ecology concepts, and the state-of-the-art in applying them to islands. Nine contributions in this Special Issue are briefly reviewed to highlight the metabolic risks inherent in the island cases. The contributors explore how reconfiguring patterns of resource use will allow island governments to build resilience and adapt to the challenges of climate change.
Fischer-Kowalski, M., M., Löw, D., Noll, P., Petridis, and N., Skoulikidis. 2020. “Samothraki in Transition: A Report on a Real-World Lab to Promote the Sustainability of a Greek Island.” Sustainability 12 (5): 1932. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051932.
This is a case study on a small mountainous island in the Aegean Sea with the policy goal of
preparing it to become member of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. While the local community opted for such an identity very early on, there are a number of obstacles to be overcome. The multidisciplinary research is based upon a sociometabolic approach and focuses on two issues: The transformation of agriculture, mainly herding of sheep and goats, and the shift to tourism. The degradation of the landscape caused by extensive roaming of goats and sheep constitute one of the major sustainability challenges of the island. We analyze farmers’ opportunities and describe new initiatives to get out of this deadlock. The impacts of the transition to tourism are addressed from an infrastructural perspective: A shift from traditional stone buildings to bricks and concrete, the establishment of new roads and ports, and the challenges to water supply and wastewater removal, also with reference to the quality and amounts of wastes generated that need to be dealt with. The island has so far escaped mass tourism and attracts mainly eco-tourists who value its remoteness and wilderness. We discuss how to serve this clientele best in the future, and increase local job opportunities and income while maintaining environmental quality. Finally, we reflect upon emerging new forms of local collaboration and the impact of our research efforts on a sustainability transition that might be on its way.
Skoulikidis N.T., A., Lampou, S., Laschou. 2020. Unraveling Aquatic Quality Controls of a Nearly Undisturbed Mediterranean Island (Samothraki, Greece). Water 12, 473; doi:10.3390/w12020473.
Due to its rough, mountainous relief, Samothraki remains one of the last minimally disturbed islands in the Mediterranean. This paper examines the hydrogeochemical regime of the island’s surface waters as it results from geological, morphological, and hydro(geo)logical controls within a frame of minimally disturbed environmental conditions. Shallow, fractured groundwater aquifers, in combination with steep slopes and predominant weathering resistant rocks, bring about flashy stream regimes with remarkably low solute concentrations. Streams and springs revealed hydrochemical similarities. Contrary to streams chiefly draining sedimentary rocks, streams underlined by granite and ophiolite rocks do not respond hydrochemically to geochemical differences. Using ion proportions instead of concentrations, geochemical fingertips of magmatic stream basins were detected. Atmospheric inputs largely affect stream and spring composition, e.g., by 75% regarding sodium. Only 20% of dissolved oxygen and pH variance was assigned to biological activity, while nutrient levels were consistent with the undisturbed conditions of the island, except nitrate. Small mountainous springs and brooks fed by restricted, fractured groundwater aquifers with perennial flow, despite scarce summer rainfalls, may be fueled by cloud and fog condensation. High night-day stream flow differences, high atmospheric humidity predominately occurring during the night, and low stream water travel times point out toward this phenomenon.
Vlami V., J., Danek, S., Zogaris, E., Gallou, I.P., Kokkoris, G., Kehayias, P., Dimopoulos. 2020. Residents’ Views on Landscape and Ecosystem Services during a Wind Farm Proposal in an Island Protected Area. Sustainability 12, 2442; doi:10.3390/su12062442.
Industrial wind farms are being developed within many protected areas, such as in EU Natura 2000 sites; this includes proposals on small Mediterranean islands, such as Samothraki in Greece. Scarce wild land areas on islands may be particularly vulnerable to landscape-scale degradation; this may have serious negative societal impacts. Samothraki’s resident perceptions were surveyed in the wake of such a proposal, in June 2018. Of 98 respondents, 48% reported they were against the wind farm plan, while 22% did not take sides. We compare for-and-against sub-group perceptions of the proposed wind farm with potential impacts on the landscape and explore residents’ opinions on ecosystem services and environmental pressures and threats. Conflict over the wind farm was prevalent; residents most frequently reported that the proposal threatens aesthetic and landscape qualities. Aesthetic qualities were also the second highest ranked ecosystem services, after freshwater provision. However, other threats, such as livestock overgrazing, top residents’ opinion of major environmental problems on the island. The questionnaire survey used provides a scoping assessment, which may assist in identifying "conflict hotspots" for wind farm development. A critical review of wind farm planning in protected areas is presented in light of insights gained from this survey and other relevant studies.
Petridis, P, and M., Fischer-Kowalski. 2020. 6th Summer School on “Aquatic and Social Ecology” on Samothraki, Greece. Working Paper Social Ecology 184. Vienna: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences.
The 6th Summer School on “Aquatic and Social Ecology” took place on the island Samothraki, Greece, between the 21st of June and the 1st July 2019, aiming to apply methodological approaches used in socioecological and aquatic research in a local setting, while supporting local sustainability initiatives and building synergy with the efforts of Samothraki to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Theoretical input was provided by several members of the long-lasting research consortium (including researchers from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria; the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece; the University of Waterloo, Canada; and the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, Portugal), each presenting different aspects of current and future research undertaken on the island.
For the most part of the summer school, students were split in smaller groups and conducted fieldwork in an array of social and natural science methods. Six modules were performed in parallel, each consisting of an information block, participating field research, data analysis and reporting. Each method was practically demonstrated by a tutor guiding the small student group throughout the field work.
Noll, D., C., Lauk, V., Gaube, and D., Wiedenhofer. 2020. “Caught in a Deadlock: Small Ruminant Farming on the Greek Island of Samothrace. The Importance of Regional Contexts for Effective EU Agricultural Policies.” Sustainability 12 (3): 762. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030762.
Sedentary extensive small ruminant farming systems are highly important for the preservation of High Nature Value (HNV) farmland. Both the abandonment of grazing and overgrazing have led to environmental degradation in many Mediterranean regions. On the Greek island of Samothrace, decades of overgrazing by sheep and goats has caused severe degradation of local ecosystems. The present study highlights the importance of regional contexts for national and EU agricultural policies in regard to sustainable development of sedentary extensive livestock systems. By utilizing the conceptual framework of socio-ecological systems research, we analyze the interdependencies of environmental, economic and social factors on a local island level. Results show that between 1929 and 2016, the livestock and land-use system of Samothrace transformed from a diverse system towards a simplified system, solely used for small ruminant production. Total livestock units increased from 2200 in 1929 to 7850 in 2002, declining to 5100 thereafter. The metabolic analysis conducted for the years 1993–2016 shows that 80–90% of the feed demand of small ruminants was covered by grazing, exceeding available grazing resources for at least a decade. The regional implementation of CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) continues to support excessively high animal numbers, while farmers are highly dependent on subsidies and find themselves in an economic deadlock.
Skoulikidis N.T., A. Lampou. 2019. Hydrochemical characteristics of Samothraki surface waters. Poster, Samothraki Nature Observatory.
Many comprehensive surveys have been carried out on Samothraki Island aquatic resources (springs and streams) focusing on their chemical aspects.
Samples from 21 cold springs and 2 hot springs were examined for their physicochemical (water temperature, conductivity, pH and dissolved oxygen) and chemical (major ions and nutrients) characteristics. Springs were hydrochemically classified and evaluated considering the drinking water standards.
23 stream basins (45 stream sites) have been investigated in order to promote the interpretation of the factors and processes that determine their physicochemical and chemical characteristics. For this purpose, in situ measurements of physicochemical parameters were conducted and water samples were collected for laboratory analyses regarding major ions and nutrients. The chemical-physicochemical quality of the examined stream sites was assessed using the Nutrient Classification System (NCS) (Skoulikidis et al., 2006).
Panagopoulos, Y., Dimitriou, E., Skoulikidis, N. 2019. Vulnerability of a Northeast Mediterranean Island to Soil Loss. Can Grazing Management Mitigate Erosion? Water 11, 1491. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071491
Grazing management practices can be erosion abatement actions for lowering soil loss and the subsequent sediment pollution of surface water bodies. Process-based Geographic Information Systems models provide the opportunity to identify critical areas and hence better target such actions across the landscape. This study implemented the SWAT (Soil Water Assessment Tool) hydrologic and catchment management model to estimate the soil loss vulnerability of the nearly pristine but highly erodible Greek island of Samothraki in the North Aegean Sea, with a typical Mediterranean climate and steep topography. Model parameterization and evaluation were carried out by taking advantage of previous modeling experience on areas with data limitations. Inter-annual and intra-annual soil loss variability and the most critical areas (subbasins) of soil loss to waters were adequately identified and grazing management scenarios, including livestock reductions by 50% and 100%, grazing period reduction, and a combination of them, were formulated and applied to investigate the degree to which soil loss could be reduced. The annual reduction results varied between scenarios in the range of 10% to 25% for the entire island, and in wider ranges for its individual subbasins, showing a high potential for reducing the vulnerability of the most pressured ones. However, due to the high importance of the natural factors of rainfall and land slopes, the erosion vulnerability of the island overall could be significantly altered only if grazing management was integrated within a vegetation regeneration plan that included reforestation.
Vlami V., S., Zogaris, H., Djuma, I.P., Kokkoris, G., Kehayias, P., Dimopoulos. 2019. A Field Method for Landscape Conservation Surveying: The Landscape Assessment Protocol (LAP). Sustainability, 11; doi:10.3390/su11072019.
We introduce a field survey method to assess the conservation condition of landscapes. Using a popular rapid assessment format, this study defines observable “stressed states” identified through the use of general metrics to gauge landscape degradation. Fifteen metrics within six thematic categories were selected through a literature review and extensive field trials. Field tests on the Greek island of Samothraki show a strong correlation between a single expert’s scores and five assessor’s scores at 35 landscape sites. Only three of the metrics did not maintain a high consistency among assessors; however, this is explained by the difficulty of interpreting certain anthropogenic stressors (such as livestock grazing) in Mediterranean semi-natural landscapes with culturally-modified vegetation patterns. The protocol and proposed index, with five conservation condition classes, identified areas of excellent and good quality, and reliably distinguished the most degraded landscape conditions on the island. Uncertainties and difficulties of the index are investigated, and further research and validation are proposed. The protocol effectively goes beyond a traditional visual aesthetic assessment; it can be used both by experts and non-scientists as a conservation-relevant multi-disciplinary procedure to support a holistic landscape diagnosis. The combination of an on-site experiential survey and its simple integrative format may be useful as a screening-level index, and for promoting local participation, landscape literacy and educational initiatives.
Fischer-Kowalski, M. and P., Petridis. 2019. Fifth Summer School on Aquatic and Social Ecology on Samothraki, Greece. Working Papers Social Ecology 178.
The 5th Summer School on �Aquatic and Social Ecology� successfully took place on Samothraki between the 3rd and 12th of June 2018. The course was designed as a ten-day excursion with the aim to learn and apply aquatic ecology and social ecology approaches in a local setting while supporting current research and building synergy with the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve process. The course gave participants the opportunity to engage in a real-life project and utilise their scientific training to support the process further, namely the creation of a management plan with a set of activities towards sustainability, and a science plan for further research on the island that would also meet local interests. This provided students the experience of participating in a transdisciplinary research process, being exposed to a search for solutions for sustainability and development challenges, and learning to interact with stakeholders in a culturally challenging environment.
Noll, D., D., Wiedenhofer, A., Miatto, S.J., Singh. 2019. The expansion of the built environment, waste generation and EU recycling targets on Samothraki, Greece: An island’s dilemma. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 150, 104405. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.104405
Connectivity and affluence provide communities on small islands with opportunities and challenges. Both factors drive the expansion of material stocks which in turn determines future waste generation. For islands with limited waste treatment options an effective waste management strategy is inevitable. For the Greek island of Samothraki, construction and demolition waste (CDW) represents a new phenomenon. The advent of tourism, EU funding, labor migration and the construction of a new port in the 1960s led to an expansion of the built environment unprecedented on the island. As a consequence, new types and expanding quantities of CDW put the island community increasingly in the need for action. The European Waste Framework Directive, reinforced in 2018 with the Circular Economy Package, demands from EU member states at least 70% recycling and recovery rate of CDW until 2020.
In this study, a mixed methods approach enabled the integration of data from official statistics, field surveys and interviews into a dynamic stock-driven model for different infrastructure and buildings types on Samothraki from 1971 to 2016. Our results show that the material stock expanded from 175 t/cap to 350 t/cap in the given period, leading to a 15-fold increase of annual CDW generation. With a recycling rate of only 14%, the island is currently far away from meeting the recycling and recovery targets of the EU-WFD. This study provides a systematic and dynamic analysis for developing policy and management options on reducing, re-using and recycling of CDW on islands where waste treatment options are limited.
Noll, Dominik, Dominik Wiedenhofer, Alessio Miatto, Simron Jit Singh. 2018. Infrastructure expansion, waste generation and EU policies on Circular Economy in Samothraki, Greece: An island's dilemma. Science to support circular economy symposium of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Anthropogenic Resources, Vienna.
For the Greek island Samothraki, an effective waste management strategy plays a central role, as the export of waste is cost intensive and local disposal possibilities are limited. The EU Waste Framework Directive (EU-WFD) 2008/98/EC demands from EU member states a 70% recycling and recovery rate of construction and demolition waste (CDW) until 2020, which was reinforced with the Circular Economy Package. The construction of a new port in the late 1960s lead to an expansion of the built environment, unprecedented on the island and driven by the integration of Greece into the EU, labor migration and a shift in the local economy, especially through the advent of tourism. As a consequence, new types and expanding quantities of CDW put the island community increasingly in the need for action.
In this study, a dynamic stock-driven modelling approach in combination with a qualitative survey was applied in order to assess material flows associated with the dynamics of different infrastructure and building types from 1971 to 2016. Our results show that the material stock expanded from 175 t/cap to 350 t/cap in the given period, leading to a 15-fold increase of annual CDW generation. With a recycling rate of only 14% from in-situ recycling of road pavements, the island is currently far away from meeting the recycling and recovery targets of the EU-WFD. For future waste management strategies, the island community requires an integrated assessment of CDW avoidance, recycling and recovery potentials. This study marks a first step in this direction.
Fetzel, Tamara, Panos Petridis, Dominik Noll, Simron Jit Singh, and Marina Fischer-Kowalski. 2018. “Reaching a Socio-Ecological Tipping Point: Overgrazing on the Greek Island of Samothraki and the Role of European Agricultural Policies.” Land Use Policy 76 (July): 21–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.04.042.
Livestock keeping and food production from grasslands play an important role in the Mediterranean region, where grazing has a long tradition and still is a key livelihood strategy. Yet, in many places widespread degradation (caused by overgrazing) severely threatens the natural resource base and prospects for future food security and sustainable development. On Samothraki, a Greek island, several decades of continuous increase of the local livestock population, exceeding not only the local food base by far but also the local farmers’ ability to provide supplementary feed, led to a socio-ecological tipping point turning the dynamics downward. Still, in the face of very restricted marketing opportunities, we find local farmers in an economic deadlock of relying on CAP subsidies as a main source of income and on still too high animal numbers for maintaining an ecological balance of their land while lacking the labor power (due to large-scale migration to Germany in the 1950s and 60 s) to apply adequate management practices. In this paper, we present a feed balance (feed-demand and supply) for sheep and goats from 1970 to 2012 and discuss causes and effects of the excessive growth in animal numbers, as well as reasons for their downturn in the last decade. We describe the island’s groundcover and symptoms of soil degradation, and underline our findings by reference to a remote sensing approach. Our findings recently gained in prominence as in September 2017, a state of emergency had to be declared on the island when a major weather event triggered a series of landslides that severely damaged the main town, a number of roads and bridges and even the 700 years old Fonias Tower, a marker of Samothraki tourism.
Petridis, P. and J. Huber. 2017. A Socio-metabolic Transition of Diets on a Greek Island: Evidence of “Quiet Sustainability”. In: "Socio-Metabolic Perspectives on the Sustainability of Local Food Systems". E. Fraňková, W. Haas, S.J. Singh (eds.). Springer, 263-289.
In the search for sustainable food systems, the Mediterranean diet occupies a prominent place, from the point of view of health, by standards of ecological sustainability and as promoting a culture of moderation and conviviality. Focusing on the Greek island of Samothraki, this chapter tells the story of a community which finds itself in the middle of a dual transition, socio-metabolically, from a traditional agrarian lifestyle to a modern industrial society, and nutritionally, towards a westernization of diets. We aim at understanding current dynamics and identify potential leverage points for sustainability, from a socio-metabolic perspective. Despite an increasing dependence on imports, our findings highlight the significant role of agricultural self-provisioning and informal food networks, as an example of “quiet sustainability”. We propose to reinforce these sustainable elements of local tradition by associating them with values that find resonance within the community, such as health, localness and quality. There is the potential to support a better utilisation of local produce and make adherence to the Mediterranean diet and culture more attractive and economically viable.
Noll, D., T. Fetzel, P. Petridis, and M. Fischer-Kowalski. 2017. Achieving sustainable small ruminant farming on Samothraki. Poster for the 6th Symposium of Research in Protected Areas, Salzburg, Austria.
The Greek island of Samothraki has undergone rapid changes in recent decades. The consequences are a wide variety of environmental but also social problems which the island community is currently facing. One of the major threats is the sharp increase in free roaming small ruminants since the 1960s, which has led to overgrazing, soil erosion and infrastructure destruction (Biel and Tan 2014). This development threatens the conservation goals of the large NATURA 2000 sites and future core area of the planned UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Fischer-Kowalski et al. 2011), covering more than two thirds of the mountainous island and parts of the adjacent marine area (Fig.1). In this presentation, we focus on our work with the local farming community in order to reduce grazing pressure on the island’s ecosystems and restore areas highly a ected by erosion.
Petridis, P., M. Fischer-Kowalski, S.J. Singh and D. Noll, 2017. The role of science in sustainability transitions: citizen science, transformative research, and experiences from Samothraki island, Greece. Island Studies Journal, 12(1): 115-134.
We highlight the importance of island research that aims to achieve sustainability transitions. All too often, developmental priorities are largely defined by economic policy imperatives, and island research either ignores or masks such normative connotations. This article reports on ten years of transdisciplinary socioecological research on the Greek island of Samothraki. We sequentially: (i) introduce socioecological thinking and the conceptual framework of social ecology, and show how this is operationalised and applied on this case study, and (ii) highlight the importance of a transdisciplinary research approach, in promoting island sustainability. We conclude with a plea for more transformative research and citizen research in the direction of sustainability within island studies.
Sustainable Mediterranean, 2016. Summer University of Samothraki 2016: Integrated Management Approaches for Biosphere Reserves and other Designated Areas, issue No 73, pp.84.
This issue of Sustainable Mediterranean is co-produced by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy); the Global Water Partnership (GWP); and the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE) in collaboration with the Institute of Social Ecology (Vienna, Alpen Adria University) and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR, Athens).
Petridis, P. and M. Fischer-Kowalski, 2016. Island Sustainability: The case of Samothraki. In: “Social Ecology: Society-Nature Relations across Time and Space" H. Haberl, M. Fischer-Kowalski, F. Krausmann, V. Winiwarter (eds.), pp.543-554.
Their very “insularity” makes islands excellent focal points for sustainability studies that systematically analyze the interactions between human activities and the environment. In this chapter, we seek to explore the factors that cause island societies to prosper and sustain themselves and those that lead to collapse. On the island we investigate (Samothraki, Greece), a number of historical cases of collapse have occurred, in the sense of breakdown of complexity and rapid population decline. At present there is a fragile situation of slow decline of population and ecological challenges that might possibly be brought to a “tipping point” by impacts of the Greek economic and governance crisis and climate change. The island community has decided to make an effort at turning the whole island into a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO standards. Building upon a sociometabolic understanding of socioecological systems and using systems thinking (and to a certain degree modeling), we try to identify environmental and social “tipping points” for Samothraki. Moreover, in line with the LTSER tradition, we argue that analyzing society-environment relations for different phases of the island’s history and insights from past collapses can help us identify threats and possible ailments. Finally, this chapter will reflect not only on the outcome but also on the process of doing transdisciplinary research, i.e. research that aims at achieving a practical outcome.
Noll, D., J.D. Huber, P. Petridis, S.J. Singh and M. Fischer-Kowalski, 2016. Socioecological Research on the Island of Samothraki. Poster for the Gordon Research Conference and Seminar on Industrial Ecology, Stowe, USA 2016.
The Greek island of Samothraki has undergone vast changes in the last five decades. The island had a typical agrarian socio-metabolic profile until the 1960s and has turned towards introducing a - however still moderate amount of - tourism, while at the same time responding to EU agricultural subsidies by increasing the number of small ruminants which threaten the conservation goals of the large NATURA 2000 area covering two thirds of the mountaineous island. Our ongoing research aims at restoring and improving the sustainability of the island, based on a systemic socioecological approach to strengthen synergies between agricultural, tourism and local services and support the island community in its efforts to turn Samothraki into a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In this presentation, we focus on the interlinkage between the livestock system and local food practices, in search for achieving synergies.
Petridis, P., 2016. Establishing a Biosphere Reserve on the island of Samothraki, Greece: A transdisciplinary journey. Sustainable Mediterranean, Special Issue, No 72, 39-41.
On the Greek island of Samothraki an unconventional story unfolds, where under the rubric of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme, the Biosphere Reserve (BR) concept has been employed in order to propose and implement an alternative vision of local development from the bottom-up. After several years of research and communication e orts, an idea in the minds of regular visiting scientists was scrutinised by the local community and gradually shared with a wider group of inhabitants and the local authorities. The community council has endorsed an application to UNESCO and committed to pursue an operational plan in the direction of sustainability, inspired by and pertaining to the BR philosophy. From a policy perspective, this –still ongoing– process has generated a unique opportunity to pre-structure, observe and re ect on a process of evolving decision-making and management towards a sustainability transformation of an island.
Fuchs, N., 2015. Sozial-ökologische Effekte der EU-Agrarsubventionen: Fallstudie zur ökologischen und ökonomischen Nachhaltigkeit der Schaf- und Ziegenzucht in Griechenland. Saarbrücken: AV Akademikerverlag.
Das Viehhaltungssystem der griechischen Insel Samothraki befindet sich in einem ökologisch und ökonomisch nicht nachhaltigen Zustand. Die Fördergelder der Gemeinsamen Europäischen Agrarpolitik boten den Landwirten Anreize, die Größe der Ziegen- und Schafherden zu steigern und so die ökologisch determinierte Grenze, natürliches Weideland, zu überwinden. Die Steigerung der Herdengröße und die Entkopplung vom primären Produktionsfaktor Weideland resultieren in einer erhöhten Abhängigkeit von externen Betriebsmitteln. Die Arbeit zeigt die Entwicklung des ehemals Weide-basierten Viehhaltungssystems der kleinen Wiederkäuer auf Samothraki auf und diskutiert die Rolle europäischer Agrarförderungen für das Ansteigen der Tierpopulation. Zusätzlich wird die Nachhaltigkeit auf betrieblicher Ebene durch den interdisziplinären MESMIS-Ansatz operationalisiert. Eine Verlängerung der Wertschöpfung sowie die Reduktion der Herdengröße führen zu einer Verbesserung der betrieblichen wie ökologischen Parameter.
Skoulikidis Ν., Α. Lampou, Ι. Karaouzas, K. Gritzalis, M. Lazaridou, S. Zogaris. 2014. Stream ecological assessment on an Aegean island: insights from an exploratory application on Samothraki (Greece). Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, 23(5), 1173-1182.
Island stream ecosystems, in contrast to continental lotic systems, have been poorly studied in the Mediterranean. Following the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) process, we applied harmonized European methods for the ecological status assessment of the streams on Samothraki Island. Located in the northern Aegean Sea (Greece), Samothraki has a steep relief dominated by a high mountain massif and significant erosion. Stream corridors are char- acterized by a high degree of naturalness, waterfalls and remarkable rock-pools often buffered with ancient riparian woodlands. Benthic macroinvertebrates and environmental data were collected in 1999, 2002, 2011 and 2012 from four streams, while chemical quality analysis was conducted for cold and hot springs. The results of stream water analysis revealed that all sites exhibit good to high chemical- physicochemical quality. Overall, low stream water con- ductivities were recorded due to the siliceous substrate. Higher major ion, nitrate and nitrite levels during high flow periods were attributed to flashing processes, whereas higher ammonia and phosphate levels in summer were due to natural (organic matter mineralization in pools) and semi-natural pressures. Cold springs revealed good drink- ing water quality, while hot springs (used for curative drinking purposes) exceeded drinking water quality stan- dards. Regarding bioassessment, stream sites varied from good to high quality, apart from one that varied from good to moderate. The unique physical character of Samothraki with perennial and intermittent running waters along with rather homogenous alternating mesohabitats (i.e. riffles, rock-pools, bedrock) requires the development of a specific methodological approach for ecological status assessment.
Rau, H., P. Gooch, A. Cardoso, A. Ruether, M.T. Wandel and P. Petridis, 2013. Focus Groups – A Vision for Samothraki in 2030. Final Report.
The Samothraki 2014 project was intended to both facilitate data collection and offer research methods training for graduate students. The qualitative module entitled ‘Focus groups and visioning’ involved future-centred focus groups with people from Samothraki (Greece). Participants were asked to talk about their vision for the island in 2030 and to discuss steps to turn that vision into practice. The concluding part of the focus group involved a questions and answers session which provided opportunities for both participants and researchers to raise and answer specific questions. Six focus groups were conducted between 3-7 May 2014, involving 37 local people from diverse economic sectors and social groups, including farming, fishing and bee keeping, tourism, public sector administration and civil society. A particular effort was made to involve adults from all age groups. All groups were organised, facilitated and translated by local people. Across all groups participants raised a number of key issues that relate to 1) current challenges affecting the island, 2) hopes for the future of Samothraki in 2030 and 3) ideas how to achieve this desired future.
Fischer-Kowalski, M., I. Pallua, L. Xenidis and S.J.Singh, 2014. Samothraki. Die Geschichte einer Insel, die sich aufmachte, ein UNESCO-Biosphärenreservat zu werden. In: Dressel, G., W.Berger, K.Heimerl, V.Winiwarter (Hg.). 2014. Interdisziplinär und transdisziplinär forschen. Praktiken und Methoden. Bielefeld: Transkript Verlag, S.239-246
Die Insel Samothraki (180 km2, knapp 3000 Einwohner) liegt im Nordosten des Ägäischen Archipels. Sie zeichnet sich durch archaische Schönheit aus und durch landschaftliche, ökologische und kulturelle Besonderheiten. Das zentrale, 1600 Meter hohe Gebirge, das circa zwei Drittel der Gesamtfläche einnimmt, ist seit 2001 Natura-2000-Schutzgebiet; vor kurzem wurde auch noch ein Meeresschutzgebiet eingerichtet. Samothraki ist bis jetzt dem Phänomen des Massentourismus entgangen. Mit nur 0,5 Tourismusbetten pro Einwohner liegt die Insel in einem Vergleich am unteren Ende der Skala (Spilanis/Vayanni 2004). Selbst in der (sehr kurzen) Hauptsaison beträgt nach unseren Ermittlungen (offizielle Statistiken sind irreführend) die Zahl der Besucher der Insel (Familienangehörige, Touristen, SaisonarbeiterInnen und ZweithausbesitzerInnen) pro Tag nur etwas mehr als das Doppelte der Einwohner. Dennoch beläuft sich ihre Zahl auf knapp 40.000 Personen jährlich. (Berechnungsmodus: Fischer-Kowalski et al. 2011: Tab.1). Gründe dafür sind die isolierte Lage der Insel (Samothraki kann nur durch eine zweistündige Überfahrt von Alexandropoli, der östlichsten Stadt auf dem griechischen Festland, erreicht werden), dass sie nur über Kiesel-, keine Sandstrände verfügt, und der Umstand, dass wegen der wechselvollen Geschichte der Insel zwischen Griechenland und der Türkei Landbesitz rechtlich oft umstritten ist (was den Verkauf großer Grundstücke für die Errichtung touristischer Anlagen erschwert).
Nichtsdestotrotz sind die Ökosysteme der Insel stark bedroht, vor allem durch Agrarsubventionen der EU, die Überweidung massiv fördern. Die Ziegenund Schafpopulationen überschreiten die geschätzte ökologische Tragfähigkeit der Insel um das Vier- bis Fünffache (Skapetas et al. 2004; Greek Ministry of Agriculture 2008). Große Flächen, auch im Bereich des Natura-2000-Schutzgebiets, werden durch beschleunigte Erosion zerstört. Ungeregelte Süßwasserentnahme trocknet trotz des großen Wasserreichtums Flüsse und deren Mündungsgebiete, besonders wichtige Hotspots für Biodiversität, zunehmend aus. Schleppnetz- und Treibnetzfischerei gefährden Arten und Habitate, die im Mittelmeer ohnehin bereits stark bedroht sind. Auch wenn die oben erwähnten Schutzbestrebungen zu rechtlich verbindlichen Maßnahmen seitens der griechischen Regierung führten, scheint der Grad der Durchsetzung eher gering zu sein und der Druck auf die Umwelt zuzunehmen. Das ansteigende Müllaufkommen und unzureichende Entsorgungsinfrastruktur schaffen zusätzliche Probleme. Lokale Nichtregierungsorganisationen (NGOs) kritisierten die Politik deshalb und forderten eine wirksame Strategie, um die Ökosysteme der Insel zu schützen.
Petridis P., R. Hickisch, M. Klimek, R. Fischer, N. Fuchs, G. Kostakiotis, M. Wendland, M. Zipperer and M. Fischer-Kowalski, 2013. Exploring local opportunities and barriers for a sustainability transition on a Greek island. Social Ecology Working Paper 142, Vienna, Austria.
Since 2007, the Institute of Social Ecology (SEC) has been conducting socioecological research on the Greek island of Samothraki. Because research is not the only aim, the institute is simultaneously supporting the local population in a process of placing the island on a path towards a sustainable future by “transforming” it into a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Based on our research, administrative efforts and networking work, an application signed by the Mayor and unanimously supported by the municipal council has been submitted by the Greek National MAB committee to UNESCO. The application, currently under review, points at including Samothraki in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Within this framework, in October 2012, we organized a 1-week student excursion to the island of Samothraki during a crucial phase of the official application process. The objectives of the course were manifold: to (a) expose students to sustainability and development challenges in a local setting seen from the perspective of social ecology, (b) reflect and engage in the design of a management plan to include initial project ideas for the new Biosphere Reserve, such as sustainable tourism, land use, water, waste and energy systems, and (c) allow for the experience of a transdisciplinary research process by learning to interact with stakeholders and conduct interviews in a culturally challenging environment.
Methodologically, during the excursion two main approaches were pursued: (a) focus group interviews with local stakeholders (such as fishermen, farmers, local professionals, elderly people in need of care etc.) in order to explore alternative visions for the future of the island and (b) distance sampling methods in order to estimate livestock densities in different area types. This was performed in order to assess the pressing problem of erosion and biodiversity loss due to overgrazing. The aim of the working paper is to provide insight into these methodological approaches and the outcome of research conducted during the course, while reflecting on some of the challenges encountered in this transdisciplinary process and those that might still arise.
Petridis Panos, 2012. Perceptions, attitudes and involvement of local residents in the establishment of a Samothraki Biosphere Reserve, Greece. Eco.mont-Journal on Protected Mountain Areas Research, 4(1): 59-63.
The process of establishing a biosphere reserve (BR) under UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme on the island of Samothraki in the NE Aegean (Greece) is conceptualized as a case study of transdisciplinarity. The point of departure has been the wish to preserve an island with unique natural and cultural heritage from potentially destructive pathways of transforming it into just another Greek beach tourist destination and to come up with an alternative development model. This has generated a unique opportunity to pre-structure, observe and reflect on a process of evolving decision making and management towards a sustainability transformation of an island. After several years of research and communication efforts, the mayor of Samothraki, with the unanimous support of the municipal council and the Greek National MAB Committee, submitted an application to UNESCO for Samothraki to be included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. A positive decision will make Samothraki the first post-Seville BR in Greece. After briefly introducing the study area, this report will discuss the opportunities of this new perspective, as well as the challenges that need to be faced, both on the ground and in people’s minds, for the island of Samothraki to become a true model of sustainable development in the wider region.
Fischer-Kowalski, M., L. Xenidis, S.J. Singh and I. Pallua, 2011. Transforming the Greek Island of Samothraki into a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: An experience in transdisciplinarity. Gaia, 20(3): 181-190.
This research explored the feasibility of transforming the island of Samothraki, Greece, into a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The goal was to assess whether this would help to foster a sustainable socio-economic development and to preserve the unique natural and cultural heritage of the island. In recent years the number of seasonal residents and tourists on the island has been growing substantially, and so, too, have the demands upon facilities and infrastructures. The number of livestock, primarily goats and sheep, has increased exponentially, enhanced by the agricultural policies of the EU. Overgrazing, in combination with the steepness of terrain, has led to severe soil erosion, even within the existing Natura 2000 conservation area. Such conditions made it apparent that a new development model was needed, and an initiative was started to create a biosphere reserve. In a transdisciplinary process, the scientists gradually transferred ownership of this vision to local stakeholders. A biophysical and socio-economic assessment showed that a biosphere reserve would be appropriate and be welcomed by the majority of stakeholders. The community council recently endorsed an application to UNESCO.