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Cretan Habitat Seriously Threatened

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Crete's Karteros beach has experienced a recent wetland decay that is seriously threatening its habitat, along with other regions.

As reported by Kathimerini, WWF Greece Wetland Expert Kaloust Paragamian described, "The wetland which you see today is only part of what it once was...Interestingly the authorities had launched a plan for its protection a few decades ago. The stretches of land next to the beach were expropriated, but over the years you could see buildings popping up illegally, even right on the river mouth".

Heavy flooding occurred as a result of the construction of golf courses along the coast. Illegal developments characterize the region, with caravans and makeshift housing. Paragamian stated, "None of the illegal constructions has been demolished. Last year we filed a suit against all those responsible".

Additionally, two more wetland areas on the island are being threatened, due to neglect and illegal operations. The WWF Expert commented on Crete's Almyros river, "It is a wetland of great importance but it has been systematically undermined since the late 1960s. About 50 percent of its current area is covered in waste".

The WWF expert further commented on the Aposelemi region, "This area too is a classic example of an anything-goes attitude...Part of the river was recently filled in by the construction team in charge of the Aposelemi dam to create a bank for water pipes. We referred the issue to a prosecutor, but our efforts proved fruitless".

The WFF has determined 196 Cretan wetlands, with 108 categorized as natural. Kaloust Paragamian described, "Overall the situation on the island is challenging. The majority of Crete's wetlands – particularly those on the island's northern coast – have been systematically degraded over the past 50 years. Only 39 of the wetlands were found by WWF monitors to be in good shape".