K. Papadoyiannaki1, K. Tsakiris2, Th. Koussouris3, K. Mavrelis4

and I. Ζacharias3

118th  Primary School, Ampelokipi, 11525, Athens, Greece

2National Centre of Social Research, 11510, Athens, Greece

3National Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Inland Waters, 16604, Athens, Greece

4Centre of Environmental Education, Thermo 30008, Aetoloakarnania, Greece





The present paper deals with the adoption and care of vulnerable areas of Trichonis wetland, Greece, through the action of environmental education in practice. The great contribution of environmental education concerning the approach of area’s problems, their available solution is indicated, while, among various activities, the discrimination and information about local environmental issues, the public awareness, the creation of motives, means and mechanisms for the gradual amelioration of local environment, the active participation of the society, the change of traditional attitudes and concepts and the sustainable development of the area are intended.







Κ. Παπαδογιαννάκη1,  Κ. Τσακίρης2, Θ. Κουσουρής3, Κ. Μαυρέλης4

και Ι. Ζαχαρίας3

118ο Δημοτικό Σχολείο Αμπελοκήπων, 11525, Αθήνα

2Εθνικό Κέντρο Κοινωνικών Ερευνών, 11510, Aθήνα

3Εθνικό Κέντρο Θαλασσίων Ερευνών, Ινστιτούτο Εσωτερικών Υδάτων, 16604, Αθήνα

4Κέντρο Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευση, Θέρμο 30008, Αιτωλοακαρνανία





Η παρούσα εργασία ασχολείται με την υιοθεσία και φροντίδα οικολογικά ευαίσθητων περιοχών του υγροτόπου της Τριχωνίδας μέσω της περιβαλλοντικής εκπαίδευσης. Παρουσιάζονται τα προβλήματα της περιοχής, διερευνώνται οι προσφορότερες λύσεις τους, ενισχύεται η συλλογικότητα  και ο εθελοντισμός, ενώ  σημαίνουσα είναι η θέση και η συνεισφορά της περιβαλλοντικής εκπαίδευσης, στα τοπικά περιβαλλοντικά θέματα, στην αφύπνιση της κοινωνίας, στη δημιουργία κινήτρων, μέσων και μηχανισμών για τη σταδιακή βελτίωση του τοπικού περιβάλλοντος, στην ενεργό συμμετοχή του πληθυσμού και στην αειφόρο ανάπτυξη της περιοχής.




In the framework of the Life-Nature program of the European Union, the research project dealing with the protection of a specific wetland type ‘‘ the calcareous fens’’ in Trichonis lake, western Greece is in progress [1]. This project anticipates, among others, and apart from the protection of sensitive wetland ecosystems, the additional sensitization of local society to the more acute environmental problems of the area.


Specifically, the efforts look forward that the Environmental Education become an instrument of a more efficient distinguishing of local environmental problems, but also of awareness and sensitization of people and a basis for the protection and management of ecologically vulnerable areas [2]. Nevertheless, possibilities and prospects are offered as much for the investigation of local environmental issues, as for the approach-solution of problems, which are connected with the environment and the sustainable development. All the above is not so simple. It is a complex process, which with the help of learning and the active involvement in a practical and theoretical frame, intends to push forward [3,4]:

-the awareness of local society about the values and the importance of protection of the ecological sensitive regions,

-the creation of motives, means and mechanisms for the gradual amelioration of local environment, with the active participation of  local administration, of regional authorities and the voluntary work of areal population,

-the active participation of pupils, through accessible and easy environmental activities, which might be fulfilled inside and around the school (adoption and continuous care of  some areas, proposition and initiatives for the upgrading of  degraded regions, for supporting activities, speeches, expositions of photography and paintings, happenings e.t.c.),

-the change of traditional attitudes and concepts of local population in respect of environment, its protection and the development.


The area under study and its main environmental characteristics are as follow [1]: Trichonis lake is the largest lake in Greece and from ecological point of view it is one of the most important natural lakes in Greece. In spite of human activities the lake conserve a significant variety of flora and fauna, as well as natural beauty and beautiful scenery. The lake ensure the water supply and irrigation of the surrounding area and are ideal for fishing and recreation, also having scientific and educational interests. One of the most endangered habitat types of Europe, the ‘‘calcareous fens’’ has been found at the south side of the lake and is included in the Annex II of the Habitat Directive [1], as a priority for conservation habitat type. Restoration and conservations plans have been formulated, while the human impacts will be minimized if there was increased public awareness mainly through the environmental education.




In order that all the above be achieved, it is required in a first stage the active participation of the schools near Trichonis lake in activities of adoption and care of ecologically vulnerable areas [5], like the lakeside areas, the river-beds, the torrents, the priority for protection habitat of the area (calcareous fens), the small wood of Fraxos, the by the lake wood-galleries etc) [1]. Especially these activities aim at:

-the protection of calcareous fens in the area,

-the surveillance and the safe-guarding of ecologically sensitive sites even there, where man-made activities threaten those areas,

-the sensitization and the awareness of local population in respect of the more important problems, which have an impact to the wetland ecosystems and the sustainable development of the region.

In the framework of this activity, a defined plan of action is materialized, which is not confined inside the school year, but it has a continuity and consistency during a time range for the next years too. It is not a project having a time ending. It is a way of life and an overall behaviour  toward the surrounding, neighboring place, to the area where the pupils, their teachers, their parents and  their fellow countrymen live. It does not concern the present only but also the future. Not just ‘‘formality’’ but also ‘‘substance’’. For that reason, it is only a framework of activities, which are not made only for a school year or one classroom [6,7].


Starting the activities from the elementary school or even from the first classes of junior high school, we must not forget, that the children are the future and also the best ’’promoters’’ of environmental issues inside the social web where they live. We try therefore, having the children as a guide, to make overall this society sensitive for an issue that concerns all of us [8,9]. The children’s adopting, caring and protecting the ecologically vulnerable areas, the children who live here, their environment, are a guarantee for the future, their future.


‘‘Adopt and Care’’ an area means that [5,7]:

-An environmental project of action is drawn up, which defines what kind of activities and how and through what means will be materialized, in every individual case, by the communities of pupils.

-An ‘‘environmental arrangement’’ is co-signed by the school and the Local Authorities, but also by the agents that can contribute to the activity. In some way, under this arrangement, the school has  the obligation to fulfill its commitments and the authority carriers have to support the activities by providing the means and the material for the realization of the plan of action.


It is important, in all that affair, that the activity is accomplished, and therefore the program of adoption, and not to stay on the paper as project of action. The particular environment we have adopted and we care is related to all of us [2,5,7]. The ‘‘adoption’’ as an example may concern [10]:

-Surveillance and care of ecologically sensitive areas.

-Participation and campaign for the cleaning and the safe-guarding of regions beared by pollution and uncontrolled disposal of solid wastes, trash, debris and bulky useless objects in river-beds, torrents, channels, but also in lakeside areas.

-Propositions for aesthetic and essential upgrading of the degraded areas.

-Creation of  prototype ‘‘nurseries’’ (using the furnished seeds by an authority carrier) inside the school, for the plants of the lakeside zone, that need protection, having the aim to transplant them in concrete areas.

-Creation of printed informative material with the aim to inform the society, having the collaboration of a work team, about the issues for the protection of the ecologically vulnerable areas.




It is pointed out, that the active participation of Local Authorities and the authority carriers is necessary, while an important place is occupied by the ‘‘Environmental Education’’ (EE), through which is possible to push forward activities and acts, which will contribute decisively to the sensitization and the awareness of the local society [2,3,4]. Also, for the approach-solution of local environmental problems and the sustainable development, an effort is in progress through the environmental education which is directed to the ecologically sensitive regions of Trichonis wetland [1]. Thus, we put on a scale below, not only the needed activities and acts, they have already been assumed or it is expected they will be adopted by the authorities and the people, but also propositions, ideas and initiatives of support of areas schools through the environmental education [10].


3.1 Uncontrolled disposals

The ecological vulnerable areas of Trichonis wetland are suffered from the uncontrolled disposal of garbage, debris and bulky objects in river-beds, torrents, hems of streets, channels, but also in lakeside areas [1].


3.1.1 Required acts of local authority carriers      

-Removal of garbage, debris and bulky objects from fixed places of pilot display.

-Transportation of refuse in a legal rubbish dump.

-Arrangement of the space where the removal has happened and the aesthetic upgrading of the areas.

-More garbage baskets and containers for debris and bulky useless objects.

-Means of averting the rejection of garbage once in the same region.

-Sensitization of inhabitants about the garbage and the rejections.

-Means and measures for the reversion of the today’s situation in relation to the garbage (for example indication marks, tablets, planting of trees, ecological fencing and other ideas).



3.1.2 Propositions, ideas and initiatives of support from the schools (Environmental Education).

-Propositions for appropriate formation of the space.

-Propositions for sign-posting for the prohibitive waste disposal.

-Participation in the planting of trees.

-Outlines of ecological fencing.

-Adoption and care of the ecologically sensitive areas.

-Letters to local authorities, carriers and responsible agents.

-Propositions for a possible making worthy of the garbage and the recent international experience.

-Construction and hanging of posters, collages, stickers in the near-social surrounding (city hall, coffee house, super market, local associations, taverns etc.).

-Open discussions in the classrooms, in the school association of teachers, in the city council etc.

-Announcement of the work in the wider social frame (school, parents, social surrounding).

-Resumption of initiatives for:

  a. Adoption and care of some areas.

  b. Regular and intermittent visit for the surveillance of the area.

  c. Calendar of visits and registration of the situation through pictures before-during and after.

 d. Calendar of environmental acts.

 -Continuous feedback and lasting interest (visits, surveillance, taking pictures, registration of situation, care, awareness, etc.).



3.2 Calcareous fens and lake water fluctuations

The main problems from environmental point of view are the shrinkage of the regions of calcareous fens and the absence of rational management of lake water fluctuations [1].


3.2.1 Required acts of local authority carriers      

-Means and measures for stopping the illegal expansion of agricultural lands toward the lakeside areas.

-Continuous control of lake’s level fluctuation and subsurface aquifer, which may have catastrophic impacts on the calcareous fens.

-Control of every kind of rejections (refuse, debris, sewage, waste) that create impacts to the local environment.

- Means and measures of immediate stopping of draining in humid and peaty soils, where the swamps exist. It is noticed, that the whole process of draining of such regions does not render cultivated land, it is painful, expensive and against the environment, as much for the water of the region, as for its fauna and flora.

-  Means and measures for the as much as possible small fluctuation of lake’s level and also in subsurface aquifer.

- Local control of every kind of rejections in lakeside and the surrounding areas.

- Others.


3.2.2 Propositions, ideas and initiatives of support from the schools (Environmental Education).

- Propositions of ecological ringing.

- Propositions for an appropriate ecological fencing.

- Outlines and propositions for the parking areas in the regions of eco-touristic interest.

- Active participation and encouragement for the reintroduction in the area of its flora and fauna.

-  Others.


3.3 Reed –bed management

The absence of management of reed-beds and their uncontrolled expansion are major issues from ecological point of view [1].


3.3.1 Required acts of local authority carriers      

-  Management of the reed-beds according to ecological criteria in order that problems be avoided; a. of their uncontrolled expansion, and b. of premature aging and waste of the region of swamps and other wetland areas.

-  Means and measures of avoiding the uncontrolled burning and cutting of reeds.

-  Others.


3.3.2 Propositions, ideas and initiatives of support from the schools (Environmental Education).

-  Propositions of alternative management of reed-beds.

-  Active participation and encouragement for the reintroduction of native fauna and flora.

-  Surveillance and inspection of the uncontrolled burning and cutting of reeds.

-  Others.


3.4 Fertilizers and pesticides

The uncontrolled use of fertilizers and pesticides is a common practice in the area that have to be minimized[1]. 


3.4.1 Required acts of local authority carriers.

-  Research about the type and the quantity of agrochemicals that are used in the region and per cultivation.

-  Study for the ways of the best use and application of agro-chemicals.

-  Study for the role that plays the natural flora and the remainder of the harvest in relation to the natural fertilization of the soils.

-  Ground, cultivation and fertilizing are the triptych of success, but also of failure for more rendering crops.

-  Others.


3.4.2 Propositions, ideas and initiatives of support from the schools (Environmental Education).

- Search of information and informative discussions from qualified authority carriers about the kind of the slightest ‘‘strengthening’’ that the soil of the region needs, per cultivated plants and the periods of application.

- Official information about the amount of damage-during a long time period- that the region might suffer, because of the inconsiderate use of fertilizers and pesticides.

- Others.      

All that should be dissipated toward all the levels of programs of  ‘‘Environmental Education’’ is that [7]:

‘‘Before we start the investigation of nature together with the children, let’s think for one minute our role as teachers or as responsible for one team of children. The basis of five principles of the teaching about nature is the respect toward the children and the nature. A similar behaviour gains certainly the response of the children.


More generally those principles are coded in the followings:

a.        Teach less and share more. It is very important for an adult to share his internal world together with a child. Only if we share our deeper thoughts and feelings, we can communicate and inspire to other peoples love and respect for nature.

b.       You should be receptive, that means to listen and you ought be always in wakefulness, and you should observe what happens in nature around you every minute, because almost always something interesting and exciting is unwinded.

c.        You should be sensitive because every comment, every laugh, every exclamation, is a chance for communication, therefore you ought be responsive to the mood of children and their feelings.

d.       Prick the attention of children without delay and provoke as much as possible the attention of every one, asking questions and outlining interesting images and sounds.

e.        See and know first, discuss later because there are moments when the images of nature attract the attention of children’’.



‘‘Adopt and Care’’ an ecologically vulnerable area is not restricted only to the information and sensitization, but it is entangled, it has ‘‘a word to say’’ and an active participation to the management and the protection of local environment [4,5,7]. Among else it is seeked after, not only the showing and the fermentation of the problem in the school, the family and the local society, but also their active participation to plans of multiple actions. Those plans of actions concern every form of participation of pupils to the protection and care of the adopted regions and they are not restricted only to acts of awareness, information and sensitization of local society, but also to the incorporation of local population to the management of the region, to the voluntary work, to proposition toward the competent authority carriers and the exertion of pressure to them [7,10]. Additionally aiming at the observance of the environmental legislation [2,6].


Moreover it is accepted today that: ‘‘ It is not purposeful the subject of Environmental Education to be transformed to a classroom lesson,…..The official –through the daily school program- insertion of environmental education to the educational process, means its convention, to a similar, like the presently existing, traditional courses, with the known sad results. The voluntary tendency of the contributors as a guarantee of no assimilation by the institutions, is offered for the better and more sustainable course of the Environmental Education’’[3].




1.      Zacharias I. and T. Koussouris (Eds) (2001) ‘Action for the protection of calcareous fens in Trichonis lake’ Technical Report, Vol., I, II, III, IV, V, VI, NCMR/IIW forsensitive areaNature’99 (in Greek with English summary).

2.   Mavrelis K. (Ed) (1997) ‘Sustainable development with the environmental education’, Special Edition Aetoloakarnania Prefecture, Mesologi, 496 p. (in Greek with English summary).

3.      Georgopoulos G. and E. Tsaliki (1993) ‘Environmental education. Principles, methodology, philosophy, games, exercises’ Ed. Gutenberg, Athens (in Greek).

4.      Palmer J. (2001) ‘Environmental education in the 21st century. Theory, practice, progress and promise’ Ed. Routledge, London.

5.      General Secretariat of Young People (1999) ‘Adopt and protect. Project of ecological activities for young and school children communities’ Ministry of Education, Athens (in Greek).

6.      Koussouris T. and A. Athanasakis (1994) ‘Environment, Ecology, Education’, Ed. Savvala, Athens (in Greek).

7.      Cornell J. (1994) ‘Sharing nature with children’ Greek Edition, Paratiritis, Athens.

8.      Athanasakis A., T. Koussouris and S. Kontaratos (1997) ‘Ecology and environment’ 2nd class of Comprehensive Lyceum, Ed 13th, Ministry of Education, Athens (in Greek).

9.      Athanasakis A., T. Koussouris and S. Kontaratos (2001) ‘Principles of environmental Sciences’ 2nd class of Lyceum, Ed 4th, Ministry of Education, Athens (in Greek).

10.  http://www.life-trichonis.gr