Visit to the Environmental Education Centre of Ierapetra


On March 7-8, a group of 22 students and 2 teachers visited the Environmental Education Centre in the coastal city of Ierapetra, south-east Crete, to attend a two days seminar about forests entitled "Pines and Garrigue".

Our students had already prepared a presentation about different types of forests in Crete and together with the trainers of the Environmental Education Centre, they exchanged knowledge and ideas on forest issues such as their importance in our daily lives, the threats they face and ways to protect them. Using games and drama techniques, the students learned about how to effectively take action for the protection of the environment.

On the second day, the whole team hiked through the pine forest of Koutsouras which is located between the sea and the south slope of Thrypti mountain. We had the chance to see, smell and touch the trees and bushes we talked about on the previous day. We hiked through the bank of a dry river, too. It was quite adventurous but also worrying since there was not much rain this winter in Crete because of the climate change.

The most amazing site in the forest was the entrance of a gorge called "the gorge of red butterflies". You have to climb up a steep ladder on a sharply sloped rock to enter it! Since we are daredevils...we climbed it up and took some amazing photos!

On our way back, we had to pay our tribute to nature and this beautiful landscape. Out trainers stressed the great importance of garrigue not only to biodiversity, but also to ecosystem services. Garrigue is a type of low, soft-leaved, much-branched woody shrub, generally found near the seacoast where the moderated Mediterranean climate provides annual summer drought. Because it is resistant to elements of nature, garrigue is very important where there is little or no forest at all as it protects the land from turbulent climatic variations such as floods, strong winds, etc. In the case of Koutsouras pine forest, which suffered a devastating fire in 1993, garrigue serves as a protector to the new pines beginning to grow in the area. And this where our students played their part: they dug trenches around some garrigue and made low stone fences so that rain water can be held and help reforestation. The work of our students was exemplary!

"The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein."
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