Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN)
The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN) is the oldest environmental Non Governmental Organisation in Greece. It was founded in 1951 by a group of prominent citizens who, as trekkers, mountaineers and scientists, were intimately acquainted with Greek nature and shared a common love for it.
At a time when the term "environment" was not even part of our everyday vocabulary, the founding members of HSPN were visionaries who foresaw the threats looming ahead from uncontrolled development and from the lack of protective legislation. To meet these threats they set out to inform and increase the awareness of the Greek public, as well as of all those who love Greece, about the value of our natural heritage and the need to protect it.
Since its earliest years, the HSPN played a decisive role in the establishment of our National Parks, in the setting up of protected areas and in the protection of threatened flora and fauna species. To do this, it has drawn on the specialized knowledge of its members and friends, many of whom are scientists. Throughout the years, all its work has been done by volunteers who have devoted their efforts and given their time entirely freely. A good example of this is the former General Secretary, the late Byron Antipas, who was authorized by the State to represent Greece officially at the signing of the Ramsar Convention, and who even travelled to Persia entirely on his own means.
The HSPN is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the European Centre for Nature Conservation (ECNC) and the European Union for Coastal Conservation (EUCC). It has represented the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE) in Greece since 1992, and today it coordinates all of FEE’s educational and awareness-raising programmes in Greece.
Today we continue in the steps of our founding members, and we are active in:
- Environmental Education of schoolchildren: the HSPN runs five international and national Environmental Education Programmes, approved by the Ministry of National Education.
- Environmental awareness raising and ecological management: the HSPN is the national operator for the international Blue Flag Programme, which aims at the protection and sustainable management of organized beaches and marinas in our country. It is also the national operator for the international Green Key Programme, which aims at the sustainable management of tourism facilities of every kind and size.
- Conservation and Environmental Management: the HSPN has participated in a variety of relevant projects including, among others, the LIFE Project for the Nestos river, the management project for Konstantio Lagoon in the Amvrakikos wetlands, the “Otter Trail” in the Arachthos river, the restoration and protection project for the oak forest of Foloi, and the production of a special edition for the Natura 2000 sites in Greece.
- Interventions against environmental threats: These interventions (written complaints, press releases, etc.) point out to the relevant authorities any actions contravening national and European environmental legislation, and aim at the prevention of damage to the natural environment. Each year the HSPN handles more than 30 such cases, in an effort to limit degradation or destruction of habitats, illegal land use, etc. In cases where there are serious threats to major habitats in our country, the HSPN, in cooperation with other national environmental NGOs, has taken legal action by appealing to the Greek Council of State or the European Commission. Such cases include, among others, the legal action against the Acheloos Diversion project, the Olympic Rowing Centre in the wetland of Schinias and the planned Diversion of the Nestos river.
Because of its operating philosophy, and also as a long-standing member of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), the HSPN has paid special attention to the field of environmental education. We recognize like most people that a youth made sensitive to and aware of the needs of the environment is the best bulwark for its defense in the future. Today we coordinate 5 educational networks in approximately 1,600 schools throughout the country. Three of these networks are the well-known FEE programmes, Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment and Learning about Forests.
Two other programmes have been set up by the HSPN entirely on its own initiative: these are a Litter-Free Nature and Green Neigbourhoods. The first creates teams of volunteers who work with local authorities in municipalities, and together they find ways and means to handle waste and to combat all forms of litter pollution in their areas. The second is aimed at children who are encouraged to explore and learn about wildlife in their own small scale urban environments. They are called upon to observe and to interact with nature (plants and animals) in the field, in all its little refuges in towns and cities.
The HSPN is proud to be a member of FEE and to participate actively in all its Programmes and various related activities.
HSPN publishes a quarterly magazine called “I Fysi” (Nature) and, bi-annually, the magazine “Phyllaraki” (Little Leaf) for the educational community. It has also published a variety of books on Greek nature.
Since 1998, it has established the Byron Antipas Award, which it has given regularly since then to individuals or non governmental bodies that have consistently, effectively and selflessly contributed to the protection of Greek nature and the environment in general.
For its work, HSPN has received awards for the Academy of Athens, the Council of Europe and the Ford Foundation.
You can contact the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature at:
20 Nikis St., 105 57 Athens, Greece
Phone: +30210 3224944, +30210 3314563, Fax: +30210 3225285