Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Planned Resort in Crete...con't

There are many reasons those opposed to this development on Crete feel it is an ecological disaster in the making. As usual, there seems to be two trains of thought.

One train carriers the bodies and minds (?) of those who see a recreational paradise that will bring prosperity to all concerned: the developers, the investors, the monastery (more on that later **wink, wink**), the citizens of Greece, everyone who visits the resort, the list is endless.

The other train carries the bodies, souls and minds of those who care more about Mother Earth than they do about excess. “If everyone took what was sufficient for their needs and rejoiced in it, everyone would have enough and be satisfied” (pippa).

Toplou peninsula and golf mix like the proverbial “oil and water.” Here’s why:

Golf has come along way from its Scottish roots when it was played out on the dunes. The players took the landscape as God gave it to them and the weather as well.

Today golf courses are created like pieces of fine artwork maintained with copious amounts of water, fertilizer and obsessive groundskeepers who tend them fiercely - keeping manicure scissors in their pockets for the odd defiant piece of grass that managed miss the cut and still stands above regulation height.

One of the reasons this development will prove to be unsustainable is not only because of the huge amounts of water the golf course will require; but, what about the other needs for water. The tourists, staff, cooking, cleaning, swimming pools, animals, the 101 other reasons we find to use not conserve water.

According to the The Overseas Investor, an online British company that helps people buy or rent properties overseas, the amenities for the Cavo Sidero project include:
- 45-hole golf complex
- Water sports facilities
- Athletics stadium
- Tennis and Equestrian centres
- Hiking trails
- Theatre and arts complex
- Retail facilities
- Conference and exhibition facilities
- Independent restaurants

This sounds like it’s going to take a lot of water to build and a lot of water to maintain.

But wait! The developers have a plan. They will desalinate the water required. Sounds good superficially; but, a large desalination factory will do further damage to the ecosystem. The desalination factory will require energy from somewhere in order to run so either a large area of land will have to be covered with solar collectors or it will demand a large supply of energy which is scarce in Crete. Disposing of the salt will be an environmental challenge as well.

As luck would have it, this corner of Crete is a biological wonderland with special vegetation adapted to drought or salt; and, includes some of the world’s rarest plants. Many semi-deserts are rich in diverse species and this spot is no exception: tiny, paintbox smudges of colour arise with winter’s rains and leave before summer. One of the largest areas of a special Cretan palm tree, Vai, is a palm grove found in a small part of the peninsula.

The peninsula also has great archaeological importance. A wealth of information stands to be gained by unearthing the treasures stored in the soil below.

In antiquity it was farmland. During Greek and Roman times, it supported the city of Itanos, a large commercial port, until the decline of the Byzantine empire. Then came the corsairs; pirates especially haunted this corner of Crete, where they preyed on passing ships and raided on land. With the fall of Itanos the peninsula became untenable, and remained uninhabited for a thousand years. As a consequence, Neolithic and Minoan farms, terraces and fields and check-dams of ancient Greek and Byzantine cultivators survive on a landscape-wide scale. The workings of the farmed countryside of Mediterranean antiquity can clearly be seen.

In other countries, the region would long ago have been designated a national park. It is a part of Crete belatedly designated for conservation under the Natura 2000 scheme, which is utterly inconsistent with large-scale development.

The end of the mystery next blog.


kathi said...

I'm so glad you're writing more about this. My first thoughts when seeing the photo and first blog were of Homer and "The Odyssey." I have to admit my love of travel weighed in and I had to question where I would stay, what I would like about a nice resort, etc. Knowing more about the ecological damage effects my POV. You're a good teacher, P!

Pippa said...

With any luck, my good friend, you will be walking in, sleeping rough and bringing ALL your garbage out with you!!