In the context of the program “Eco-Conscious Minds to Stop Pollution in the Valuable Wetlands of Black Sea Basin” – BIOLEARN, the Management Body of the Evros Delta and Samothraki Protected Areas, with the support and valuable assistance of the environmental organization iSea, organized and successfully completed a two-day workshop.
The main purpose of this meeting was to exchange information, experiences and knowledge regarding the current state of wetlands of interest in relation to waste, as well as ways to address this issue through information and education. In addition, the creation and formulation of a common manual of best practices was discussed, which will aim at educating and raising awareness of different groups of people, for the protection of wetlands and the risk of their pollution.
Due to the prevailing epidemiological situation, the meeting took place on 15 and 16 October 2020, via teleconference, which was attended by distinguished scientists, educators and experts in various fields related to the management and protection of the environment and waste, NGOs and environmental organizations and others.
A brief description of the program and the speeches is given below:
At the beginning of the first day, I-sea started the workshop welcoming and introducing the participants.
The project partners presented the current state of litter in their areas:
- The representative of the Division Directorate of National Parks of Edirne, Nazli Vildiz Donmez, presented the current state of litter in Gala Lake, Turkey. The presentation mentioned the origin of the litter, how pollution from agricultural and recreational activities, eutrophication and pollution from chemicals and nutrias in water affect the habitat and presented with statistical analysis which types of litter are most recorded in the area as well as suggestions for avoiding pollution.
- The representative of the non-governmental organization “Agricola” Volodymyr Poltorak, presented the current state of litter in the Basin of water resources of the Black Sea and the Lower Danube rivers in Ukraine. The presentation mentioned the two types of litter that appear in the area. Effluent and litter. The sources of pollution in the area were mentioned and more specifically the sources of marine litter were analyzed. Some of those mentioned are merchant ships, military fleets, pleasure craft, offshore oil and gas platforms and aquaculture installation. A digital database showing the location of the litter was presented, as well as photographs of various types of litter.
- The representative of the Caucasus Environment Foundation, Manana
Devidze presented the current state of litter in the Kolkheti National Park, Georgia. The main sources of wetland pollution, such as industry, agriculture, fisheries and waste from local households were mentioned, as well as the pollutants produced by the industrial sector in the Kolkheti area. A map was presented with the active and closed official landfills in the Kolkheti area and areas with hazardous waste.
- The representative of the Green Balkans-Stara Zagora NGO, Dimitar Popov presented the current state of litter in Promorie Lake, Bulgaria. A brief presentation of the wetland and the legal status prevailing in the area was made. Then the most recorded types of waste are presented which belong to the category of artificial polymeric materials as well as on paper and the places where each type of waste is located are indicated through a map.
- The representatives of the Management Body of Evros Delta and Samothraki Protected Areas and I-sea, Eleni Makrigianni and Anastasia Charitou, presented the current state of litter in Evros Delta, Greece. A brief reference was made to the wetland, the legal status and the activities that take place in it. The results from the sampling carried out in the Evros Delta for the existence of microplastics were presented and the types of litter recorded in the field were reported. Artificial polymeric materials such as plastic bags and plastic water bottles were recorded in a larger percentage and the second place is occupied by paper.
Three presentations of experts followed:
Anna Maria Addamo from the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) presented the research ‘’Marine Litter in Black Sea, proposals for addressing the cross border issue.’’ A presentation on marine litter in Europe and specifically in the Black Sea and the various effects that they have. Programs that have been implemented or are being implemented were presented, as well as steps and actions that could be taken to improve the problem of marine litter.
Chrissi Karapanagioti, Associate Professor in the University of Patras, presented the research ‘’Possible sources of microplastic pollution, suggestions for proper waste management and emerging difficulties.’’ A presentation on the importance of microplastics as litter and the effects they can have on human health. The ways in which microplastics end up in the environment were presented and ideas and suggestions were given for the reduction of litter and microplastics.
Utku Güner from the Trakya University, Faculty of Sicence, Biology Department presented the research ‘’Identifying regional issues regarding the danger of river-borne and marine litter to biodiversity.’’ A presentation on the importance and function of wetlands as well as the importance of biodiversity and specifically in the Meric Delta. Reference was made to wetland pollution and how it affects biodiversity.
Αt the end of first day of the workshop there was an open discussion between all the participants for topics presented and contributing to the creation of the Manual of Best Practices. It was mentioned and discussed to which groups the manual will be addressed and it was deemed necessary to target mainly students, schools and teachers of all levels of education. Teachers through teaching and information can influence and guide children, who are very powerful tools and can make a difference and change for a better future. In addition, the content of the manual was discussed and whether other pollutants should be included besides plastic, which is the predominant wetland pollutant.
During the second day of the workshop, the meeting started with 4 presentations of experts:
- Bilgesu Tutal, Nature Protection Training Coordinator presented ‘’Proposed methodologies and materials for the Trainings Sets.’’ Bilgesu presented examples of educational materials from various projects and also presented her proposal for the 12 training sets that will be produced during BIOLEARN.
- Thomais Vlachogianni, Policy Officer, MIO-ECSDE presented ‘’Interfacing science, politics and society for addressing marine litter.’’ The problems caused by litter in the seas and the shores of the Mediterranean, especially plastic, were presented and solutions and measures were proposed that should have priority for the fight against plastic in the Mediterranean region. It also mentions the need to awaken the community and citizens by making them part of the solution.
- Athanasios Mogias, Assistant Professor from the Democritus University of Thrace presented the research “The framework of Ocean Literacy.’’ He was referred to the importance of children and students of all levels of school, to understand the important role of the oceans in human life, through marine literacy. He also mentioned the various forums organized every year in different parts of the world in order to find ways to communicate marine sciences to citizens.
- Sofia Petridou, Pre-school Educator presented “Become kookoonari”, an experiential education project. This program was created in order to educate people in relation to the reduction of school litter. Its purpose is to educate adults and children to achieve waste reduction through various workshops and actions.
At the end of the second and last day of the workshop there was an open discussion between all the participants for topics presented and contributing to the creation of the Manual of Best Practices as well as the content of the 12 Training Sets. The titles for each training set were analyzed and a change to two of them was suggested. The division of the 12 training sets into subgroups was also discussed, depending on the requirements of each age group and what they may include, such as information and analysis on each topic of the training sets, activities on each title that will be divided according to the age of the target audience and ideas for waste reduction and how they can be implemented.