P.A. Gerakis
Founder and President of the Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre

P.A. Gerakis passed away on May 1st 2010 after a chronic illness which he faced with dignity and courage.

Through his scientific, academic, educational, managerial and consulting work P.A. Gerakis promoted the preservation of ecosystems, focusing on wetlands, as well as maintaining high standards of scientific validity and personal integrity.

His absence is a great loss for all of us.





The Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre (or EKBY by its Greek initials) has its roots in the Goulandris Natural History Museum. The Museum was established in Athens in 1964 as a non-profit institute for research, public awareness, information, and education in the conservation of the natural environment. Its present premises (3,500 m2) include a large herbarium, zoological and geological collections, exhibition halls, a library, and laboratories (Entomology, Botany, Geology, Hydrobiology, Biotechnology, Herpetology, Ornithology, and Information). As an extension of the Museum an Environmental Research and Education Centre (11,000 m2), also known as the "Gaia Centre", is under construction.

The Museum's work has received national and international recognition. It has been honoured by the Academy of Athens (1978), the Greek Red Cross (1987), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (1988) and the Alexandros Onassis Foundation (1990), while the Council of Europe named it European Museum of the Year in 1983. Mrs. Niki Goulandris, the Museum's President, was named "Woman of Europe" for 1991. Presently she is a member of the World Commission for Culture and Development formed by UNESCO.

EKBY has adopted the policies and nature conservation principles of the Museum. It was established in 1991 by the Museum with European Community funding and the support of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), following an application by the Greek Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works. EKBY is based at Thermi, close to the city of Thessaloniki, where its facilities are located.

- Principles of operation
Fields of action
Staff and infrastructure
Network of communication and collaboration
EKBY's specific contribution to conservation approaches
The future
Quality management system at EKBY











EKBY's overall objective is to promote the sustainability of renewable natural resources in Greece and in the rest of Europe and the Mediterranean region.

The specific objectives are:




EKBY is active in the following fields:

Natural areas management

E X A M P L E S   O F   P R O J E C T S / A C T I V I T I E S

Specifications of management plans for protected areas: Drawing up of specifications and guidelines based on Greek and foreign experience, for the preparation of management plans. Elaboration of specifications of specific management plans for Natura 2000 sites.

Conservation and management of sites of Community Importance in Greece (Directive 92/43/EEC): Preparation of management plans for 10 sites which had been proposed for inclusion in the Natura 2000 Network. Organisation of public awareness campaigns. Preparation of a monitoring guide for Natura 2000 sites.

Wise use of irrigation water at Ramsar sites: Economic and technical ex-ante evaluation of the Prespa irrigation scheme. Evaluation of the Axios irrigation scheme and identification of ways to increase irrigation efficiencies so as to prevent the disruption of the Delta's functions. Survey of the irrigation water use in the Kerkini area, which showed several options of wise management of water resources that would lead to the preservation of the lake's multiple functions.

Ecological studies (Agios Mamas lagoon, Kalamas Delta, Rivers Nestos and Strymon wetland forests): Collection of data on the ecological conditions with the aim of formulating management proposals.

Wetland restoration: An approach was developed to evaluate the various solutions proposed since 1960 on the restoration of former Lake Karla. The evaluation was based on the degree to which these solutions contribute to the restoration of the wetland functions. For this purpose, a technique based on GIS was used. Preliminary studies aiming at the restoration of other drained wetlands (Lake Mavrouda, Drana lagoon) were also prepared by EKBY.

Organisation of management bodies: Project steered by the Ministry of Environment, to organise local management bodies which will, as a first step, undertake to operate the public awareness and the wardening infrastructure in 8 Ramsar wetlands.

Scientific and technical information

E X A M P L E S   O F  P R O J E C T S / A C T I V I T I E S

Inventory of Greek wetlands as natural resources: This activity was the first approximation to inventory the Greek wetlands in order to create a national archive of wetland information. Abiotic and biotic features, values, uses, threats and positive actions were recorded and a concise database of the above was created. Inventory sheets have been completed for about 400 wetland sites and have been published in a 587 page volume, which was also translated into English. A digitised thematic map was produced showing all wetlands of Greece classified according to area size and type. Four thematic maps (environmental impacts due to human activities, resource depletion, changes in water regime, and uses) were also produced.

Inventory, identification, evaluation and mapping of the habitat types and flora and fauna species in Greece (Directive 92/43/EEC): Data on 296 sites hosting habitat types and flora and fauna species of Community interest were collected and processed with the full support and steering of the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture (General Secretariat for Forests and the Natural Environment). A documented and evaluated scientific list of proposed sites of Community Importance in Greece was prepared to help the Greek state establish and operate the European Network of Special Areas of Conservation (Natura 2000) in Greece.

Collection and analysis of data on the vegetation of Greece (or Inventory of Greek vegetation): This activity was carried out in collaboration with the “European Union for Vegetation Survey”. Its main purpose was to set the foundation for the creation in the future of a phytosociological map and a complete syntaxonomical classification of the vegetation units of Greece. Information gaps were identified and a data base of phytosociological measurements (releves) and the pertinent references was formed.

European Environmental Agency: EKBY is a partner in the European Topic Centre for Nature Conservation (ETC/NC) of the European Environmental Agency (EEA). It has also been appointed by the Greek Ministry of Environment as the EEA's National Reference Centre for Nature in Greece.

Greek and EU Environmental Legislation: Preparation and publication of a book presenting Greek and EU environmental legislation, which makes available to all concerned citizens the potentialities offered by the existing environmental laws in Greece and the European Union.

Applied Research

E X A M P L E S   O F  P R O J E C T S / A C T I V I T I E S

Soil characteristics as indicators of wetland identification: The long term hydrology patterns of wetland sites were evaluated by establishing permanent monitoring stations in Epanomi wetland, measuring water table fluctuations, matrix suction, redox potential, and other redox indicators (Fe, Mn). The long term hydrology patterns of wetland sites were evaluated by establishing permanent monitoring stations in Epanomi wetland, measuring water table fluctuations, matrix suction, redox potential, and other redox indicators (Fe, Mn).

Heavy metal content in the soils of the Axios Delta: This work provides the baseline information for monitoring heavy metal pollution trends in the natural environment, and also suggests ways to prevent metal forms from becoming available to plants.

Agricultural practices and water quality: Field tests of the effects of fertiliser application, mulching, and ploughing on the quality of surface runoff water, aimed at formulating proposals for the sustainable management of the hydrological basin Lakes of Volvi and Koronia.

The use of natural systems in water pollution control: Survey of the efficiency of macrophytes and especially Typha species to treat wastewater. Evaluation of the potential of this approach in constructing artificial wetlands in Greece to treat sewage from small villages. Initiation of a large pilot project involving the establishment of experimental constructed wetlands and the monitoring of parameters indicating the potentialities of those wetlands to treat waste water.


E X A M P L E S   O F  P R O J E C T S / A C T I V I T I E S

Assessment of training needs: Inventory of training institutes and projects; assessment of training needs; investigation of potential collaborators for the performance of future training projects; preparation, execution, and evaluation of training programmes for people involved in wetland management.

Training projects: Two training courses on environmental impact assessment for the staff of pertinent civil services. A training project on the wise use of water resources at the area of lake Kerkini.

Public awareness and education

E X A M P L E S   O F  P R O J E C T S / A C T I V I T I E S

"AMPHIBION" newsletter : An eight-page illustrated bimonthly newsletter, first published in April 1993, with conservation news, information on key problems etc. Its mailing list reaches 7,000 entries (including civil services, experts, communities, NGOs, libraries, school teachers, the Press, members of the Greek and of the European Parliament, etc.). A summary in English is mailed abroad.

Environmental Education: Organisation of, or support for, more than 45 educational seminars on the importance of wetlands, on Environmental Education techniques, etc. Awards to Environmental Education school projects. Preparation of 5 Environmental Education packages.

Photographic exhibitions: Exhibitions on wetlands have been prepared and presented in Greece and abroad.

Production of communication material: EKBY has published more than 21 leaflets and 23 posters. It has also produced educational maps on Greek wetlands and the proposed Natura 2000 sites, and a 382-page illustrated book entitled "Greek Wetlands" in Greek and English.

Relations with the Press: A total of 151 interviews were given and 61 press releases were distributed during 1991-1996. As a result of EKBY's actions, 4 articles appeared in the press in 1991, 27 in 1992, 61 in 1993, 171 in 1994, 220 in 1995 and 379 in 1996.

Implementation of specific projects

E X A M P L E S   O F  P R O J E C T S / A C T I V I T I E S

Consultant to "Egnatia S.A.": The company which is responsible for the construction of the Egnatia highway has assigned to EKBY to carry out an ecological study of the Nestos area. The company which is responsible for the construction of the Egnatia highway has assigned to EKBY to carry out an ecological study of the Nestos area. 

Consultant to the Public Property Corporation: EKBY drew up the specifications and supervised the preparation of the management plan for the Pinios Delta in Thessaly. EKBY drew up the specifications and supervised the preparation of the management plan for the Pinios Delta in Thessaly.

Consultant to the "Development Agency of Thessaloniki S.A.": Drafting of specifications and supervision of a study on the development of ecotourism at the area of Langadas (wider area of Ramsar site "lakesVolvi - Koronia").



EKBY is governed by a Managing Board chaired by Mrs. Niki Goulandris.

It is staffed with experts on ecology, natural resources' management, hydrology, phytosociology (wetland, marine and terrestrial), GIS and mapping, environmental science, environmental education, and project management; their work is supported by experienced administrative personnel.

EKBY's own 1200 m2 building is on a plot of land provided by the Farm of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The building offers space for offices, library, lecture/exhibition hall, laboratory etc. Equipment includes a Novell network with 15 terminals and supporting instruments, a UNIX network, personal computers, digitiser, colour scanner and plotter, photocopiers, etc. It uses GIS software, (ArcInfo and ArcView) and specialised data storage and processing programmes. Field equipment includes two off road vehicles, GPS instruments, portable instruments for water quality measurements, etc.

The library contains books, magazines, maps, air photographs, press clippings, a fairly rich collection of mimeographed reports and studies, and communication material prepared by others (video tapes, natural sound cassettes, posters, leaflets). All information is available to Greek and foreign experts and students.





The idea to establish EKBY originated in 1989 in the context of a project on the "Conservation and Management of Greek Wetlands: Strategy and Action Plan" which was supported by WWF, the Laboratory of Ecology of the School of Agriculture (Aristotle University), and IUCN. Thirty Greek and expatriate experts representing various disciplines and bodies had participated in that project. Therefore EKBY is a product of wide collaboration. Since its establishment, it has developed a wide network of communication and collaboration both nationally and internationally and utilised and initiated opportunities of partnership in actions falling within its objectives. It supports other organisations undertaking projects in the same field, and helps to coordinate these projects whenever possible.

EKBY cooperates closely with:

Bodies with which EKBY has collaborated in the past or is still collaborating

Greek Ministry of Environment

Greek Ministry of Agriculture

Greek Ministry of Education

Regions of Anatoliki Makedonia - Thraki and Dytiki Makedonia

Local authorities


University of Athens

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

University of Patras

Democritus University of Thrace

University of the Aegean

National Agricultural Research Foundation

Institute of Marine Biology of Crete

National Centre for Marine Research, Greece


Greek NGOs


European Centre for Nature Conservation (ECNC)

European Environmental Agency (EEA)

Instituto Nacional para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (?CONA), Madrid, Spain

Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy

Ministere de l’ Environnement, France

Ministero dell’ Ambiente, Italia

Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris

Ramsar Convention Bureau

Instituto da Conservacao da Natureza - ICN Portugal

Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, Arles, France

United Nations Environment Programme - Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MEDA)

University College London, UK

University of Kentucky, USA

US Fish and Wildlife Service, USA

Center for Wetlands at the University of Florida, USA

Wetlands International (formerly IWRB)

World Conservation Union (IUCN)

Worldwide Fund for Nature (Greece, International, Italia, Mediterranean)


Global activities


- MedWet: Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Mediterranean Wetlands

- Teleconference with the Center for Wetlands at the University of Florida 





In Greece EKBY has pioneered the development of the following concepts/procedures for the conservation and management of renewable resources.




EKBY's future actions will be based on the principles it has adopted, the experience and continuous training of its personnel, and the development of new approaches aimed at sustainable development in Greece, the Mediterranean and South-Eastern Europe. These actions will:





EKBY operates, since June 2003, a Quality Management System (QMS) according to the International Standard ISO 9001:2000. The Greek Organisation for Standardisation has certified the QMS of EKBY (ΕΛΟΤ EN ISO 9001:2000, certificate number 02.35.05/851). Since June 2009 EKBY operates the new International Standard ISO 9001:2008 that has replaced ISO 9001:2000.

The certification covers the following fields:
“Promoting the sustainable development of renewable natural resources: Studies, integrated projects, advice and consultation, research, scientific information, awareness, education, capacity building, interpretation infrastructures, policies for sustainable development.”

The QMS aims to promote continual improvement of EKBY towards excellence and to ensure the satisfaction of society with its work. 

The Quality Policy of EKBY
Quality has been a primary dimension of EKBY’s strategy since its establishment. In pursuit of quality EKBY.

  1. Places an emphasis on the correct identification of the needs and expectations of interested parties and to their satisfaction.

  2. Motivates its people.

  3. Promotes good collaboration among its units.

  4. Builds mutually beneficial relations with its partners.

  5. Promotes scientific knowledge and pursues innovation.

  6. Makes effective and efficient use of the resources that society has entrusted to it.

  7. Applies quality management procedures, including the review of its scientific work by experienced experts in related fields.

  8. Seeks the improvement of its outcome through improvement of its processes.

In the above context, the top management of EKBY has decided the establishment of a Quality Management System according to the International Standard ISO 9001:2000. It commits itself to ensure the resources needed for the operation of the system and to work for its continual improvement. Its ultimate goal is the satisfaction of all interested parties: the users of EKBY’s services, its people, its collaborators, and society in general.


Ενημερωτικό φυλλάδιο ΕΚΒΥ


EKBY, 2010