Springing from the Penteli and Parnitha mountains, the river Kifisos is the longest river in Athens and cuts across the capital city and suburbs before meeting the Saronic Gulf. The river takes its name from the river God who presided over this largest of rivers which was the source of life for the vast, fertile athenian plain and is responsible for bringing wealth and prosperityto Attic and to Athens, only to have much of its beauty lost over time from repeated abuse from human factors such as waste dumping, construction works, fires etc.
Despite these issues, the resilience of the great river provides a home to vital flora and fauna, feeding the surrounding area with oxygen and regulating temperatures in the region. The part of the river stretching up to Metamorphosi enjoys ferns, eucalyptus, berry bushes, reeds and massive plane trees in addition to be home to from, turtles and even some fish.
In what is now deemed to have been a large error in judgment, a section of the Kifisos had been covered to facilitate the construction of roads and, partly, to eliminate the bad smell emanating as a result of waste pollution. This covering the river and regulation of the watercourse has created a number of environmental issues in the area over time which are now being addressed.
Photograph from mapio.net
Scent and the Kifisos River Basin
The Scent pilot in Greece relates to the urban environment around the Kifisos river in Attica. This covers app. 380km2, and almost 60% of its watershed is urbanised (metropolitan Athens area). Its hydrographic network has been drastically altered due to distinct land-use and 68% of the basin is occupied by urban expanses – host to 4 million citizens.
The city’s rapid development occurred without an appropriate plan for drainage works: Parts of the drainage network were shrunk and converted into streets whilst critical river cross sections were diminished. When floods occur they have a significant impact on infrastructure, especially at the downstream part, including Piraeus port, a major transportation hub that is served by railway network and major roads.
Partner HRTA, a non-profit voluntary organisation that is involved in urban search and rescue operations for Kifisos floods and partner Region of Attica, the regional policy maker for environmental and civil protection issues, will co-organise a large scale citizen campaign with field visits.
Citizens will take on-site images from the pilot site, enriching the existing dataset. A larger group of citizens will participate in the online gaming apps for annotating already available images of the pilot.
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The Danube Delta – Europe’s second-largest, but best preserved, delta – is an array of winding canals, marshes, rivers and lakes, replete with lush vegetation and spanning some 2,200 square miles. It is located near the mouth of the Black Sea, towards the end of the river Danube’s journey from its source in the Black Forest of Germany. The region is rich in vegetation and wildlife, especially birds. It has the highest concentration of bird colonies in Europe, making it an ideal destination for ornithologists.
The Delta is formed around three main channels of the River Danube and is home to the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve which, with more than 5,500 species of flora and fauna, has the third largest biodiversity in the world.
A vibrant and thriving ecosystem, the density of its bird population is augmented by some 3,450 animal species, from foxes and wolves to occasional deer, and 1,700 plant species for which the delta is also home. The natural habitat is littered with oaks, willows and thatch providing an ideal breeding ground for many avian species which travel from as far afield as China and Africa to raise their young within the delta. It is also a favoured spot for species migrating from the cold winters of the Arctic and Northern Europe.
Photograph from tripsite.com
Scent and the Danube Delta
This is the largest wetland in Europe and is protected under UNESCO as a unique biosphere reserve. The Danube Delta suffers from human interventions leading to dramatic changes. These interventions include damming large areas for agricultural use and intensive forestry. They result in disturbances of the water and ecological balance and even the loss of specific habitats.
A dynamic and detailed knowledge of land-cover and -use changes related to this rural environment is required and is not covered by current land-use maps e.g. by Copernicus Land Monitoring service. A large number of citizens will participate in the SCENT field tests in DD, activated by partner SOR, an NGO which is very active in the Danube Delta and has access to a large network of citizen groups through campaigns about Danube bird habitats and biodiversity.
Scent also has the active support of the Romanian governmental Danube Delta Biosphere Authority (DDBA) responsible for maintaining spatio-temporal flooding maps of the area. DDBA will attend workshops and evaluate the Scent toolbox from the policy maker viewpoint.
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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 688930.