Kalamos and Kastos islands sustainable development project

  • Country:
  • Start year:
  • Location:
    Western Greece, Ionian Islands
  • Area Type:
  • Type of protection:
    NATURA 2000 network on sea; legislation protecting forest and wildlife outside protected areas on land

The Kalamos and Kastos sustainable development project is a private conservation project run by the non-governmental organization Terra Sylvestris, based on Kalamos Island, Greece. Its goal is to promote & help achieve sustainable development through rewilding in the selected islands and adjacent marine protected areas.

Kalamos Island pine forest growing on mostly abandoned agricultural land. The whole island has private lands that are abandoned and are in the process of natural rewilding.


  • Habitat types: Marine, coastal and montane
  • Fauna (mega) species present: Mediterannean monk seal, various species of dolphin, whale and other cetaceans
  • Vegetation types present: In the sea: some of the most extensive Posidonia Seabeds in Greece. On the land: maquis, garrigue, dehesa, pine forest, unmanaged - heterogeneous dry grasslands and mediterannean pseudosavanah ecosystems


  • Description: The project has both a terrestrial and a marine component as far as restoring ecosystems are concerned. On land, the long term goal is to re-create the native ecosystem prior to the arrival of man in selected abandoned or marginal agricultural areas. A turning point for this component is the successful re-introduction of fallow deer in the future. Also a start is made with organic agriculture based on a local land exchange system. <br /> In the sea, essentially the trend due to conflicts and government policies leads to increased pressure on the marine environment. The project aims to halt this trend and restore the biodiversity and ecological relationships in the marine protected area, f.ex. with no-take zones, and a compensation system for damages caused by marine mammals to fishermen's nets, and the gradual phasing out of all aquaculture activities. The latter two are very important to decrease hunting pressure on marine mammals. An educational programme is aimed for as well, showing the positive aspects of having these mammals near fishing areas.
  • Aim: The project aims to collaborate with local people on the land to assist the trend of abandoned lands that are in the process of rewilding, and to promote sustainable development through rewilding in the islands as well as the adjacent area of the marine protected area.
  • Vision: To bring back natural ecosystems on land and in the sea by restoring marginal areas, protecting wildlife and providing alternatives to pressure on land and sea through carefully planned organic agriculture in the regions' existing agricultural lands.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: Legal characterization of the marine protected area as a marine national park where carefully planned subsistence and recreational fishing and low impact tourism can take place and complete phase out of all aquaculture activities within the marine protected area and in a peripheral zone surrounding it. Forest cover in Kalamos and adjacent islands increased by at least +50%. Fallow deer re-introduced as an alternative livestock species to goats.
  • Uniqueness: The island group is in the centre of the second largest marine protected area in the country and one of the largest in the Mediterranean. It is also protected by several international treaties such as ACCOBAMS. A complete set of marine megafauna is present here including dolphins, monk seals and whales, and it has important wild fish spawning sites. This marine serengeti of the Mediterranean is only a 4 hours drive from the Capital, and a beautiful green location where people can come and appreciate the ecosystems of the Mediterranean as they should be.
  • Results so far: Local communities engaged to a significant extent on the two islands and a significant network of supporters established throughout the region, Greece and other parts of the world (the region is a very popular tourist destination). The eco-community and biological field station and the first trial of organic agriculture adjacent to this has been established. As the project is still young, results are not yet complete to be presented at other levels.
  • Flagship species: Other
  • Other characteristics: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research


  • Inspirational value: This is essentially the only project at present in Greece focused around the concept of rewilding and apparently the only one in the sea as far as the Mediterranean is concerned. It is worth noting that it is in an area where the people on land have been allowing agricultural areas to rewild naturally and have even self organized groups in the past for re-introducing fallow deer.
  • Experience you would like to share: As with most parts of the world it is seen that local societies are usually at an relative equilibrium with their natural resources. Government policies and government level politics are at present acting negatively towards this trend that is present in this area due to the cultural, educational and socio-economic peculiarity of the area. Local people, guided properly can and are making a difference for preserving and restoring the biodiversity of the area.
  • Experience you would like to gain: Marine protected area restoration and management is a relatively new and rapid evolving field that the project is keen to learn and share information on, as well as concerning experiences and examples on land. Also at the policy and legal levels especially for marine conservation and spatial planning as it is rapidly expanding we aim to keep up with developments.


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