ESIN

European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Research

Water saving on Ithaca

Ithaca-Sea-Chart

Ithaca is a small island in the Ionian Sea with a problematic water situation. In the main village Vathy (pop 1,920), water is no more distributed on Sundays and on weekdays only 07-13. The second largest village of the island, Stavros (pop 366), will only get water two days a week in July and August.

The island has an off-grid water network with a few off-off-grid enclaves. From May to October four desalination plants are at work but do not meet the island’s need for water, although there is a spring at Kalamos and most islanders have private rain water collectors and water tanks.

The mayor of Ithaca Dionios Stanitsas and the water manager Vassilis “Billy” Simiris have created several innovative solutions to overcome the scarcity of water. Not only do they use reversed osmosis but they also use “reversed economies of scale”, having a backwards billing system to promote saving water: if you use 0-40 m3 per 4 months, you pay 1€/m3; if you use 41-80 m3 per 4 months you pay 1,30€/m3; if you use 81-120 m3 per 4 months, the price is 1,50€/m3, if you use 121-160 m3 per 4 months, the price is 2€/m3, and finally, if you use more than 501+ m3 per 4 months you pay 3€/m3. The same goes for hotels but with slightly different numbers and prices. Simply put: if you use less water, you pay less per m3.

There is also a municipal policy for hotels that “go green”: if they meet a set of water-saving criteria as defined by a municipality board in 2009, they pay a flat rate of 1€/m3 for water. We visited Nostos Hotel, which uses slightly salt water from a well to flush the toilets in the hotel rooms, rainwater for the pool, and municipal water for the rest. The hotel guest knew nothing of this and were happy like fish in the sea.

The consumption of municipal water was 168,712 m3 in 2016, but the water production was 239,548 m3. The rest was lost in leaks, subsequently is a big issue. Biggest leaks (44%) were in Perachori village where they have been quite successful in finding leaks with an “Aquaphon” – a sound detector.

Odysseus-utsiktKalamos-vattenkranVy-från-Perachori

 

Bottoms Up

Much of what we know about the ocean floor’s topology we know from data collected by multibeam sonar systems. It is estimated that these sonar systems – which have to be lugged back and forth by ships across the surface of the sea in order to acquire soundings of the seafloor deep beneath them – have left a staggering 90% of the deep-sea bottom uncharted.

Seas, ecosystems and marine resources in general are subject to considerable pressures. Human activities and the effects of climate change, natural disasters, erosion and deposition in waters around islands and along mainland coasts can create serious effects on marine ecosystems leading to environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and eventually to social and economic stagnation.

lefteris

Now, ESIN’s Greek member organization HSIN led by its charismatic president Elefterios Kechagioglou has obtained Interreg financing for high resolution seafloor mapping and bottom characterization of East Mediterranean waters, called “GeoMarine”.

The consortium is a transnational, including 8 partners: Hellenic Small Islands Network, lead partner, University of Athens/Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, and University of Thessaloniki/Department of Geology (Greece), Institute for Oceanology in Varna and Bulgarian Cartographic Association (Bulgaria), ORION Joint Research and Development Centre (Cyprus), South East European Research Institute on Geo Sciences (Macedonia) and the Municipality of Saranda (Albania).

The objectives of “GeoMarine” project is to develop the infrastructure (eg, boat & equipment) and technology (eg, S/W and tools) offering:

  • High-resolution mapping of the sea bottom using Multibeam echosounder, and
  • Additional technologies & Surveying practices such as sediment sampling and its application in case studies covering pool areas, islands and their surrounding area

We wish the project the best of luck. Preserving and protecting the sea is always a top priority for us islanders. We are living in it.

cartemedorimage

Loubrieu B., C. Satra, R. Cagna & al. (N. Chamot-Rooke), 2001. Cartography by multibeam echo-sounder of the Mediterranean Ridge and surrounding areas, International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea (CIESM) & Ifremer, sheet 1 : Morpho-bathymetry, sheet 2 : Acoustic imagery, 1:1.500.000 scale.

An island seen from many angles

fiske-vinon

In Swedish, the word for island is ö – an o with two dots above, like a french tréma. It is a beautiful word, depicting a small, round island with two lighthouses.

Vinön meaning Wine Island is a small, almost round island in lake Hjämaren in Sweden with an area of 5 square kilometres. There are two buoys showing the way to the island from the mainland harbour: Kalvö and Ramberget (although the dots are under the o).

hjalmaren

Vinön has 100 full time residents, 400 part-time residents (90 days/year) and 100 weekend dwellers (50 days/year), making the human pressure 212 persons (not 100 as you might think if you just go for the census figures).

Vinön has recently been well described: first, in the “Smilegov” project 17/9/2015 (https://europeansmallislands.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/vinon.pdf), then in the “How to Read an Island” 10 p University course, when student RoseMarie Hellén made a portrait of the island where she lives.

And what a beautiful portrait it is! She observes the island from different perspectives. It is like a Picasso painting where the artist shows that we do not see objects like a camera – frozen images of life – but from many sides simultaneously, with the present being blurred and blended with memories of the past and the future. Like when a man looks at a woman he loves and what he sees is a mix of remembrances from their youth, of how she looked the same morning and of how she looked just a few seconds ago.

picasso

That goes for an island, too. We see it as it was, we see it as it is and we see it as we want it to be. Optimism and pessimism are mixed, facts and feelings are shuffled together, creativity and action mingle.

RoseMarie uses Edward de Bonos concept of six thinking hats to make this many-facetted portrait of her beloved island. Each hat gives a different perspective, a new opening on the same old questions we all share on our islands. It is a beautiful portrait which you can find here: https://europeansmallislands.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/threats-and-possibilities-of-a-small-island-society-in-the-middle-of-sweden.pdf

Island visitor’s centers

SkŠrgŒrdscenter Korpostršm / Saaristokeskus Korpostršm

Korpostrom is a strait in the southern Finland archipelago, located adjacent to several major shipping lanes. It has been a local service point for a hundred years, became a marina in the early 2000’s and in 2004 a visitor centre including a marine research station. There is a lecture hall, offices, a restaurant and a hotel, making it possible to organize seminars and conferences on various topics related to the islands of the archipelago

As part of her 10 p University Course “How to Read an Island”, Pia Prost has compared this visitor centre to others around Europe: Île de Batz, Ouessant, Sein, Groix, Belle-île, Houat, Hoëdic, Aix, île aux Moines and Yeu in France, Skye and Taigh Chearsabhagh in Scotland, Liminganlathti, Kalajoki, Kvarken, Blue Mussel and Ekenäs in Finland, Fagelbrolandet, Namdo, Runmaro, Koster, Anholt, Ven, Lysekil, Vatternbranterna and Varmdo in Sweden, Naoshima in Japan, the Channel Islands in UK, Vanouver island and Fogi islands in Canada, El Hierro and Lanzarote in the Canaries, Bere on Ireland, Kastellorizo in Greece and Newport in Oregon.

An impressive list of benchmarks. The work has carried Pia Prost around the world. She defines different kinds of visitor centres and uses Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats concept to compare them.

Anyone involved in strategic, long-term development an island visitor centre will be inspired by her work, her methodology and her love for the subject.

Benchmarking of Island Visitor’s Centres, Pia Prost 2016 https://europeansmallislands.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/island-visiting-centres.pdf

korpostrom-2

 

‘Bad geography’

Cagliari University students

Researchers Luca De Benedictis and Anna Maria Pinna from the University of Cagliari have launched the term ‘bad geography”. They have explored the geographical dimension of insularity, measuring its effect on trade costs. An interesting report with many different aspects on insularity http://www.siecon.org/online/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/De-Benedictis.pdf.

I quote: ”Insularity is not in general considered the worst condition in terms of ’bad geography’. According to both empirical and theoretical literature, the most immediate case of exterme geographical condition is the lack of direct access to the sea. This is considered to be a fundamental cause of heterogeneity among countries. One out of four countries in the world is landlocked; in Africa, it is one out of three. On the contrary, having direct access to the sea is the geographical condition that has been found to be the most advantageous for the economy of a country: coastal countries are wealthier and experience 30% more trade than landlocked countries But the direct access to the see can generate extreme geographical conditions. Islands are completely surrounded by sea. This full land discontinuity raises costs by eliminating alternatives in the connection system of an island and by raising the level of uncertainty for the remaining alternatives. The small and remote nature of island countries should be considered in view of these characteristics, revealing the crucial physical difference between islands and coastal countries. But also not all islands are made the same.”

Benedictis and Pinna conclude that to be an island is not bad per se in terms of trade costs. Bad geography can be reversed by connectedness and open institutions.

Easy said, hard to do. Let me quote Spilanis, Kizos and Petsioti “Accessibility of Peripheral Regions: Evidence from Aegean Islands”: On islands, where “everyday transportation is not available, many services are provided locally even if their quality or variety may not always satisfy local needs. Therefore, the increase of the availability of intermediate services locally in bigger mainland settlements is unsurprising, since the size of the population justifies the provision of private services (selling furniture, electric appliances, home products, physiotherapy services) and the existence of public services (tax office, town planning). Establishing and maintaining such services in areas where the level of population is lower than the threshold for its “spontaneous” emergence raises the cost for both private and public services. For public services, a revealing example is provided by ESPON (2011) for Notio Aigaio Region (40 inhabited islands). If all its population was living on one island, a maximum of three ports would be sufficient, while now there are 50, along with 14 airports instead of one, 21 power production plants instead of one, five hospitals instead of one, 90 primary schools instead of 211, 35 waste water treatment units instead of eight, and so on.“

If the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea (Notio Aigaio) could be grouped together, life would be so much simpler for everyone. Same thing were they municipalities in Germany. I believe they do suffer from ‘bad geography’.

Dodekaneserna

Some Aegean islands grouped together

Germany3

Some of the Aegean islands migrated to Germany (adapted from Jean-Didier Hache, CPMR)

Baby boom island

Georg Fredrik and Jim

Rathlin Island is the only inhabited island of Northern Ireland, of particular importance for its nesting seabirds, its heathland habitats and rare nudibranchs. Four areas are designated as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (Kinramer South, Ballygill North, Ballycarry and the Rathlin coast). In addition, the offshore reefs, vegetated cliffs, sea caves and shallow covered sandbanks have been designated as an EU Special Area of Conservation. As Irish voters supported REMAIN 56 percent to 44 percent last Friday, newspapers say there is a possibility that a UK exit from the EU could provide renewed momentum for Northern Ireland to try to leave the UK and unify with the rest of Ireland.

Rathlin adopted a development strategy in 2005 with its main focus on developing a sustainable tourism, very thorough with an audit of the islands’ carrying capacity for tourism, a market overview, a survey, benchmarks including Fair Isle, Gigha, Papa Westray and the Faroe Islands, a SWOT, a strategy, and an action plan. It seems to be working well since Rathlin has doubled its population in ten years, from 75 residents in 2001 to 130 in 2014. An RTE radio broadcast on July 25th 2014 reports a baby boom in 2014 with five babies being born that year!

Around 40,000 people visit the island every year, mainly during the nesting seabird season. Access to and from Rathlin is reached by regular ferries from Ballycastle, though visitors must travel as pedestrians unless they intend to make an extended stay. Businesses on the island are mainly in tourism. The ferry service is the island’s biggest employer.

Recently, my brother Fredrik and his friends Jim and Georg, visited the island for the sake of the nudibranchs (shell-less marine mollusk of the order Nudibranchia; a sea slug). Fredrik is  Swedish marine biologist, Jim is a Scottish architect and fan of nudibranchs as you can see here (http://www.nudibranch.org/Scottish%20Nudibranchs/, Greg is  a professional diver from Scotland. Their visit was organised by Bernard Picton, a legend among nudibranchers (http://www.seaslug.org.uk/nudibranchs/).

Photos (courtesy Fredrik Pleijel http://mugga.se/photographer/1/fredrik_pleijel/kgjouiajbzdc.html/page:1) shows the passenger and vechicle ferries, the shores with chalk and black basalt stones, brown algae, a curious seal and the nudibranchs: Jonolus cristatus, Aegires punctilucens & Flabellina lineata.

 

Island knowledge

A large part of the world’s island knowledge is assembled on Lesvos, right now. Here is some of it:Beate-Ratter

Professor Beate Ratter, Hamburg

Happy-professors

Happy professors: Godfrey Baldacchino and Ioannis Spilanis

Muna-Mohamed

Muna Mohamed, Maldives

Nenad-Starc

Professor emeritus Nenad Starc, Croatia