The essence of the IEF’s approach is to provide support and guidance for conservation projects that the local communities themselves have initiated and designed. We have seen in our first four years that tangible local action can unlock solutions to shared global challenges, and that this is best achieved by empowering communities to protect their own local environment through a ‘bottom-up’ approach

We work with local partners to develop and implement practical solutions to the region’s most pressing environmental issues. We believe that environmental sustainability need not come at the cost of economic development – rather, that the opposite is true.

By protecting and growing the natural capital of this special corner of Greece, we will help ensure health, abundance and resilience for its natural and human communities.

Get involved

Our people

A Steering Committee (SC), comprising of founding and actively involved donors, directs the strategy. They analyse and approve grants and use their personal networks to broaden the base of supporters. The SC members have a wide array of backgrounds and interests but all share a passion for the environmental protection of the Ionian islands.

Our local team consists of one person as the local Executive Director in charge of day-to-day management and coordination work on the ground, assisted by advisors and the SC.

And of course, we are eternally grateful to our supporters for their contribution to the IEF  by way of financial donation and/or time!


  • Dr Simon Karythis

    Executive Director

    Simon grew up in Corfu where, during these formative years on the island, he developed a fascination and love for the local environment. He moved to the UK for his further education where he completed his BSc in Zoology at Leeds University, before turning his focus towards the marine environment and completing an MSc in Marine Ecology at Bangor University. His understanding and appreciation for the natural world was further enhanced when he completed his PhD, with a focus on how species interact with each other and their environment.

    His postdoctoral research focused on the impacts of non-native species on invaded environments and the potential for human structures to facilitate their negative impacts. During this time, he developed a greater understanding for the importance that communities and other local stakeholders play in the protection of the natural environment.

    His academic and professional career has provided him with a broad understanding of the mechanisms that underpin many ecological processes and inform his determination to fuel the protection and conservation of the precious Ionian environment.

Our Ambassador

  • Lee Durrell


    Lee McGeorge Durrell was born in Memphis, studied philosophy at Bryn Mawr College and gained her PhD from Duke University for research on the calls of forest mammals and birds.

    Lee married Gerald Durrell, founder of the Jersey Zoo and what is now called Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, in 1979.  Lee and Gerald travelled, wrote books and presented several television series together. She became involved with the work of the Trust, particularly in Madagascar. ‘The State of the Ark’, Lee’s first book, was a comprehensive review of global species conservation, published in 1986.

    Gerald Durrell passed away in 1995. Lee has maintained a deep interest in the Trust’s work both in Jersey and overseas.  In 1999 she learned to fly light aeroplanes and assisted the Trust for a number of years by flying animals to and from Jersey for breeding programmes. In 2011 Lee was awarded the MBE in recognition of her services to biodiversity conservation.

    Today Lee lives in a refurbished old house in the countryside of Corfu and seeks to contribute to environmental conservation locally.


Advisory Council

How we work

The funds we raise are distributed to projects across the islands and the Ionian Sea.

Having identified the core issues and areas of concern that need to be addressed in the Ionian Islands and Sea, we have focused on some key themes.

The executive director is doing the work on the ground and is the person to contact if you want to find out more and to work with for an idea or to get guidance about developing a proposal.