The Conservation Collective Global Gathering 2023
This year the Conservation Collective’s Global Gathering took place in Corfu. 25 Executive Directors and Collaborators came together from around the world to take part in knowledge sharing workshops to identify and discuss our shared themes. We heard from key speakers including Rory Moore from Blue Marine Foundation, Simon Nash, formerly chief executive of Wetlands International and the Somerset Wildlife Trust and Brandon Moorhouse, an established environmental, planning and regulatory barrister to gain insights into their diverse experiences, challenges and successes within the realms of conservation.
An integral part of the gathering was conducting site visits to some of the Ionian Environment Foundation’s projects. The team had the opportunity to visit the SIN. PRAXI – Sinies Community Project where volunteers, out of their sheer love for the island, set up a recycling center to reduce and properly manage waste produced in the region. During our tour on the island, we visited the pristine northeastern coastline of Corfu where Erimitis is located – an area of outstanding beauty and high environmental importance. Erimiti Plous, an activist group consisting of local people, guided the CC group through their long legal battles to protect the area from destruction. The Corfu Butterfly Conservation talked to us about how during the 10 last years of their activities on the island, they identified 74 different species of butterflies and are now raising awareness on the importance of protecting the island’s biodiversity.
Complementary to the CC team’s vision and mission for protecting the environment, the global gathering took place in one of Corfu’s leaders in sustainable hospitality: Kontokali Resort & Spa. The hotel uses solar energy to heat 80% of its water, recycles its own organic waste, serves local and seasonal produce where possible, produces its own roses for decoration and supports local economy with 90% of its staff being permanent and consisting of locals.
On the final evening we hosted a prize giving event, presented by the IEF’s ambassador, Lee Durrell, to recognise and celebrate the work of the foundations from around the world. Lee poignantly illustrated the fragility of Corfu’s rapidly changing natural landscape with extracts from her late husband’s book My Family and Other Animals and his subsequent concerned observations years later:
“He often recalled that magical landfall as ‘like being allowed back into Paradise, being born for the first time’, and he christened Corfu ‘the Garden of the Gods’.
Gerry returned to the island in the 1960s and was distressed to see those bays and beaches being transformed by the early advances of what has since become mass tourism in ways that now threaten the very goose that laid the golden egg. The island is struggling with issues such as water shortages, waste management, land and sea pollution and loss of biodiversity.
There are not many pristine areas of Corfu left and even they will disappear unless a new approach to tourism is made and, more generally, a greater respect for the natural environment is embraced among residents and visitors alike.
You can’t turn back the clock, but you can keep it in working order. And this is where IEF and Conservation Collective excel. ..”
Lee went on to explain the importance of supporting actions that seek to protect, conserve and cherish the natural world, and the Corfu that Gerald Durrell was so awed by:
“The support for local environmental initiatives throughout the Ionian Islands and elsewhere in the world has been and will be transformational. Such support is like attending to the numerous and diverse parts of that clock mechanism so that they all work together. It’s these home-grown, grassroots environmental actions that will eventually coalesce and offer hope for saving the planet.”
At the end of this action packed week, the Conservation Collective’s team of directors felt inspired and energised to charge forward with our work and shared objective: to turbo charge nature positive actions in the places we love and live…
Thank you @babbisboulgaris for your generosity and the @conservationcollective for choosing Kerkyra and the IEF for such an important and memorable event celebrating conservation and hope for a more nature-centric future.