One of the special characteristics of Samos islands is that it holds numerous smaller and larger wetlands, fact which is rare for the Greek islands. The rich biodiversity of the wetlands of Samos makes them an ideal habitat for a large number of bird species, whether they are migratory, resident or wintering or breeding visitors. One of the biggest wetland areas on the island is the salt marsh of Psili Ammos (the Alyki Wetland) that, despite being dry during summer, harbours large numbers of birds during most of the year. Two other important wetlands in the eastern part of the Island are located close to the airport: a small pond located just opposite the seaside resort Doryssa, called Glyfada, and a larger area on the other side of the airport, the wet fields of Potokaki.

Potokaki is a large and important area that, once the rainy and migratory season begins, hosts many wetland species such as herons, ibises, ducks, stilts, raptors and numerous song birds. Among the latter, we can mention the high numbers of swallows, wagtails, crested larks and corn buntings during the dry season, who are then accompanied by many species of wheatears, shrikes, larks and warblers during migration season and winter.

It is a natural area of great interest thanks to its spaciousness, the existence of high reeds that allow birds to shelter, and a constant supply of food in its waters and surrounding areas.

However, the area of Potokaki is highly impacted by human activities, since it has become a rubbish dump for construction waste without any control from the responsible authorities. This impact began on 2010, and since then, there has been frequent paving of the waste and dumping new loads. There has also been an increasing amount of household garbage being added to waste piles as well. From an ecological point of view, this can alter the quality of the water that borders the waste, possibly altering the salinity and pH, as well as reduce bird habitats as the waste piles slowly but steadily take over the reeds.

Our main conservation target in Potokaki wetland is to highlight the importance of the area to the public and improve protection measures. To do this, we should first try to achieve a certain level of awareness, as it is an area with high bird biodiversity. It could also have a strong ecotouristic value, but the visual quality is clearly affected by the piles of garbage and construction waste. By collaborating with local authorities we want to increase the protection status and makes this an attractive area again, both for birds as for humans.

Irene Santander, Third year Environmental Sciences, University of Granada, Spain