Balancing between nature, economy and society conflicting priorities: the Plastiras lake landscape

K. Hadjibiros, and A. Efstratiadis, Balancing between nature, economy and society conflicting priorities: the Plastiras lake landscape, International Conference in Landscape Ecology, Brno, 2013, Czech Association for Landscape Ecology (CZ-IALE), 2010.



Plastiras Lake, a mountain reservoir in Central Greece, was constructed in the late 1950’s for hydroelectric use; it has partially covered irrigation needs of the Thessaly plain too. Following changes in the social, economic and physical context, a significant tourist activity has been developed because the scenery of the lake is considered attractive by visitors. The landscape is dominated by the presence of water that attracts the observer as a magnetic focus point. This artificial lake is a typical surrounded landscape, with high mountains at a small distance from the water, as a result of the steep riparian contours; the ecological condition is good and the scenery is considered to be superior to the one of natural lakes. The site has also been designated as an ecological habitat conservation zone. However, irrigation of agricultural land, electricity production, drinking water supply, tourism, biodiversity and landscape quality are partially conflicting targets of water use. Because of irregular water release and climate variability, the surface level of the lake varies significantly in the range between the lowest and the overflow level, resulting in the development of a dead-zone around the lake shore. Local inhabitants and visitors believe that the scenery is less valuable when the water level is low. The lake’s water quality, tourism activity and related local income are favoured by conservative management and protection measures. On the other hand, more water for irrigation is a high social priority in the plain, despite the decreasing economic interest; it is also opposed to optimum power production. The supply of high quality drinking water to the towns of the plain has recently become a high priority for urban communities and strongly depends on the lake’s water quality; therefore a partial convergence between ecological, social and economic needs seems to emerge.