Operations at Archipelagos new research base, the Centre of Environmental & Agricultural Research of the Aegean Sea, in the village of Rahes in Ikaria began in May 2005.
Research and conservation work at Archipelagos has expanded to cover several fields. This gave rise to the need for two separate departments within the organization to handle separate, specific fields of work. As a result, the Institute of Marine Research of the Aegean Sea on the island of Arki, together with the Centre of Environmental & Agricultural Research, based in Rahes, Ikaria were established.
An asset to Archipelagos the new research base in Rahes, Ikaria, was set-up in March 2005. With a team of 11 researchers it began operations in May 2005. Over the following months, the new base will be developed and equipped with requisite facilities in order to facilitate the working of a 25 member team of researchers.
The new research base was created using funds and contribution from the work carried out by the researchers and members at Archipelagos. The support of the Municipality of Marousi (in Athens) was also indispensable. They donated the heavy duty houses that house the base. These buildings are ideal for work in any weather condition – hot or cold and are suitable to be used as offices or laboratories.
For transporting these houses from Athens to Rahes, Ikaria Archipelagos had to rely on a cargo boat, trucks, cranes and a crane lorry. Tremendous work was involved in this transportation as they were required to scale the difficult mountainous route through the mountains of Ikaria as the roads of the villages were far too narrow to allow such vehicles.
The Centre of Agricultural and Environmental Research is housed in the new research base of Archipelagos in Rahes, Ikaria. The Centre works in collaboration with the Seed Bank of the National Agricultural Research Foundation, the Department of Pharmacology of Athens University, the Department of Biological Science of Essex University, as well as with several independent scientists, who offer voluntary work, supporting the aims of the Centre.
The Centre of Agricultural and Environmental Research was created with the aim to coordinate and carry out research in the following fields:
• Creation of the Aegean Seed Bank, with an objective to collect, conserve, propagate and spread the use of the local and endemic varieties of seeds from the Aegean islands. The Seed Bank is vital for the conservation and spreading of the island's plant genetic material.
• Using herbs of the islands for producing herbal oils for pharmaceutical and general use.
• Encouraging the use of sustainable agriculture practices and reducing the use of chemical additives and pesticides by providing guidance and soil analyses to the local farmers.
• Chemical and microbiological analyses of drinking and swimming waters.
• Encouraging and organizing local communities to shift to organic agriculture, in cooperation with the organic certification company Bioellas
Correspondingly, the research team at Archipelagos moves into its fifth year of carrying out research to assess the biodiversity of fauna and flora of the terrestrial ecosystems of the Aegean Sea islands.