This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The historic Residence of Eleftherios Venizelos was built in 1930-1932 and is now part of the British Embassy in Athens, with a beautiful garden originally designed by English gardeners and carried out under the supervision of Mrs. Venizelos. Today, it is a green oasis in the city centre, with an abundance of orange, lemon, almond, apricot, bitter orange and other citrus trees, cypresses, bougainvillea, and is currently a haven for many birds.
British Ambassador John Kittmer said:
I am very pleased that the historic garden of the British Residence has seven new nests for the birds of Athens, as well as for migratory birds, seeking shelter for nesting during their passage through the city. In Britain there is a long tradition of protecting birds and I think their presence in the urban space is a quality of life index for humans. A big ‘thank you’ to the Greek Ornithological Society for the research and placement of the nests. I look forward to welcoming my first feathered guests, a few months from now.
Birds are dependent on natural cavities that grow on trees and shrubs for shelter. The number of suitable nesting places in trees across Athens has reduced since very few trees reach the necessary age. For example, it can take up to 120 years to develop the appropriate nest sites in a eucalyptus.
For this reason, the installation of artificial nests is necessary as they provide an important supplement to natural bird nests in urban areas. As we know, a large number of native birds live among us in the cities and seek their food and shelter in our gardens, but are not able to reproduce because of lack of nesting sites. Artificial nests can be used by many birds for laying such as songbirds, woodpeckers and owls.
Our cooperation with the British Embassy is a continuation of our strong link with the RSPB, the largest organization involved in nature protection in the United Kingdom, founded in 1889, with more than one million members. British citizens are well known for their environmental and social sensitivity and we are very happy that Ambassador Kittmer is following this tradition by offering a safe haven to the birds in Athens. Although our nests are designed for the requirements of particular species that only nest in the spring, they may also be used as shelter in the winter for a wide variety of birds who live in the city. We hope that the British Ambassador’s initiative will be replicated by others and willl help to further raise public awareness of the broader environmental challenges of our time.