The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN) is the oldest national environmental NGO in Greece, operating continuously since 1951 throughout the country for the protection of nature. From its very inception it has been at the forefront of efforts to establish national parks, to protect habitats and threatened species of fauna and flora, and to modernise and implement environmental legislation.
From 1958, the position of General Secretary was held by the late Byron Antipas, who was the driving force of the HSPN for 35 years. His pivotal role in the early environmental movement in Greece was illustrated by the fact that he was sent as the official representative of the national government in 1971 to sign the Ramsar Convention on behalf of Greece. Antipas’ seminal work in nature protection has been widely recognized by many international organizations. In gratitude for his great contribution, the HSPN has established the “Byron Antipas Prize”, which is awarded regularly to non-public organizations or individuals who have contributed significantly to the protection of nature and the environment, and have done so in an un-self-interested way over many years. Among the recipients are renowned environmentalist Luc Hoffmann (2005), the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (2011), and widely-known Swedish botanist Arne Strid (2017).
For many years the HSPN functioned as a kind of nursery, mainly through the encouragement Antipas gave to young Greeks to promote nature protection: from it developed other more specialised organizations such as the Hellenic Ornithological Society, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, and the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk seal (Mom).
The HSPN is a member of important environmental organizations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It also represents the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), a worldwide educational organisation, and it operates all five of FEE’s international programmes for environmental education and sustainable management. Since 2016, the HSPN is represent on the FEE Board of Directors through its current President, Nikos G. Petrou.
It works with many other NGOs for common goals, and cooperates with many national and regional state agencies. For its work it has received awards from the Academy of Athens, the Council of Europe and the Ford Foundation.
Today the HSPN is active in 4 main areas: Environmental Intervention; Conservation and Nature Protection; Environmental Education; Sustainable Management and Public Awareness Raising.