The Greek Natura 2000 network comprises of 419 sites with a total combined coverage of almost 4 300 000 ha, corresponding to around 27% of Greeces terrestrial area and 6% of its territorial waters. Within this network, the overall percentage of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) with no management plans is 98%, while the corresponding percentage for Special Protection Areas (SPAs) is 99%. In addition, only a limited number of Action Plans for habitats and species have been drafted at the national level, and only three have been formally approved (lesser kestrel, lesser white-fronted goose, and Egyptian vulture). There is a lack of management tools for the efficient conservation of nature, as well as the improvement of the conservation status and the assurance that habitats and species of Community interest will be properly protected, as required by the Birds and Habitats directives, but also by national environmental legislation.
The main objectives of the LIFE-IP 4 NATURA project are to: Implement concrete conservation measures and apply legal instruments for habitats and species of Community interest that are threatened at the national and multiregional scale; Formulate, legally approve and implement at least 10 Action Plans for selected habitats and species; Implement at least 12 Management Plans in the four participating administrative regions, covering Natura 2000 network sites in marine and terrestrial areas; Enhance the effectiveness of all local, regional and national nature conservation authorities, and develop the necessary means and conditions that will improve their work and results; Study and acquire the necessary knowledge on ecosystem services and their provisions at national, regional and local level; Strengthen the coherence between Natura 2000 network sites and improve their connectivity; Provide a geospatially-oriented database system for the Natura 2000 network and a web-based GIS tool for ecosystem services for governmental, professional and public use; Improve capacity, knowledge and awareness of key stakeholders (organisations, authorities and the general public) with respect to the implementation of the Birds the Habitats directives, and the Natura 2000 network, as well as their responsibilities and involvement in its conservation; and Actively disseminate the results of the project and ensure their implementation, transfer and replication by other stakeholders, nationally and at EU level.
The complementary actions are to develop (draft and legally adopt) a coherent national action-based plan for the conservation of the whole Greek Natura 2000 network for five years, and to draft the application for measures foreseen in the PAF for Natura 2000 under all seven priority categories.
In addition to the LIFE IP budget, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of some 358 million of complementary funding from EAFRD, ERDF, and national funds.
Expected results: Improvement of the favourable conservation status of the habitats and species of Community interest listed in the Birds and Habitats directives; Fine-scale mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services at national, regional and local level within the entire Greek Natura 2000 network; Strengthened coherence within the Natura 2000 network and enhanced connectivity with other external areas; Improvement of scientifically-sound and up-to-date management, licensing and authorisation by all local, regional and national competent authorities in Natura 2000 sites; Improved public awareness and knowledge of the Natura 2000 network, the habitats and species it supports, and the ecosystem services it provides; Mainstreaming of ecosystem service information into policy and governance, and ultimately, to contribute to ecosystem protection; Improvement of the capacity, knowledge, and competence of stakeholders, authorities and relevant bodies involved in Natura 2000 site management; and Achievement of a more effective, participatory, and jointly-supported conservation scheme for the Greek Natura 2000 network, on the marine and terrestrial levels.
The development, legal approval and implementation of habitat and species Action Plans, and Natura 2000 network site Management Plans, in combination with targeted communication, public awareness and training actions, are paramount steps towards improving the conservation status of the target habitats and species of the Birds and Habitats directives in Greece.