Expression of opinion on Greek Ramsar wetlands and possible removal from the Montreux Record, 1999

16/11/2001

Editor’s note: From the establishment of the Montreux Record (the "record of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur") by Recommendation 4.8 of COP4 in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1990, all ten of Greece’s Wetlands of International Importance have been present on the list. The following report was prepared in 1998-99 and submitted by the Government in March 1999 as part of the process of deciding upon the appropriateness of removing some of those sites from the Record, in a procedure outlined by the Guidelines for operation of the Montreux Record adopted by Resolution VI.1 (1996). The matter was discussed further during COP7 in May, at which time alternative interpretations were offered on several issues, particularly by WWF-Greece. In the end  three sites – Artificial Lake Kerkini (10,996 ha), Evros delta (9,267 ha), and Lake Mikri Prespa (5,078 ha) – were removed from the Record on 18 May 1999.

The report on the advisability of removing certain Greek Ramsar sites from the Montreux Record is included here as an example of  the Guidelines for the operation of the Montreux Record in practice.

Expression of opinion with regard to conservation actions for Greek Ramsar wetlands and to the applicability for removal from the Montreux Record

 5 March 1999

P. A. Gerakis
School of Agriculture
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Maria Anagnostopoulou
Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre

K. Georghiou
School of Biology
University of Athens

M. J. Scoullos
School of Chemistry
University of Athens

CONTENTS

Preamble

1. Introduction

1.1. Reprimands and recommendations by the Ramsar Convention
1.1.1. Reprimands and recommendations of the 4th, 5th, 6th COP
1.1.2. Conclusions and proposals by the Ramsar Bureau
1.2. Prerequisites for removal
1.3. Purpose of the report

2. Progress in the conservation of the Greek Ramsar wetlands

2.1. National Policy and Strategy
2.1.1. National Policy for wetlands
2.1.2. National Strategy for Wetland Resources for the period 2000-2005
2.2. Delineation, legislative institution
2.3. Wise use
2.3.1. Management plans
2.3.2. Management bodies
2.3.3. Infrastructure for information, wardening etc.
2.3.4. Programme Agreements

3. Developments with regard to the Acheloos issue

4. Thoughts of the Committee on the issue of removal

5. Synopsis of the Committee's opinion

ANNEXES
ANNEX I Conclusions and recommendations of Ramsar technical reports
ANNEX II Conservation and management measures for the Ramsar wetlands
ANNEX III Programme Agreements for the Ramsar wetlands
ANNEX IV Completed Montreux Questionnaires for the Wetlands
ANNEX IV-1 Lake Mikri Prespa
ANNEX IV-2 Artificial Lake Kerkini
ANNEX IV-3 Evros Delta
ANNEX IV-4 Lake Volvi
ANNEX V Axios - Loudias - Aliakmon Delta & Aliki Kitrous


 PREAMBLE

The present report was prepared in response to the 54825/2715/9.7.98 letter of the Ministry of Environment. It expresses the personal opinions of the Committee members who prepared it. These opinions were based on information that the Committee was able to gather until November 1998.

The Committee, acknowledging that several issues and questions of the report may be subjected to numerous and diverse evaluations, express the wish that these evaluations are communicated to them.

The Committee warmly thank all the staff of the Ministry of Environment for supplying information as well as all the agencies, NGOs and colleagues who contributed additional information orally or in writing.


1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Reprimands and recommendations by the Ramsar Convention to the Greek State concerning Greek wetlands of international importance

1.1.1. Reprimands and recommendations by the 4th, 5th and 6th Conference of the Contracting Parties of the Convention

During the last 3 Conferences of the Contracting Parties of the Ramsar Convention (Montreux 1990, Kushiro 1993, Brisbane 1996), certain reprimands and the relevant recommendations were addressed to Greece, as follows:

  1. The boundaries of most Greek Ramsar wetlands have not been precisely described, nor delineated in maps, as required by article 2 of the Convention (COP 1990, REC 4.9.5)
  2. All Greek wetlands were marked at the Regina Conference (doc. C.3.6), as having suffered or potentially threatened by alteration of their ecological character (COP 1990, REC 4.9.5)
  3. In spite of the measures already taken or to be taken soon by the Greek State for the protection of the Ramsar wetlands, the threatening agents are evident (COP 1990, REC 4.9.5)
  4. The Greek Ramsar wetlands, except Amvrakikos and Prespa, have not been definitely delineated, and this should be done soon by the Greek State (COP 1990, REC 4.9.5, COP 1993, REC 5.5.1) and also
  5. The final maps of Amvrakikos and Prespa have not been submitted to the Ramsar Bureau (COP 1993, REC 5.5.1)
  6. No final maps have been submitted to the Ramsar Bureau for three out of the 11 Ramsar wetlands, and this should be done by April 1997 (COP 1996, REC 6.17.1)
  7. The Ramsar Bureau is concerned about damages at Messolonghi and also about threats from plans of diversion of the rivers Acheloos and Evinos, and urges the Greek State to proceed to all necessary actions in order to prevent the adverse impacts from the implementation of these plans (COP 1993, REC 5.5.1)
  8. The Greek State should elaborate management plans for the Ramsar wetlands in its territory according to RES. 5.7 of COP 1993 (COP 1993, REC 5.5.1)
  9. The Greek State ought to ensure their wise use, (COP 1993, REC 5.5.1, COP 1996, REC 6.17.1), e.g. by reinforcing the implementation of existing regulations and/or by implementing the Wise Use Guidelines of the Ramsar Convention, with the technical aid of the Ramsar Bureau (COP 1996, REC 6.17.1)
  10. The Ramsar Convention hopes that, when Turkey becomes a party, article 5 of the Convention will be implemented in the Evros Delta (bilateral consultations for the fulfilment of obligations derived from the Convention, co-ordination and support of policies and rules/regulations concerning the maintenance of transboundary wetlands, as well as their flora and fauna) (COP 1993, REC 5.5.1)
  11. In spite of the progress made by the signature of 3 JMDs for equal number of Greek Ramsar wetlands, they all still lack i). a permanent legal validation via PDs and ii). management plans, issues which should be urgently settled by the Greek State (COP 1996, REC 6.17.1)
  12. Following the decision of the Greek government to proceed to the implementation of the plan for the diversion of river Acheloos (with a discharge of 600 millions cubic metres per year instead of 1.1 billion cubic metres per year as in the original plan), the continuing discussion of the issue in academic circles and in the circles of environmental NGOs, as well as the preoccupation that the said works are already under way, the Convention asks the Greek government to reconsider the entire plan and proceed to the elaboration of a study on the hydrology and management of water resources of the Thessaly Plain and the area of Etoloakarnania (COP 1996, REC 6.17.1)

Abbreviations:

COP = Conference of Contracting Parties
REC = Recommendation by the Convention
RES = Resolution of the Convention
PD = Presidential Decree
JMD = Joint Ministerial Decision

1.1.2 Conclusions and recommendations from the technical reports of the Ramsar Bureau

The said technical reports deal with legislative, institutional and, at a lesser degree, technical issues immediately concerned with the preservation and wise use of the Greek Ramsar wetlands, and proceed to relevant recommendations, more detailed than those expressed during the Conferences. These reports were composed by the expert appointed by the Ramsar Bureau Dr. Cyrille De Clemm, following his visits to Greece in November 1988 and May 1989. In Annex I the conclusions and recommendations of those reports which concern the Ramsar wetlands in general (and not each wetland individually) are presented.

1.2 Prerequisites for formulating a request for removal from the Montreux Record

From the above it is inferred that the issues whose progress the Greek State must document to the Ramsar Bureau, in order to proceed to the formulation of a request to remove a number of Greek wetlands of international importance from the Montreux Record, are mainly the following:

  1. The precise delineation of all Greek Ramsar wetlands and the submission of the relevant maps to the Ramsar Bureau.
  2. The permanent establishment of the said wetlands via legislative acts
  3. The development of the issue of the river Acheloos diversion and the impacts of this work on the wetlands of Messolonghi
  4. The elaboration of management plans for Greek Ramsar wetlands
  5. The ensuring of the maintenance of the ecological character and the wise use of Greek Ramsar wetlands, with all existing resources and manners (enforcing the implementation of existing rules and regulations, technical support by the Ramsar Bureau, implementation of the Wise Use Guidelines of the Ramsar Convention)

1.3 Purpose of the report

This report aims at submitting to the competent for Ramsar issues service of the State, an opinion on the degree to which the prerequisites for the formulation of a request for the removal of Greek wetlands from the Montreux Record are today fulfilled.


2. PROGRESS CONCERNING THE CONSERVATION OF GREEK WETLANDS OF INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE

The progress achieved during the past few years and the ever increasing interest of the Greek State in the protection of wetlands, particularly those of international importance, is reflected mainly in three texts, which have been forwarded by the Natural Environment Management Section of the Ministry of the Environment (IPEHODE) to the Ramsar Bureau from 1996 to 1998. These texts have been used as the basis for the composition of the general part of this report:

  1. Reference text 1: Ramsar Convention. 1998. Greek Report (36 pp.). Forwarded to the Ramsar Bureau (translated in English) with ref. num. 56901/3931/28-9-1998
  2. Reference text 2: Additional Information to Greek National Report of 1996 on measures taken by Greece for the protection of wetlands in Montreux Record (6 pp.). Forwarded to the Ramsar Bureau with ref. num. 51057/598/19-2-98
  3. Reference text 2: Ramsar Convention. 1996. National Report: Greece (17 pp.). Forwarded to the Ramsar Bureau with ref. num. 13264/900/5-3-96

Moreover, an advanced draft of the National Strategy for Wetland Resources (see 2.1.2), which is now nearing the final stage, includes quite detailed information on the positive actions promoting the conservation of Greek Ramsar Wetlands.

2.1 Forming a national policy and strategy for wetlands

2.1.1. National Policy for Wetlands

The main characteristics of the national policy for wetlands concerning the time-span 1995-2000, which forms a part of Greek Environmental Policy, are described in reference text 1, par. 2.1. Most of the actions form a part of the Operational Programme "Environment" of IPEHODE and are included in the sub-programme "Natural Environment". National policy on wetlands focuses on:

  1. Their assessment at a national level with European criteria (and inclusion of the most valuable ones in the Natura 2000 Network)
  2. Precise delineation, description and safeguarding of the protected item by determining the prohibited and permitted uses, for each of the most important wetlands, and validation of all the above by legislative acts (JMDs, directed to the respective PDs)
  3. Management planning for wetlands (elaboration of relevant studies, Specific Environmental Studies)
  4. Implicating the local communities in wetland conservation, through financial support of wetland-neighbouring communities for application of sustainable practices in the primary production, as well as for information, awareness, environmental education and training activities.
  5. Prevention of degradation of wetland resources in general, through the institution of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and of water quality in particular through monitoring in large rivers and coastal areas.
  6. Promotion of relevant scientific research and observation
  7. Re-creation, restoration and rehabilitation of wetlands
  8. Promotion of international co-operation on sustainable management of wetlands in the Mediterranean, and finally
  9. Incorporation of the concept of multiple wetland values in sectorial policies for fisheries and tourism

The national wetland policy includes actions and measures resting mainly in the competencies of the Ministries of Environment (IPEHODE), of Agriculture, and of Development. Apparently, in the implementation of the above policy, wetlands of international importance are a priority. Particularly concerning the Ministry of Agriculture, its policy is to encourage environmentally friendly crop and animal farming in significant wetland sites, in the context of obligations and opportunities provided by Regulation 2078/92 of the Council of the European Community. At this moment the Physical Planning and Environmental Protection Division is promoting two agri-environmental projects: 1. The "project for the protection of especially important habitats (Natura 2000 Network)", applied in riparian zones of sites of the Natura 2000 Network in Northern Greece, among others the lakeside areas of lakes Prespa, Koronia and Volvi, Kerkini, Ismaris and Vistonis and 2. The work of a comparative applied research entitled "Observation and development of organic farming", which will determine certain parameters (socio-economic, agricultural and environmental) in organic and conventional farming systems, aiming at the acquisition of the necessary knowledge for the promotion and exercise of organic farming.

On the part of IPEHODE, an action indicative of its concern for the natural areas is the promotion, as part of the Operational Programme "Environment" (2nd Community Support Framework - CSF), of a project entitled "Mapping and description of habitat types in sites of Community and National Importance for the conservation of nature", whose implementation, following an extensive preparation, is expected to start in the first months of 1999. This work concerns all sites of the Natura 2000 Network which constitute the Scientific Catalogue (246). The work is expected to contribute to the sustainable management of the Ramsar and other important Greek wetlands in the near future, as it will fill knowledge gaps.

The Environmental Protection Division recently formed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expected to enhance international co-operation on the conservation of transboundary wetland resources of the country. This new service will be dedicated entirely to natural resources protection issues, promoting actions that contribute to tackling transboundary environmental problems. The Division has already opened a channel of communication with national NGOs, inviting them to participate in an informal consultation forum.

2.1.2 National Strategy for Wetland Resources for the period 2000-2005

The said strategy is at an advanced preparation stage and is to be completed in the first semester of 1999. The national strategy on wetlands is being prepared following an initiative and under responsibility of the Environmental Planning Division of IPEHODE. This action, on the one hand will fulfil the relevant commitment of our country as a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention, and on the other, will express the strategic choice of the State on wetland resources, as it is formed in view of the existing strategic options at a national, European and international level. Its general objective is "the conservation and rehabilitation of all functions and values of wetland resources of Greece as a contribution to the sustainable development of the country", while the specific objectives and the respective actions prescribed for their fulfilment, correspond to a great extent to the specific objectives and actions of the Ramsar Strategic Plan.

Further specification of the National Strategy in an action plan for the most important wetlands of Greece, will be completed within the same time period, in co-ordination with the Master Plan for Nature, elaborated by IPEHODE (to be completed within the first semester of 1999) and in combination with the financial framework of the 2nd CSF. In the Action Plan priority is given to the Ramsar wetlands, and next to them, to the rest of the wetlands in Natura 2000 Network (a total of 100 wetlands). An aid to the specification and prioritisation of conservation actions in wetlands, is the existence, since 1994, of the "Inventory of Greek Wetlands as Natural Resources", as well as the Property Registration (first stage of the work for the production of a National Cadastre), which, by a national decision, began with the Ramsar wetlands.

2.2 Delineation, map submission and legal validation

Final maps for all Greek wetlands of international importance have been sent to the Ramsar Bureau.

Joint Ministerial Decisions (JMD) have been signed for all wetlands except Lakes Volvi and Koronia and Lake Mikri Prespa, from 1990 to the end of 1998. Lake Mikri Prespa, as well as the Evros Delta, is protected by a PD before that time. The JMDs delineate precisely the item of protection in each site, define the zoning corresponding to various degrees of protection, and describe the permitted or prohibited activities, as well as the conditions for exercising the permitted activities in each zone. The exact data of the JMDs are given in Annex II. The JMDs have a three-year duration. It has not been possible to issue PDs. We note that, nevertheless, the boundaries, zones and protection measures defined in them, appear to be valid even after the expiry of the three year period up to the issuing of a PD with a permanent duration (as an example we quite the relevant Decision of the Council of the State ref.no. 2343 of 1987, rejecting the appeal of a citizen who, invoking the lack of a legally valid delineation, asked for a permission to install a ship dismantling unit in a location which, according to the then recent delineation study of IPEHODE (1986), fell within the protection core area of the Nestos Delta wetland). In the past few years, the local authorities and communities have begun to realise this fact, as the concern of the State for these sites is consistent.

Within the scope of the "Programme for handling specific environmental problems and system for the operation and management of protected areas" elaborated within the 2nd CSF from 1996 to this day, Specific Environmental Studies (SES) have been elaborated for the Ramsar sites, leading to draft PDs. At this moment draft PDs are ready for certain sites, while for the rest of the sites the draft PDs are about to be delivered. These drafts are going to be forwarded to the local communities with corresponding information campaigns, in order to facilitate social consent. This procedure will definitely require time.

The "Programme for handling specific environmental problems and system for the operation and management of protected areas" in its various stages has been described to the Ramsar Bureau in reference text 2.

2.3. Wise use

2.3.1. Management plans

The JMDs for the Ramsar sites, as mentioned above at 2.2, define rough management guidelines, via the zoning of the subject of protection, the definition of prohibited or permitted activities and the definition of conditions (i.e. stricter EISs) for exercising these activities. The SESs, whose structure greatly coincides with that of a management plan, also proceed to the formulation of management guidelines for each site, namely describing and documenting the necessity for certain projects, regulations and generally all kinds of interventions (e.g. technical, administrative, financial, institutional etc.). Specific operation and management regulations for protected areas (management guidelines) will be included in the forwarded PDs. In other words, the PDs will prescribe a management programme. For management issues of greater maturity, this programme may be specific, while for issues which require further specification, the studies and other steps required for full specification of the relevant management measures will be prescribed. The elaboration of detailed management plans will be co-ordinated by IPEHODE.

Some of the projects that have emerged within the scope of the "Programme for handling specific environmental problems and system for the operation and management of protected areas", considered by the local authorities and by the central competent authority of IPEHODE to have priority, have already begun to be implemented, under Programme Agreements (PA), which have been signed for all Ramsar sites (see 2.3.4).

It should be noted that since 1986, when the first delineation studies of the Ramsar wetlands were drafted, up to now, other management studies for the sites have also been elaborated, and although they were not formally adopted, they have been and still are useful, to a various degree, as reference material for the recent studies.

2.3.2. Management bodies

Legislatively established permanent management bodies have not yet been created for any of the sites. The SESs elaborated within the scope of the 2nd CSF include, among other things, suggestions of the researchers for the creation of management bodies (MB) of the sites in question. IPEHODE has clarified the basic prerequisites for the formation and function of the MBs, as well as the specifications these must fulfil with regard to their objective, their main and supportive functions, their organisation and administration, based on the obligations and opportunities provided by the existing institutional framework. At a next stage, it will assess the relevant proposals, and proceed to the creation of the MBs, which will again be validated through PDs. Moreover, the idea of constituting an interministerial council charged with the co-ordination and supervision of the operation of the entire MB system is considered.

Given the existence of an infrastructure (Information Centres, guardhouses, observation towers, vehicles, environmental interpretation equipment etc.), and until the creation of the Management Bodies, Preliminary Management Schemes (PMS) in the form of Joint Committees have already been established at the Ramsar sites, via the Programme Agreements signed by the Ministers of the Environment and of Agriculture, the Regional and the Local Services. These Joint Committees receive administrative and secretarial support by the relevant Local Development Institutions. NGOs are invited to participate in these schemes, depending on their specialisation. These schemes, which prepare the ground for the oncoming institution of the permanent MBs, aim at i). directly responding to the arising management problems of the sites and ii). executing projects related to the infrastructure, monitoring and management. Moreover, they informally act as co-ordinators of the individual activities which are subject to sectorial management by the relevant services. The PMSs have been staffed with specialised scientific personnel. The operation cost of the first stage is covered by the 2nd CSF of the European Community. Since the beginning of the PAs (see Annex III), the PMSs meet at least once every three months, so as to monitor the PAs’ projects, discuss the proposals of the Consulting Committee, or other urgent matters associated to the management of the relevant wetlands. The Consulting Committee consists of representatives of users’ groups and meets twice or thrice a year.

The problem of guarding the sites is very serious and its gravity varies greatly among various Ramsar sites and among various locations within a single site. The respective personnel of the Forestry Service, already very thinly spread, are not being replaced after retirement. The practice of non- replacement or partial replacement has been going on for years in almost all public services. In any case, the sites are large (from 5200 ha to 34000 ha) and their absolutely effective guarding would require a very large investment in human and material resources. It is pointed out, however, that in all sites the PMSs have already, since 1997, hired "wardens-ecoguides", who may not have the authority to arrest violators, but it seems that their presence in the area may act against illegal acts through both prevention (by persuasion) and suppression (by pressing charges at the state authorities). This fact is enhanced by the awareness of the local population, which has been increasing during the past few years in many sites (not in all).

2.3.3. Information, observation and guarding infrastructure in Ramsar wetlands

Since 1992 and by the use of several funding sources, Information Centres have been constructed and equipped (office and environmental interpretation equipment) in all sites, coupled with guardhouses and observation towers. For each site, the completion of this infrastructure and mainly of its equipment, in order for it to become fully operational as a focus of information, touring, ecotourism and other activities, has been included in the relevant PAs, through which the problems of construction defects, damages etc. are also being tackled.

2.3.4. Conservation actions through implementation of Programme Agreements

These Agreements have an annex with scheduled projects and activities, a time plan and a budget, for each of the Ramsar sites. The signature date and the budget per site are cited at Annex III. The projects included in the PAs are financed mainly by the 2nd CSF, and secondarily by other funding sources. The time span for their implementation is the four-year period 1996 -1999, but most of them were signed on 6-5-97. At this moment, the individual projects are at various stages of implementation.

The objectives of the PA for each site are:

a) To promote the procedures for the setting up of the Union for the Protection and Promotion. For each site, the 1st stage (4 months), foresees the establishment of the Union for the Protection and Promotion by the respective competent Local Authority Organisations, which, from that moment on, takes over from them entirely and replaces them in the interests and obligations arising from the PA. The Union for the Protection and Promotion is obliged to facilitate all contracting parties in the implementation of their commitments, to proceed to all necessary actions for the provision of supplementary equipment for the operation of the infrastructure, to receive the existing infrastructure and equipment and use it for the implementation of the PA’s objectives or to concede the equipment to another contracting party for its use, and finally, to deliver to IPEHODE the infrastructure and the equipment in a good and serviceable condition to the future MB.

b) To organise a one-day conference for the support of the Union as well as to publish the necessary support material.

c) To operate the Information Centre as a reference and information point for the functions - values of the site, as a promotion mechanism for information and sensitisation and as a mechanism for implementation of touring and ecotouristic programmes and other specific activities. A number of actions, studies and projects are provided for this function: i. procedures for the support, co-ordination, continuous information and pinpointing of problems to the competent authorities, ii. planning and implementation of projects for information and awareness of the competent bodies and the public, iii. planning and implementation of projects for the attraction, reception, information and guiding of visitors and specific groups in the Information Centre and in the protected area, iv. organisation and operation of archive and library, v. organisation of 1-day conferences, vi. publication of information material, production of video tapes and other audio-visual systems for the illustration of the site, and publication of a quarterly information bulletin, vii. elaboration of specific projects (study for promotion projects, training of wardens - guides and personnel of the Information Centre, monitoring of environment quality).

d) To plan a project for the guarding of the site by the competent forestry authority (and by the Prefecture of Thessaloniki for lakes Koronia and Volvi).

It is apparent (see par. c above) that particular importance has been placed in information and awareness actions in general. This is not incidental; rather it is based on the belief that true protection can be accomplished only under the condition that local communities know and appreciate the special values of their area and embrace the need for their conservation. Also according to the opinion of the scientists working at the Information Centres, the part these have begun to play as cores of information and co-ordination of individual actions, appears to be significant. Moreover, there has been a definite increase of environmental education activities developing in these wetlands. For other education and information - awareness actions, see reference text 1, Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Purpose 3: To raise awareness of wetland values and functions throughout the world and at all levels.

The PAs directly implicate the Local Authorities, and consequently the local communities they represent, in management and protection affairs of the respective wetlands.


3. DEVELOPMENTS ON THE RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING THE ISSUE OF THE RIVER ACHELOOS DIVERSION (see 1.1.1, points 7 and 12)

Following the political decision of the Greek State to proceed with the implementation of the project of partial diversion of Acheloos with a discharge of 600 millions cub.m./year instead of 1.1 billion cub.m./year of the original project, a joint decision was issued, with ref.no. 23271/15-12-95, with the title: "Adoption of environmental terms for the construction and operation of works for the partial diversion of the upper part of the river Acheloos towards Thessaly". The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which led to the issuing of this decision is based on the aforementioned political decision. Nevertheless, five NGOs (see below) claim that no technical review of the works was done, and the works continue on the basis of the original technical studies, which referred to the originally planned discharge. On 15-2-96, these five NGOs, namely the Hellenic Ornithological Society, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, and New Ecology, submitted to the Council of the State a petition for the annulment of the decision for issuing environmental terms. The case will be tried on 19-3-99. The arguments against the decision are associated to the adequacy of the EIS, the omission of the consideration of alternatives, the violation of prevention and sustainable development principles, the quality of the EIS’s contents and the procedures for the public access to the EIS.


4. THOUGHTS OF THE COMMITTEE ON WHETHER OR NOT TO REMOVE GREEK WETLANDS OF INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE FROM THE MONTREUX RECORD

4.1 It should be noted in the first place that in this report, the members of the Committee express their personal opinions, which are not necessarily in agreement with the opinions of the bodies they work for or participate in or co-operate with. These opinions are based on their personal experience (whenever and wherever it exists) and on the assessment of the existing information they have been able to assemble. The existence of other data, which could affect value judgement, cannot be excluded.

4.2 We interpret the inclusion of a wetland of international importance in the Montreux Record as a motive for the competent authorities to correct the deficiencies with regard to their obligations under the Ramsar Convention. In the case of Greek wetlands, the main deficiencies, according to the resolutions and recommendations of the relevant Convention organs (see Introduction) are mainly concerned with the institutional status of the wetlands (delineation, issuing of specific regulatory acts for the regulation of uses, establishment and legal validation of management bodies etc.). There are also motivations concerning technical deficiencies, e.g. for the sustainable use of wetland resources.

4.3 The institutional deficiencies verified by competent organs of the Convention are described rather clearly in the introduction of this report. Indeed, there has been a delay in their fulfilment on the part of the central authority. For example, the 10 delineation studies for an equal number of Ramsar sites, of good quality even with current standards, which were produced in 1986 through an initiative of IPEHODE, could have been used as a basis for the issuing of basic regulatory acts before 1988. Today, many of these deficiencies have been corrected or are at the stage of completion, except for the management bodies issue, which has proceeded at a lower pace.

4.4 From 1982 to this date several hundreds of documents have been published (studies, reports, letters), some of which were co-signed by us, stressing with great emphasis the necessity to establish and to legally safeguard management bodies for the wetlands (and other natural areas). Today, judging by the result of the last two years, we have the view that the emphasis placed during all these years on this issue may have been rather excessive. We are not sure that a type of management body, which will be large, complex and intricate, as most of the suggested patterns were, and indeed still are today, can greatly improve the management conditions of an area without prior fulfilment of the most important prerequisite. As such we believe to be a satisfactory level of environmental awareness of the inhabitants, in order for them to approve of regulations in favour of the natural values of the wetlands. Not only was this prerequisite not fulfilled in all wetlands during the last decade, but also in some there has even existed a negative attitude. We presume, therefore, that the establishment of such bodies for wetlands in the past decade may not have produced the expected results. A possible exception may be Lake Mikri Prespa, because there are indications that if a special and appropriately staffed forestry office had been established since 1976 for the Prespes National Park, today the situation there would have been better in several aspects.

4.5 We do not know whether the motive impelling the Greek State to prefer the formation of rather informal preliminary management schemes to the direct establishment of legally validated bodies was hesitation or prudence. The results now show that it was prudence, because the schemes deal with problems of various form and gravity, both objectively and subjectively. Let us not forget that there is not sufficient experience in Greece for the formulation and function of relevant institutions; therefore the preliminary stage may be considered useful. Indeed, we are not quite certain whether the conditions in all Ramsar wetlands will be mature until the end of 1999 for the legal validation of the final management bodies. We quote here the opinion of the expert researchers on the subject of the management bodies (T. Arapis and E. Pappas 1994 personal communication), according to which it is advisable that the establishment of bodies moves parallel to or even follows the implementation of protection and promotion projects and actions.

4.6 The institutional deficiencies that clearly exist should probably not be considered as an absolute argument against the removal of the Greek wetlands of international importance from the Montreux Record. A great number of measures have been (and are still being) taken in favour of the protection and sustainable management, in spite of these institutional deficiencies. The settling of pending issues is definitely demanded, and in many cases it may promote and safeguard certain issues to a much higher degree, e.g. by facilitating the legal suits against illegal or unwise actions.

4.7 The committee’s attention inevitably focused less on institutional matters, where the above-mentioned deficiencies exist, and more on substantial matters (i.e. actual conservation). In our opinion, the most essential exhortation of the Convention bodies to the Greek State is to promote the sustainable use of wetland resources. Has the state (and the Greek society in general) responded to this exhortation? Chapter 2 of this report, as well as the answers to the attached questionnaires, indicates that there has been a definitely greater response in this decade compared to the past one. Can this be considered satisfactory? We believe that in general it cannot, if we assess the result, using the ideal management objective for each wetland as a criterion. Nevertheless, we believe that, if we use the operational management objective as a criterion, a remarkable progress has been achieved in certain wetlands and in certain individual units of wetland complexes, while in others the situation is stationary or deteriorating. Generally, the factors inducing positive change have not yet been able to reverse the factors inducing negative change (e.g. ignorance, wrongly intended interests of certain social groups). It is, however, remarkable that negative trends have been observed to be decreasing in several cases. Of course, we also express our disappointment about the fact that in some wetlands (i.e. Nestos Delta, Lake Vistonis - Porto Lagos, Lake Ismaris and Rodopi Lagoons) aggravation phenomena are observed today compared to the past decade.

4.8 During the formulation of our opinions, we were preoccupied about those Ramsar sites, which virtually consist of complexes of distinct individual wetland units (e.g. lakes Volvi - Koronia, Amvrakikos Gulf). We observed obvious differences in the condition of individual wetland units. Scientifically there can be no doubt that the fragmentation of a protected area in sections of various protection degrees can often be problematic for the whole. Nevertheless, we have decided to suggest to IPEHODE to consider the separation of individual wetland units with great differences in their current condition, with respect to their inclusion in or removal from the Montreux Record. In the judgement of the Committee, such a separation might possibly function in favour of a more effective protection of the remaining sections. We do not know whether our suggestion is compatible to the existing procedures.

4.9 There are indications that the signing of the Ramsar Convention by the Greek State had a positive effect on the protection of Greek wetlands. In the case of Lake Mikri Prespa, however, the contribution was smaller, due to the practically stricter protection status offered to the lake by the fact that it is part of the National Park. There are no indications that the inclusion of the Greek Ramsar wetlands in the Montreux Record had any positive or negative effect at a prefecture or local level. On the other hand, we presume that the maintenance of certain wetlands in the Montreux Record and the possible notification of this fact to the local population and the staff of the public services, who, in the current decade are making sincere positive efforts, would cause a disappointment or even greater difficulties in regulation implementation. We note that the social ambient in these areas is equally sensitive and change-prone to the natural environment.

4.10 We are of the opinion that the questionnaires of the Ramsar Bureau for inclusion - removal, in the way they are structured and worded do not fully facilitate the formulation of answers. They allow for improvement both in form and in substance. We suggest to IPEHODE that it proposes to the Ramsar Bureau the improvement of the questionnaires.

4.11 We must place emphasis on a principal preoccupation, but also a constraint affecting the entire report and particularly the final proposition and categorisation of the wetlands with regard to maturity for removal. The preoccupation consists in whether the deficient institutional protection of the sites is a factor sufficient for maintaining them in the "black list" or whether one should focus on what really happens in the field. If the second is more important, a limitation results from the lack of reference levels at an international scale. What comparison can there be between the condition of Greek wetlands and the condition of other countries’ wetlands? Is it scientifically sound to compare the condition (or the potential for conservation or rehabilitation) of a freshwater wetland in an arid or semi-arid climatic zone and a similar wetland in a wetter zone? Should the inclusion - removal criteria be applied with the same strictness in both cases? Are wetlands of international importance in Greece, all of which are blacklisted, more neglected compared to non "black-listed" wetlands in other countries, even with a similar climate, similar financial and social dependence on wetland resources, similar geomorphology, equal or higher know-how and equal or higher standard of living? If it were possible to answer these questions, then the assessments and proposals of this report might have been different.

4.12 It is probable that many members of the scientific community and staff of public administration as well, will strongly disagree with many individual points and with the entire point of view of the report and with the proposals in particular. We hope that these disagreements will also be expressed in writing, particularly concerning possible errors or omissions of facts. It would also be useful to hear the different philosophies concerning the criteria, the way of their application among wetlands of the same country and among wetlands of different countries.

4.13 Finally, we repeat our general observation that in the period 1990-1998 in Greek wetlands of international importance several problems appear to be in the prospect of resolution (notwithstanding some retrogression) but progress has also been noted (there has also been progress in preparing the ground for the restoration of certain wetlands which are not of international importance). Although it is not immediately related to the question put to the committee, we cannot refrain from mentioning the preoccupation caused by the notification of the rather recent intentions of certain public services and social groups to drain parts of non internationally important wetlands for "development" purposes. The timely intervention of citizens, expert scientists and of the Environmental Planning Division of IPEHODE has averted the implementation of these intentions so far, but the danger of harmful interventions remains for numerous other small wetlands.

5. SYNOPSIS OF THE COMMITTEE’S OPINION

Based on the information we have been able to assemble on wetlands of international importance in Greece, our assessment of this information and within the limitations expressed previously and in Annex IV, we have the opinion that:

5.1 The arguments in favour of the removal are stronger than those against for the following three wetland sites: Lake Mikri Prespa, Artificial Lake Kerkini and Evros Delta. Completed questionnaires for these three sites are attached (Annex IV-1 to IV-3).

5.2 The arguments against removal are stronger than those in favour for the site Lakes Volvi - Koronia in its entirety, because Koronia, as it is known, has been degraded so much as to have lost most of its values. Considering Volvi, however, if examined separately, the arguments in favour of the removal are stronger than those against. A completed questionnaire for lake Volvi is attached (Annex IV-4), in case the relevant procedures of the Ramsar Convention allow individual distinct units to be excluded from a Ramsar site consisting of a wetland complex.

5.3 The request for the removal of Axios - Loudias - Aliakmon Delta at this moment would probably be premature, due mainly to pollution of the river Loudias and continuing accumulation of solid domestic wastes in the delta. Nevertheless, if the resolution of these two problems is put forward within 1999, the request for removal of this wetland complex could be forwarded. A completed questionnaire can be found in Annex V.

5.4 The arguments against removal are rather stronger than the ones in its favour for the following two wetland sites: Amvrakikos Gulf and Kotychi Lagoon - Strofylia Forest. No completed questionnaires are attached for these two sites, but the most important arguments against the removal are noted below for each site:

Amvrakikos Gulf: Reduced inflow of fresh water to the lagoons, doubtful sustainability of fish production works, completely inadequate control of illegal hunting.

Kotychi Lagoon - Strofylia Forest: completely inadequate control of harmful activities in Strofylia Forest, completely inadequate control of illegal hunting in the site in general.

5.5 Arguments against removal are definitely much stronger than those in its favour for the following three sites: Nestos Delta, Lake Vistonis - Porto Lagos - Lake Ismaris - Rodopi Lagoons and Messolonghi Lagoon. No completed questionnaires are attached for these sites, but the most important arguments against the removal are noted below for each site:

Nestos Delta: The argument that the water needs of the natural ecosystems of the delta were ignored by those responsible for the function of the upstream dams, can be considered conclusive. Moreover the construction of works in the lagoons often proceeds in ways which are not compatible with the conservation of their multiple values.

Lake Vistonis - Porto Lagos - Lake Ismaris - Rodopi Lagoons: Construction of various works, mainly for land reclamation, and also road opening, resort housing etc., as if the entire site had been completely insignificant ecologically.

Messolonghi Lagoon: Extensive illegal housing in sensitive areas, inability of even an elementary control of illegal hunting, waste disposal. Even if these problems did not exist, the great issue of the river Acheloos diversion casts a very heavy shadow on the broader area.

We are of the opinion that these three sites of paragraph 5.1 above could be immediately removed (lake Volvi as well, should this be allowed under normal procedures), the site of paragraph 5.3 can be removed very soon, while the sites of par. 5.4 can be removed in the immediate future when there is an unquestionable progress in diminishing most of their problems. For the three sites of paragraph 5.5 we cannot proceed to estimates on the time required before their removal is considered. What worries us especially in these three latter areas is the lack of a significant progress in the issue of environmental awareness of certain, politically powerful, social groups, in spite of the ingenious efforts made by NGOs and public services.


Annex I: Conclusions of technical reports and recommendations of the expert appointed from the Ramsar Bureau, Dr Cyrille de Klemm, from his visits to Greece (1988 & 1989)

Annex II: Instituted protection and management measures for Ramsar wetlands

Annex III: Program agreements for the protection and promotion of Ramsar wetlands (1996-1999)

Annex IV: Completed questionnaires for each of the wetlands proposed for removal from the Montreux Record

Annex IV-1: Completed questionnaire for Lake Mikri Prespa

Annex IV-2: Completed questionnaire for Artificial Lake Kerkini

Annex IV-3: Completed questionnaire for the Evros Delta

Annex IV-4: Completed questionnaire for Lake Volvi (part of Lakes Volvi & Koronia)

Annex V: Completed questionnaire for the Delta of Axios - Loudias - Aliakmon (and Aliki Kitrous)


ANNEX I

CONCLUSIONS OF TECHNICAL REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EXPERT APPOINTED FROM THE RAMSAR BUREAU, Dr. CYRILLE DE CLEMM, FROM HIS VISITS TO GREECE (1988 & 1989).

1. Report of the November 1988 visit - Conclusions

The great importance of the prevention of interventions which alter the ecological character of the wetlands and the great emphasis placed by the Convention on this sector are stressed.

The reduced number of scientific personnel dealing with wetland subjects in the Natural Environment Management Section of the Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works (IPEHODE) and the total lack of relevant people in the field is pointed out.

The lack of specific management bodies for protected areas is pointed out.

Extensive reference is made to Law 1650/86 and its various provisions on the establishment of protected areas (Presidential Decree following a Specific Environmental Study), the activity and land use restrictions in these areas, the Environmental Impact Assessment, the provision for re-evaluation of the protected areas every five years, the temporary character of the Joint Ministerial Decision for 2 or 3 years, etc., noting that after all, the part of the IPEHODE in the establishment and management of protected areas is, to a certain degree, vague.

Reference is made to the legal context on the physical planning of activities in non-urban areas and the planning of land use (Housing Control Zones), relevant provisions (Law 1650 etc.).

The part of the Forestry Service in protected area management in general and in conservation of Important Bird Areas in particular, on the basis of Directive 79/409/EEC (hunting prohibition) and the shortage of guards are described.

Reference is made to the Single Environmental Agency provided by Law 1650/86 (article 25) which to date has not been formed.

The part that can be played by the Local Government (LG) in the implementation of Law 1650 is pointed out, concerning protected area definition and management, via participatory procedures during planning, as well as with the legal possibility of forming Program Agreements between bodies of the LA and the public sector.

Reference is made to the increasing importance of the environmental agencies concerned with conservation (particular reference is made to the Hellenic Ornithological Society, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, the Friends of Prespes), while stress is placed on the inadequacy of their scientific background. Note is made of the part expected to be played by the Centre of Environmental Studies in covering the relevant needs. Reference is also made to the possibility of environmental NGOs to challenge legislative acts at the Council of State.

It is concluded that no steps have been taken towards the formation of a general (besides the Ramsar sites) national environmental policy on wetlands. However, the potential protective character of the Housing Control Zones is mentioned, as well as the possibility of making use of the 1984 Wetland Inventory for the legislation of wetland conservation. It is stressed that an action plan for wetlands with prioritised actions should be a future concern of the State.

It is pointed out that Law 1650/86 which provides the context for the establishment of the Ramsar sites, has gaps and contradictions, and, moreover, the various Presidential Decrees required for its activation have not yet been signed. Therefore, IPEHODE intends to forward only the temporary protection of certain Ramsar sites by Joint Ministerial Decisions (at that time: for Messolonghi, Amvrakikos, Kerkini and Vistonis). Nevertheless, the co-signation of the Joint Ministerial Decisions by the competent Ministries is a time-consuming process, during which any destructive and illegal actions in the sites may still continue. Another problem mentioned is the need to conduct detailed documentation studies (Specific Environmental Studies) before issuing a Presidential Decree.

Another problem, which contributes to the delay of issuing the Joint Ministerial Decisions, is described as the need for consultations with the local bodies and the estimation of the cost of the restriction and conservation measures.

A possible structure of a management body is described, which would consist of one Director, one technician, one administrative employee and guards, would have a small budget for research and possibly a local council at which the local services would be represented.

A concern is expressed regarding the fact that, while the drafting of a management plan is necessary (also according to Law 1650), there should be a minimum flexibility in management and in regulation detail, which should rest on the judgement of the management service/body of each area, something not so easy when a Presidential Decree is into force.

It is suggested that for the Ramsar sites, the most appropriate protected area category among those provided for by Law 1650 is "ecodevolopment areas", according to par.5 of article 19, since these are areas which will have "protection core areas" inside wider protected areas will include various subzones of various degrees of protection. Possible funds mentioned for the implementation of protection measures are the International Monetary Fund and Directive ACE/EEC.

The following are presented as special legal problems: a. lack of a possibility to make contracts between IPEHODE and private researchers and experts (i.e. ecologists, ornithologists etc.) and b. the time consuming and not at all popular procedure of land expropriation (according to 1650/86), which, moreover, remains a competency of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Note is made of the inadequate communication and co-ordination between Greece and the European Community during implementation of projects in wetlands, resulting in the expenditure of community funds (ACE/EEC) on projects which alter the ecological character of internationally important wetlands, the works done at lake Prespa via the Mediterranean Integrated Programs (MIP) being a most representative example. The need for better co-ordination on planning conservation actions and the extensive examination of the MIPs as funds for conservation projects in Ramsar wetlands is stressed.

It is mentioned that several Ramsar wetlands in Greece share their hydrological basins with other countries (FYROM, Bulgaria, Turkey, Albania, the first two –by then- being parties of the Ramsar Convention), a fact which in the future may cause water supply problems towards the Greek side, and that article 5 of the Convention on transboundary co-operations will remain pending until both other countries become Convention parties.

2. Report of the November 1988 visit - Recommendations

Activate par.5 of article 19 of Law 1650/86 via a Presidential Decree, in order to make the establishment of Ramsar sites as protected "ecodevelopment areas" possible, with the greatest possible administrative independence.

Consider the possibility to characterise all "ecodevelopment areas" as Housing Control Zones as well.

IPEHODE should examine information material, which will be sent by the Ramsar Bureau, concerning managed protected areas in other countries, so that it will be informed on approaches and methods on the management of its own.

Re-examine Greek legislation on planning (Housing Control Zones etc.) concerning its effectiveness at preventing negative interventions in wetlands, and consider legislating a permit system for all potentially harmful interventions, similar to the Spanish or the Danish one.

After the establishment of protected Ramsar sites is made possible, the need for preparing management plans will arise. A legal form should be found for the implementation of this plan to become a competency of the management body of each site, via the relevant Presidential Decree.

Legal obstacles hindering the protective action of IPEHODE should be determined and appropriate solutions ought to be sought. Such problems are e.g. the inability of IPEHODE to make contracts with researchers and the difficulty of land expropriation.

Consider the possibility of subsidising crop farming methods compatible with wetland conservation, for well meaning land owners (near or within wetlands). Examples of such cases from other countries can be provided by the Convention.

Ways should be sought to diminish the existing and potential conflicts of competencies between Ministries or between Ministries and LG.

Investigate the possibility, via a legislative act, to assist environmental NGOs in their action for conservation, through their participation in decision making, their representation in court, their subsidy for buying and managing protected areas and through their involvement in Program Agreements associated to the management of the respective sites.

In order to proceed to the necessary investigation for the application of the above mentioned recommendations, it is suggested that an informal working group should be formed, consisting of specialised lawyers with knowledge of environmental legislation, in order to locate the gaps and deal with existing problems.

There is an absolute necessity of drawing up guidelines, with external help, on various techniques and ecological aspects of wetland management:

a. extensive crop and animal farming
b. dealing with wetland alluvial deposits
c. definition, protection and management of important habitats of commercial fish species, which will contribute, in the long run, to ensuring the consent of the local fishermen communities in conservation
d. restoration or re-creation of endangered habitat types, such as the riparian forest Kotza-Orman in the flood plain of Nestos.
e. identification and description of conservation measures for endangered wetland habitat types

For some of the above subjects, i.e. fishing and agriculture in Greek Ramsar sites, guidelines for exercising aquaculture adapted to Greek reality, workshops could be organised.

Although the EC cannot be a contracting party of the Ramsar Convention, since all its member states (except Luxembourg) are parties, it is obliged to adopt the obligations arising from the Convention to its parties. Moreover, since many of the Ramsar sites are also to be protected under Directive 79/409/EEC, it is obliged to contribute to the prevention of destructive interventions in these sites. Finally, the forwarded (now implemented) Directive 92/43 on habitats and species, will impose additional habitat and species (including many wetland ones) protection obligations to the Community. The communication between the Ramsar Bureau and the EC, especially DG XI, should be improved, aiming at finding solutions to current problems and avoiding financing projects which harm wetlands. Among other things, the following should be investigated:

  • How the MIPs may be used to promote integrated wetland management.
  • What other financing sources may support conservation actions in certain areas, especially in high protection zones.

3. Report of the May 1989 visit - Conclusions

The statement of the intention of the Ministry of Merchant Marine to contribute to the implementation of conservation measures for Greek Ramsar wetlands, by exercising its legal competencies in zones under its jurisdiction, is described.

Note is made of i. the view of the Ministry of Agriculture that it ought to take over the management of Ramsar sites through its local services, including its guarding personnel, for covering the relevant necessities and ii. of the fact that the dispute concerning jurisdiction and legal competency on wetland management, between IPEHODE and the Ministry of Agriculture, remains.

The conclusion is drawn that the competencies on legislation and implementation of regulations and management and protection measures in Ramsar sites in Greece, is extremely intricate and complicated, and the fear is expressed that Ramsar wetland management may become chaotic in the future.

The great part that the Goulandris Natural History Museum (provided that it will be supplied with adequate resources) may play in the future in increasing the appreciation of wetland values in the Greek society, is stressed.

It is pointed out that the issuing of the Presidential Decrees required for bringing Law 1650 into full force is stationary.

Note is made of the progress made (in comparison to the last visit in November 1988) a. concerning the drafting of Joint Ministerial Decisions for the 10 (except Prespa) Ramsar sites, the greater being that of Amvrakikos gulf (then signed by the deputy Minister of the Environment and with the rest of the signatures pending) and b. concerning the designation of the future high protection zones of the Ramsar sites as Special Protection Areas, in accordance with Directive 79/409/EEC (although even the validation of these sites as such will only be achieved after the Joint Ministerial Decisions have been signed), which will, hopefully, protect these sites from additional harmful works, at least through community projects.

Stress is placed once more on the temporary character of the Joint Ministerial Decisions as legal protection means, and on the immediate necessity for issuing Presidential Decrees for all Ramsar sites.

Reference is made to the international conference on wetlands which took place in Thessaloniki in April 1989, organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Ecology and Environmental Protection Laboratory of the School of Agriculture of the University of Thessaloniki and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the resulting Action Plan for the Protection and Management of Greek Wetlands, and the contribution of these to increasing the realisation of the necessity to protect Greek wetlands of international importance.

It is stressed that, in spite of the efforts to date, Greek Ramsar wetlands are still menaced by planned and occasionally implemented projects, often indeed with community financing.

4. Report of the May 1989 visit - Recommendations

The issuing of Joint Ministerial Decisions for all Ramsar wetlands of Greece should be urgently forwarded.

The procedures required for issuing Presidential Decrees for all Ramsar wetlands of Greece should begin immediately. The Presidential Decrees should establish the relevant management bodies, require management plans and provide for measures to ensure implementation.

Repeat of recommendation 2.8 with a greater emphasis.

Repeat of recommendation 2.1.

Given that Law 1650/86 does not solve the problems of the dispute concerning competencies, the creation of a legal framework for integrated protected area management is suggested, which will give general directions. The regulations and arrangements particular to each site will be then deduced by specification of these general directions according to the site particularities (a similar approach is followed in Italy).

The possibility of a profound revision of Law 1650/86, since three (at the time) years after its issuing, the Presidential Decrees necessary for its full activation have not been issued, has to be examined. The revision should offer the context for the integrated management of "ecodevelopment areas"

In any case, the structure (the balanced representation of the bodies concerned is important), the establishment mode and the competencies of the management bodies should be examined. As such are suggested: formulation of regulations, purchase or expropriation of land, issuing permits for all or some of the activities within the sites, subsidising, management contracts, drafting and revision of management plans, imposition of fines.

Due to the large number of services concerned, a service should be appointed which will have a co-ordinating role concerning the implementation of regulations and protection measures and the co-operation among the various parties. The possibility of creating teams of specially trained personnel in conservation subjects (one for each Ramsar site) within the Police or the Forestry Offices should be examined.

The Presidential Decrees, besides promoting the preparation and implementation of the management plans, should also determine the requirements for the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure on any activities which may have negative impact on Ramsar wetlands. Local services should assist in the evaluation of the Environmental Impact Statements.

Ways should be sought for the co-operation of Greece with the countries with which it shares hydrological basins of the Ramsar wetlands in its territory (investigate 2 paths: the existing co-operations of Greece with these countries and article 5 of the Ramsar Convention).

Repetition of recommendation 2.12.

Repetition of recommendation 2.7. There should be a greater flow of community funds (ACE) towards Greece, for implementation of nature protection projects.

The Action Plan for Greek wetlands resulting from the conference described in 4.6 above, should be submitted to the Greek government to be adopted as a policy text. Moreover, a scientific working group should be created, which will further promote the issue, as provided for by the very Action Plan.

The necessity appears for setting up a Ramsar committee in Greece, which will consist of Government representatives, scientific bodies and NGOs. The scientific group referred to in 4.13 should be represented in this committee. The said committee should identify the main problems concerning the implementation of the Convention in Greece and seek solutions.

The information and education of the public concerning wetland value is of great importance for their conservation. The Goulandris Natural History Museum is in position to undertake production of material, organisation of exhibitions and campaigns, provided that it will receive the necessary financial support from the international community.

The international conservation community should financially support the local NGOs and local branches of national NGOs, so that protection actions at the local level will be enforced (an example of successful local action: the Friends of Prespes).

It is very important that the search for outside financing for implementation of conservation actions in Greek wetlands, particularly those of international importance, should continue.


ANNEX II

INSTITUTED PROTECTION AND MANAGEMENT MEASURES FOR RAMSAR WETLANDS

Evros Delta JMD 8586/1883 (GGI 376B / 27-4-98)

Measures for the protection of wetlands and natural formations at the estuary of the river Evros and its wider area

Nestos Delta, Lake Vistonis, Porto Lagos Lagoon, Lake Ismaris, Rodopi Lagoons JMD 5796 (GGI 854B / 16-9-96)

Designation of wetlands Nestos Delta, Lake Vistonis, Lake Ismaris and their wider area as National Park

Lake Kerkini JMD 66272/25-6-93 (GGI 493B / 7-7-93)

Measures for the protection of the wetland of artificial lake Kerkini and its wider area

Extension : 66231 / 2051 / 3-3-96 (GGI 259B / 19-4-96)

Lakes Koronia and Volvi Draft JMD has been sent from the Minister of the Environment to the co-competent ministers for signatures
Axios-Loudias-Aliakmon Delta JMD 14874/3291 (GGI 687B/6-7-98)

Measures for the protection of the wetlands of the Kitros Saltworks (Alyki Kitrous), the lower part and Delta of the rivers Aliakmon, Loudias, Axios, Gallikos, the Kalochori Lagoon and their wider area

Lake Mikri Prespa PD 46/18-1-74

On the establishment of the Prespa National Park

Amvrakikos Gulf JMD 30027/1193/9-3-90 (GGI 194B / 29-3-90)

Measures for the protection of the wetland of Amvrakikos gulf and its wider area

Extension : JMD 16611/1993 (GGI 158B / 22-2-1993)

Messolonghi-Etoliko Lagoon JMD 1319 (GGI 755B / 28-9-93)

measures for the protection of the wetlands of the Messolonghi - Etoliko lagoons, the lower part and estuaries of rivers Evinos and Acheloos and other habitats of their wider area

Kotychi Lagoon - Strofylia Forest JMD 66289/25-6-93 (GGI 506B / 9-7-93)

Measures for the protection of habitats of Strofylia Forest (Achaia - Ilia Prefectures), Kotychi Lagoon (Ilia Prefecture) and their wider area

Extension : JMD 68246/2499/20-3-96 (GGI 303B / 6-5-96)

JMD - Joint Ministerial Decision
GGI - Government Gazette Issue


 ANNEX III

PROGRAM AGREEMENTS FOR THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF RAMSAR WETLANDS (1996-1999)

Evros Delta Signed on 6/5/1997 by the Minister of the Environment and includes projects and activities up to the amount of 123.000.000 drs. The total amount was revised in 1998 to 329.000.000 drs with the addition of new activities
Nestos Delta, Lake Vistonis, Porto Lagos Lagoon, Lake Ismaris, Rodopi Lagoons Two separate Program Agreements (Nestos Delta and Lake Vistonis) were signed on 6/5/1997 by the Minister of the Environment and include projects and activities up to 150.000.000 drs and 148.000.000 drs respectively. The total amounts were revised in 1998 to 281.900.000 drs and 303.500.000 drs respectively with the addition of more items. A Program Agreement for Lake Ismaris has been drafted for signature, with projects and activities up to 172.500.000 drs.
Lake Kerkini A Program Agreement was signed on 6/5/1997 by the Minister of the Environment and includes projects and activities up to the amount of 139.000.000 drs. The total amount was revised in 1998 to 248.600.000 drs with the addition of more items.
Lakes Koronia and Volvi A Program Agreement was signed on 6/5/1997 by the Minister of the Environment and includes projects and activities up to the amount of 150.000.000 drs. The total amount was revised in 1998 to 566.700.000 drs with the addition of more items
Axios-Loudias-Aliakmon Delta and Alikes Kitrous A Program Agreement was signed on 6/5/1997 by the Minister of the Environment and includes projects and activities up to the amount of 191.500.000 drs. The total amount was revised in 1998 to 657.110.000 drs with the addition of more items.
Lake Mikri Prespa A Program Agreement was signed on 15/3/1996 by the Minister of the Environment and includes projects and activities up to the amount of 353.370.000 drs.
Amvrakikos Gulf A Program Agreement was signed on 30/4/1996 by the Minister of the Environment and includes projects and activities up to the amount of 250.000.000 drs. The total amount was revised in 1997 to 424.530.000 drs with the addition of more items.
Messolonghi - Etoliko Lagoon A Program Agreement was signed on 6/5/1997 by the Minister of the Environment and includes projects and activities up to the amount of 137.000.000 drs. The total amount was revised in 1998 to 519.100.000 drs with the addition of more items.
Kotychi Lagoon - Strofylia Forest A Program Agreement was signed on 6/5/1997 by the Minister of the Environment and includes projects and activities up to the amount of 175.000.000 drs. The total amount was revised in 1998 to 300.400.000 drs with the addition of more items.

JMD - Joint Ministerial Decision
GGI - Government Gazette Issue


ANNEX IV

 COMPLETED QUESTIONNAIRES FOR EACH OF THE WETLANDS PROPOSED FOR REMOVAL FROM THE MONTREUX RECORD


ANNEX IV – 1

COMPLETED QUESTIONNAIRE FOR LAKE MIKRI PRESPA

MONTREUX RECORD

Section One: Information for assessing possible inclusion of a listed site in the Montreux Record

Essential items

I 1. Name of site: Lake Mikri Prespa

I 2. Ramsar Criteria for listing the site as internationally important. Which criteria are still valid.

The following criteria are mentioned on the Information Sheet concerning the area:

1a | 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d | 3b, 3c, | 4a, 4b.

The above criteria are still valid.

I 3. Nature of the change in ecological character/ potential for adverse change

  1. Partial loss of the surface area of hydric soils
  2. Increase in the reedbed area
  3. Increase of solids and possibly of nutrients (N, P) entering the wetland
  4. Decrease in the number of people living permanently in the ten nearby settlements
  5. Change in the composition of fish fauna
  6. Change in the number of breeding bird species
  7. Change in the vegetation of wet meadows
  8. Change in the genotype of farm animals
  9. Change of hydrological regime

I 4. Reasons for adverse change, or potential adverse change, in ecological character (reference is made to the corresponding numbering of answers to question I 3)

The main human-related reason for the changes mentioned in the previous paragraph were the efforts of the Greek State to rid the inhabitants of the Prespa area, who depend directly or indirectly on wetland resources, from poverty and to ensure tolerable living conditions in order for them to remain in the area and thus preserve its agricultural character. These efforts were based on the developmental concepts and the policies ruling the entire world during the first decades following the nine-year war (Second World War and Civil War, 1940-1949). During the first decade following the Civil War, for the Prespa area and all frontier areas, the eradication of poverty and national security were priority issues.

Specific reasons (many of which derived from the main one), classified according to the type of ecological change, are the following (it should be noted that one can pinpoint various degrees of interaction among the various reasons and that it is not possible to quantify all causes):

  1. Creation of an irrigation network a small part of which was located in hydric soils following their drainage. This occurred because of lack of knowledge at the time. The drainage of part of hydric soil areas did in no way benefit the inhabitants.
  1. Gradually, the inhabitants ceased to cut and remove reeds because living conditions had changed and they no longer needed this type of material. Cutting ceased abruptly at the beginning of the 1970s because of a prohibition. The prohibition was considered then as a measure in favour of nature conservation.
  1. There were two main causes: firstly, the embankment of some permanent and seasonal watercourses –– and secondly, the construction and operation of the irrigation network. Secondary causes that can be mentioned are the operation of a cannery (effluents entered the lake) and the possible entry of effluents from small settlements and the very small number of animal farming units.
  1. A decrease in the rural population was observed in the Prespa area, just like in many other parts of Greece and other northern Mediterranean countries. However, this decrease was more severe in the Prespa area because of the lack of satisfactory employment opportunities and the war and post-war adventures. Entire villages were totally deserted. The number of animal farmers decreased particularly. Current agro-economic and agronomic conditions do not allow people to reap the same economic benefits from the cultivation of plants and the rearing of farm animals as they did 10 - 15 years ago. The problems faced by both these activities are more serious in the Prespa area than in other, areas in Greece due to the relief, difficulties of access to high technology, climatic conditions, etc. On the contrary, the number of visitors is increasing This benefits the local economy but at the same time sometimes causes problems (e.g. disturbs the avifauna).
  1. The following are considered as causes: firstly, the introduction of exotic species in view of increasing the revenue of fishermen of the countries to which Lake Mikri Prespa belongs. This introduction was based on past fish production concepts which, not only did not solve any problems, but also created new ones in Greece and elsewhere. Another cause is the unintended introduction. Secondly, overfishing that is perhaps associated to a certain extent with diseases afflicting carp. Thirdly, indirect causes such as the alteration of aquatic vegetation (e.g. cessation of traditional reedbed management).
  1. Sakoulis and Bourdakis (1998), referring to information provided by Grimmet and Jones (1989), Catsadorakis (1996) and the Hellenic Ornithological Society (1997), present the changes for breeding species of the Prespa area in the following table:
Species Grimmet & Jones 1989 (pairs) Hell. Ornith. Soc. 1997 (pairs)
Platalea leucorodia 2 (120 to 1969*) Last nesting in 1992
Phalacrocorax pygmeus 100-150 400
Pelecanus crispus 165 500
Ardeola ralloides 50-100 10-20
Egretta garzetta <100 22-35
Anser anser max 170 max 45
Aythya nyroca 10 3

* Catsadorakis 1996

The same authors discuss the above table as follows: "For the Dalmatian Pelican and the Pygmy Cormorant, world-threatened species, a significant increase in breeding populations has been noted that must be attributed to the guarding of their colonies and therefore the minimisation of disturbance. The decrease observed for the remaining species is due to land reclamation works and the change in land use in the agricultural zone that led to the destruction of feeding grounds for the birds (Catsadorakis 1996)."

As previously mentioned, it is logical to conclude that the irrigation network is an important cause of negative changes because its extension to purely wetland locations destroyed aquatic bird habitats. The cannery, the fish breeding station and certain visitor activities caused similar damage of habitats, but in a much smaller scale. We believe, however, that the positive changes shown in the table might be due to adverse man-made or natural changes that occurred in other wetlands within and outside Greece, that are functionally linked to Mikri Prespa. Furthermore, there is no information about the effects of the entry into Greece of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants during the past years, the reduced rainfall, and the changes in wet meadow vegetation due to reduced animal farming activities.

  1. At present, social and economic factors discourage animal farming activities in the Prespa area, just like in many other areas of Greece. The Prespa wet meadow vegetation has evolved through the century-long presence of grazing farm animals. The reduction in the number of grazing animals during the current decade is expected to have interesting consequences on the structure of vegetation and the composition of the flora species in the wet meadows.
  1. Throughout Greece, during the post-war period, many changes in the species and races of farm animals occurred. Most changes were intended in order to increase animal production. Some were successful and others not, whereas some led to loss of valuable genetic material that was adapted to local conditions. The Prespa area was not an exception to the general phenomenon but there are still some genotypes that present scientific interest (perhaps also economic). The preservation of these depends on the increase of knowledge and the possibility to implement the agri-environmental policy measures of the European Union.
  1. The most important visible change in the hydrological regime of Mikri Prespa was the diversion of the Agios Germanos stream that was made many years ago, in order to direct its discharge into Megali Prespa instead of Mikri Prespa. Furthermore, especially during July-August, water is pumped out from Mikri Prespa in order to supply part of the irrigation network.

Additional items which may be included

I 5. Data Information Sheets on Ramsar Wetlands submitted

See Information Sheet submitted by the Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works on 1.6.1998.

I 6. Date and source of Information Sheet updates

See Information Sheet submitted by the Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works on 1.6.1998.

I 7. Benefits and values derived from the site

Functions

Although quantitative data is insufficient, the natural wetland functions of Mikri Prespa are identified and evaluated theoretically (see Adamus et al 1987, A. Gerakis and Kalburji 1998), as follows:

Functions Possible degree of performance
Support of food webs

Nutrient removal / transformation

Sediment / toxicant retention

Flood flow alteration

Ground water supply

Storage and release of heat

Regulation of salt balance

High

High

Medium

Medium

Medium

High

High

Wetland values that ensue from the performance of functions and the existence of other characteristics are evaluated as follows. Furthermore, we evaluate the degree of usage of each value today (see A. Gerakis and Kalburji 1998).

Values Degree of value Degree of usage
Drinking water supply Medium None
Irrigation High Medium
Fishing Low High
Animal Farming Medium Medium
Hunting Medium Very low to none
Wood/fibre production Low None
Sand extraction Low Low
Scientific High High
Educational High High
Cultural High High
Recreational High High
Flood control High Non applicable
Water quality improvement High Non applicable
Topoclimatic High Non applicable

The wetland has no salt extraction or therapeutic value.

It is underlined that the evaluation of wetland functions and values is characterised by a fluctuating degree of subjectivity. This degree depends both on existing quantitative data and on the selected evaluation criteria. The above tables only constitute a first approximation. We note that the long and serious efforts made to inventory the structural features of the wetland were not so far followed by an equal effort to evaluate the functions, the values and the uses of the wetland during the various periods of its post-war history.

The remarkable biological value (in terms of biodiversity) of Mikri Prespa has been documented (see Ramsar Information Sheet submitted by the Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works on 1.6.1998 and relevant literature).

I 8. Extent to which values and benefits derived from the site have decreased or changed.

There is an increasing trend of the four social values; the seven economic values that produce benefits after effort (except fishing) and the three economic values that produce benefit without effort seem to remain stable. The fishing value has decreased for the reasons mentioned previously but may be rehabilitated to a certain degree through the implementation of sustainable management measures.

The biological value continues to be high despite adverse human interventions. Its rehabilitation to pre-1960 levels (real and presumed) seems technically and ecologically impossible whatever measures are taken. This is because certain key fauna habitats have already been lost or altered especially due to the installation of the irrigation network. On the other hand, suitable hydrological and agronomic management (uneconomical in the short-run in purely economic terms) of the irrigation network, may contribute to the increase in diversity of domesticated plants and animals and even wild fauna and flora. We do not know to what extent decision - makers have accepted that the rehabilitation of Mikri Prespa to a much older reference level is not only a utopia but also undesirable and that the immediate operational objective of rehabilitation should be stabilisation of the situation, with regard to the natural functions and the human population. Most probably, the first set of measures should aim at inhibiting meaningless negative actions and at ensuring that inhabitants remain in their homes and are guaranteed a satisfactory income from the cultivation of plants and the rearing of animals.

I 9. Monitoring programme in place at the site, if any (technique(s), objectives and nature of data and information gathered).

Survey, surveillance and monitoring projects are:

Project Object Implementation
1. Protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece Pygmy Cormorant populations, use of habitats WWF, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP)
2. Ecology of the White Pelican and the Dalmatian Pelican Populations, use of habitats, etc. Biological Station Tour du Valat, SPP
3. Endemic species of Mediterranean freshwater fish Species, populations, ecology, etc. Tour du Valat Biological Station, SPP
4. Abiotic characteristics of the lake Secchi disc reading, level fluctuation, temperature, use of water SPP
5. Pollutants from agrochemicals Detection of residues in water Prefecture of Florina, Benakio Institute for Plant Pathology
6. Bird census Wintering populations of aquatic birds Hellenic Ornithological Society
7. Recording of hydrological and other parameters Water level in lakes, ordinary meteorological data Public Power Corporation (PPC)

In the past, the School of Agriculture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki had made short-term efforts to survey the qualitative parameters of certain streams flowing into Mikri Prespa. The PPC had monitored the flow of the Agios Germanos stream.

It is perhaps useful to mention that the 1991 management study for the Prespa National Park (Kasioumis 1991) contains interesting monitoring proposals. The principles that should govern monitoring (as a management tool) in sites of the NATURA 2000 network are discussed in a recent study (Anagnostopoulou 1996) financed by the European Commission and the Ministries of Environment and of Agriculture.

I 10. Assessment procedures in place, if any (how is the information obtained from the monitoring programme used)

It is implicit that the agency financing a project has its own internal evaluation procedure for data submitted by the implementing body. The data from project 6 are being processed by the Hellenic Ornithological Society and are sent to Wetlands International. The competent department of the central services of the Public Power Corporation in Athens processes the data from project 7.

None of the seven projects are linked to mechanisms of direct intervention. The information produced, generally contributes to the improvement of scientific knowledge of the area and clarifies certain management issues related to natural, agricultural and range ecosystems.

Particular reference should be made to the surveillance project for agricultural pesticide residues. Ever since the 1970s, the scientific postulation that the intensification of agriculture can lead to a dangerous accumulation of very toxic substances in the wetland biota has been put forth repeatedly. It is hoped that the results of the project will help to add suppressive measures, regarding the use of certain pesticides, to the preventive measures already in force, should that prove necessary.

I 11. Ameliorative and restoration measures in place or planned (if any) so far

Legal measures

The already powerful older legal protection framework (National Park, Wetland of International Importance) has been reinforced. The site is also an Important Bird Area, and in 1997 was proposed by the Greek State for inclusion in the European NATURA 2000 network – Code number GR 1340001.

Other special regulatory acts that have been published in favour of the protection of the environment concern hunting, drilling and water pumping, disposal of inert materials and waste disposal.

Measures for the improvement of scientific knowledge

During the current decade, a considerable number of research projects, concerning the natural environment directly or indirectly, have been carried out. It is worth mentioning that three doctoral theses have been completed (G. Catsadorakis, Dionisia Chatzilakou, Eleni Tryfon).

(Reference to all research work carried out during the current decade is beyond the scope of the present report).

Management measures

The management study for the Prespa National Park produced by an inter-disciplinary group co-ordinated by the ever memorable G.E. Hollis (1990) and the special study made by the same group which sought to answer key management questions (G.E.Hollis, 1989), constitute decisive points. These studies were based on previous shorter management studies (e.g. Pyrovetsi et al 1984, Catsadorakis 1988). An inter-ministerial group co-ordinated by K. Kasioumis (General Secretariat for Forests and the Natural Environment) improved the Hollis group study by adapting it to Greek legislation and practice. The Kasioumis study was not put into force officially. In 1997, the Prefecture of Florina assigned a Specific Environmental Study (in accordance with Law 1650) to the Argyropoulos consultancy. This is basically a management study and will contain the draft Presidential Decree for the zoning of the area, regulation of activities, etc. We presume that this study will be based on the Kasioumis study but that it will complete, improve and adapt it to current ecological, legal and social conditions.

Despite the fact that there is no official management plan yet, the Forestry Department of the Prefecture of Florina uses the Kasioumis study as a source of guidelines for the implementation of management measures.

The body responsible for the National Park (and therefore the wetland) continues to be the Forestry Service of the Prefecture of Florina. However, other prefecture services are responsible for certain management issues (e.g. agricultural, physical planning, archaeological). In 1997, a Preliminary Management Scheme was set up through a Programme Agreement that was signed by the Ministers of Environment and of Agriculture, by the services of the Western Macedonia Region and the Local Authorities. This scheme seeks to contribute, among others, to a more efficient co-ordination of management.

Information and awareness measures

Certain actions have been carried out in order to inform users about the natural resources of the Prespa area. Information included the need and the possibility to implement more sustainable practices that can contribute to the reduction of adverse effects on the wetland caused by production practices in the hydrological basin. Examples: the Agricultural University of Athens carried out a soil survey and a soil map was produced. The School of Agriculture of the University of Thessaloniki, in co-operation with the Florina Division of Agriculture organised a demonstration of more sustainable practices for farmers that lasted a few days.

The most important public awareness actions for inhabitants and visitors were carried out by the SPP. The dominant action was the setting up and the operation of two Information Centres. Furthermore, an archive/library for the Prespa area was created, educational material was produced, Environmental Education seminars were organised etc. In 1996, one of the most attractive books written until now about Greek wetlands (Catsadorakis 1996) was published.

Measures and projects under implementation

The main projects and measures implemented until now in the greater Prespa area that are expected, directly or indirectly, to positively affect the Mikri Prespa wetland are the following:

"Integrated programme for the protection and the promotion of the Prespes ecosystem".

(The project is being carried out in the Prespa National Park area. It includes the lakes of Mikri Prespa and Megali Prespa as well as part of their hydrological basin that is on Greek territory. It includes studies, projects, equipment and the implementation of measures in view of the promotion, the protection and the management of the area)

More specifically, it includes:

  • The elaboration of a Specific Environmental Study
  • The implementation of an information network through the construction of information offices and thematic information centres in the communities of Agios Germanos, Vrondero and Pyli
  • Infrastructure projects (wooden pier for the community of Psarades)
  • Forest management technical projects – Cleaning and marking of educational paths
  • Publicity – Awareness – Information (Publication of informative brochures and printed material for visitors – Organisation of conferences)
  • Design and implementation of a guarding - monitoring system for the natural environment

Financial framework: Operational Programme: "Environment" (Sub-programme 3: Management of the natural environment and natural resources, Measure 3.2. Creation of infrastructure for the management and the protection of important biotopes of the country)
Budget: 353.370.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Florina Development S.A.
Duration of project: 1997 to 1998

"Highland and cultural tourism" (Includes the whole Prefecture of Florina)

Financial framework: LEADER II (Agricultural Development Programme), Measure 6.
Budget: 49.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Florina Development S.A
Duration of project: 1-1-97 to 31-12-99

Furthermore, other potential projects proposed by the Prefecture for the five-year plan and that will be implemented when each body is financed, are the following (Study for the Development of the Prespa Area, Florina Development S.A., 5/1996):

"Elaboration of a study for crop pattern change"

Financial framework: LEADER II, INTERREG II, Operational Programme of the Ministry of Agriculture
Budget: 10.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation Body: Regional Council, Florina Association of Agricultural Co-operatives

"Creation of a model farm for the production of organic and conventional local products"

Financial framework: LEADER II, INTEREG II, Operational Programme of the Ministry of Agriculture, Own resources
Budget: 40.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Private individuals, Florina Association of Agricultural Co-operatives

"Levelling – cleaning in the northern zone of the irrigation network"

Financial framework: Regional Operational Programmes (PEP)
Budget: 60.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Land Reclamation Service of Florina Prefecture

"Study – construction of an irrigation network in the northern (high) zone"

Financial framework: Regional or National Operational Programmes
Budget: 100.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Land Reclamation Service of Florina Prefecture, Ministry of Agriculture

"Operation of the fish breeding station in Lake Mikri Prespa"

Financial framework: Fisheries Operational Programme, INTERREG II Community initiative
Budget: 30.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Florina Prefecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

"Support for shoreline-riparian tourism"

Financial framework: INTERREG II, LEADER II, Development Law 2234/94, Own resources
Budget: 500.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Local Authorities, National Tourism Organisation, private individuals

"Control of the fluctuation of the water level of lakes Mikri Prespa and Megali Prespa using the waters of river Devol of Albania"’

Financial framework: Community initiative INTERREG II – PHARE
Budget: 300.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: -

 "Hydrogeological study on the axis of the complex of carstic lakes Mikri-Megali Prespa & Ochrida for the protection of ground and surface water".

Financial framework: INTERREG II – PHARE Community initiative
Budget: 800.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Florina Development S.A., Institute of Geological and Mining Exploration (IGME), Institute of Geology of Koritsa and the equivalent Institute of Skopje.

"Elaboration of an integrated management study for effluents in the study area".

Financial framework: Regional Operational Programme
Budget: 15.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Regional Council, Prefecture of Florina

"Realisation of infrastructure projects for the protection and the contribution to development (wooden piers, projects to safeguard the water level limits in lake Mikri Prespa, Centre for Protection and Medical Care of Fauna"

Financial framework: Operational Programme: "Environment", Community initiative INTERREG II – PHARE, LEADER II, Own resources
Budget: 250.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Body entrusted with the implementation of the Prespa development programme, Prefecture of Florina, Ministry for the Environment, Florina Forestry Service, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Regional Council

I 12. List of attachments provided by the Contracting Party

I 13. List of attachments provided by the Ramsar Bureau

Section Two: Information for assessing possible removal of a listed site from the Montreux Record

II 1. Success of ameliorative, restoration and protection measures

The general legal framework for protection has become stronger. Furthermore, certain prohibitive regulations have been adopted (e.g. about hunting).

The contribution of the under completion Specific Environmental Study to the clarification and the updating of regulations regarding uses is expected to be important.

The enforcement of prohibitions is not very efficient due to the forestry service’s shortage in personnel and resources. The personnel that has been employed recently by the Preliminary Management Scheme does not have any competence as far as policing is concerned but can act efficiently and prevent illegal activities by notifying the forestry service and the police; it can also denounce violators. It should be noted that in certain cases in the past a simple remark by researchers directed to "potential" violators has sufficed to avoid certain destructive actions. Totally efficient wardening in large natural areas requires dozens of wardens, which is not economically feasible. Even if it were, success depends on co-operation with the local population. Finally, the most important condition for the avoidance of harmful actions is increase awareness of the local public. Progress has been made in this area during the past years.

Scientific knowledge about the wetland and the wider area has improved a lot during the current decade. However, priorities given to various research topics by various private and public financing bodies vary significantly. Priority was clearly in favour of natural ecosystems and particularly in favour of one feature, namely, avifauna. This is logical from one point of view because ornithologists and nature lovers were those who first "discovered", publicised internationally, and stressed the ecological interest of the area. On the other hand, much less attention was given to factors that safeguard or weaken, depending on particular manipulations, the lake’s biota. Even less attention has been given to social and economic issues.

The Pyrovetsi (1984) and Kasioumis (1991) studies recommended the adoption of more sustainable production practices for the man-made ecosystems in order to confront non point-source pollution at the place of origin. Inhabitants had agreed and had persistently asked to be trained in those more sustainable practices. The answers that they received consisted of generalities about the need to decrease agrochemicals etc. and wishful thinking. However certain concrete actions took place, such as a soil survey study (one of the main prerequisites for sustainable agriculture) carried out by the Agricultural University of Athens (Kosmas et al 1990) and a small research/ demonstration project, carried out by the School of Agriculture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Veresoglou et al 1990). None of the projects had a follow-up and only certain results of the second one were applied. Later on others were carried out and additional efforts are still being made e.g. a research project for the management of wet meadows - reedbeds by the introduction of buffaloes (SPP, School of Forestry and the Natural Environment of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Tour du Valat), project for organic cultivation of dry beans. The second project, although the most successful organic farming project that has been carried out until today in the hydrological basins of Greek wetlands (A.Gerakis et al 1998) can contribute very little to the mitigation of non point-source agricultural pollution. The peculiar rules for organic farming cannot possibly be applied (it may even be unwanted to) as such to a large part of the cultivated area. A realistic approach is the wise use of chemicals and other means of production according to the principles on which the research/ demonstration project of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was based. The under implementation project for the "Creation of a model farm for the production of organic and conventional local products" of the Florina Association of Agricultural Co-operatives seems also to be following these principles.

The elaboration of certain social and economic research projects should be considered as a positive development. As an example, we mention a number of studies, which are pioneering for Greek natural areas. Some were carried out by the Biology Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and directly or indirectly refer to the Prespa area (Daoutopoulos and Pyrovetsi 1990, Pyrovetsi and Daoutopoulos 1989, 1991, 1997) and another one analyses the irrigation network (Psychoudakis et al 1995). The study to be carried out on crop pattern change is also a positive action.

Knowledge of the area’s hydrology is incomplete (e.g. the precise water balance of Mikri Prespa is still unknown). The relevant projects that are in the process of implementation, will add somewhat to existing knowledge but a lot of work remains to be done in order to comprehend the wetland’s hydrological functions. The rehabilitation-restoration of wetland systems requires first of all the rehabilitation-restoration of functions that depend mainly on hydrology. This principle has started to be applied by the Prefecture of Florina through the support of the relevant studies.

The fact that no management plan or body have yet been officially instituted for the National Park, constitutes, according to many Greek scientists, a large obstacle to the protection of nature. We do not fully share this view because experience in Greece has shown that officially approved plans and appointed management bodies might be helpful but are not a panacea. In the specific case, measures have been taken and are being taken (even though far from ideal) and it is not because of the lack of an official plan that no further measures are taken. There is a strong body (the Florina forestry service) that would have taken many more actions if it had more personnel and other means. We believe that a complicated management body, such as the ones visualised by certain scientists in the past, would perhaps cause more administrative problems than the ones they would solve. A more realistic solution would be to set up a special forestry service for the National Park, in whose decision-making the local inhabitants would participate.

It may not be superfluous to repeat our view that plans, delineations, laws, regulations and advanced organisational structures seem nice on paper, enhance knowledge and creative thinking and of course are helpful. However, their value would not be greater than the value of the ink used for writing them if previously the inhabitants had not been informed and made aware, in order not only to approve their implementation but also to co-operate actively. From 1991 until today, progress has been observed in the attitude of inhabitants towards the sustainable development of natural and agricultural ecosystems and their participation in positive actions. Progress is expected to be even greater after the completion of various actions foreseen by the project "Integrated programme for the protection and promotion of the Prespes ecosystem".

II 2. Proposed monitoring and assessment procedures

II 3. Extent to which the ecological character, benefits and values of the site have been restored or maintained

II 4. Rationale for removing the site from the Montreux Record

The ecological, economic and social conditions prevailing in 1998 in the greater Prespa area can be understood more fully by referring to important events of its history since the Second World War. This period can be divided into the following periods:

1940-1949

Second World War followed by foreign occupation and the civil war. The inhabitants suffered a lot. Many moved to Greek urban centres and abroad to seek refuge from battles. Primitive use of natural resources, but minimal adverse effects on the natural environment because the input of subsidiary energy in the agricultural, range and other ecosystems was low. Lack of mechanisation and irrigation network.

Very low standard of living and lack of basic education, communication and health services. In general, miserable living conditions in comparison to other agricultural areas of the country.

A high percentage of the area covered today by the irrigation network was covered by natural vegetation.

1950-1961

A period without battles but characterised by very severe defence measures. The area, like all frontier areas, was under military control and the entry of visitors was regulated. Return of many refugees and slow population increase that never reached before war levels. Improvement in social services was slow and limited. Primitive methods of exploitation of natural resources gradually started being replaced, with the help of government subsidies, by modern ones e.g. beginning of mechanisation of farming, shortening of land fallow period through the use of chemical fertilisers. The number of grazing animals increased and fishing was intensified. The biodiversity of the wetland and the agricultural economy started to be documented by visiting scientists.

The inhabitants are relieved of malaria thanks to DDT the side effects of which were not known yet.

Living standards were much lower than in other rural areas of Greece such as the plains of Thessaloniki and Serres where the adoption of new technologies and the implementation of development projects were more intensive and wider. The most serious obstacle to the economic development of the area was perhaps the inability to use irrigation water.

It should be strongly stressed that the first thing the Greek State attended to (in fact the entire Greek society) during this period was the poverty stricken, diminished through wars casualties and diseases, population, by employing all methods considered as exemplary at an international level. This fact sufficed to place low priorities on many of the wetland values with no direct economic usefulness. Many of these values were not even known at the time. Even the terms ecosystem, wetland and wetland functions/ values were unknown. It was not therefore a paradox that the State allowed and even subsidised the extermination of any non-game species of wild animal that was suspected to cause damage to farmers or fishermen.

Therefore, the fact that Mikri Prespa, until the beginning of the 1960s, was a paradise for wild life was due (a) to inaccessibility (b) to military security rules and (c) to the lack of subsidiary energy inputs in the ecosystems apart from the human labour in the fields and the animals used for transportation and cultivation of the land.

1962-1974

This period was the most crucial in the history of the area’s natural environment because of two series of events.

The first one is composed of the following: (a) the inflow into the ecosystems of plentiful subsidiary energy e.g. chemical fertilisers, improved animal and plant genotypes, modern agrochemicals, use of machines (in agriculture, forestry, fishing), irrigation water. (b) better access (opening and paving of roads, increase in the number of cars). (c) the operation of a cannery for the processing of fish and vegetables and the operation of a quarry. (d) the construction of buildings for schools, public services, storage of products etc. The project that radically changed the landscape and the economy of the area was the irrigation network that was constructed in the lower zone east of the wetland. This network facilitated the inflow of the aforementioned forms of subsidiary energy and increased drastically the income of many inhabitants.

The second series of events consists of the increase in the number of ecological studies and the identification of the area’s biodiversity, mostly that of the avifauna. Most important was the declaration of the area as a National Park in 1974.

The most important characteristic of this period was that the projects and actions in favour of Man were planned without consideration for Nature. For example, natural vegetation from valuable wetland areas (later proved to be unsuitable for cultivation) was cleared, roads were constructed without protecting slopes from erosion, the cultivation of plants, animal rearing, fishing and hunting were carried out as if no natural ecosystems of unique importance were at close proximity. The cannery was built very close to the wetland and without making sure that an efficient treatment system for its effluents was put into operation etc.

On the other hand, projects and actions in favour of Nature did not always considered Man’s needs. Some of the wildlife specialists and nature lovers expressed their concern publicly but only for matters concerning the breeding and feeding of birds. They said little about demographic decline and poverty. Unfortunately, the inhabitants were informed of the views of this small group of well-meaning scientists and nature lovers and this coincided with the sudden declaration of the area as a National Park. Naturally, the inhabitants believed that these views would be adopted by the State so they began to be opposed to the various conservation projects and measures, despite the fact that they were, and still are, proud about the natural splendour of their homeland.

1975-1981

This period is characterised by even greater care for the inhabitants on behalf of the State and the intensification of the interest of researchers and nature lovers in the natural environment of the area. The legal framework for the protection of nature, enforced through the inclusion of Lake Mikri Prespa on the List of Wetlands of International Importance, caused the intensification of the negative attitude of many inhabitants towards certain proposals in favour of nature protection. Most inhabitants were already convinced that they would be asked to pay the price of environmental protection measures and that others decided for them in their absence.

During this period, the first adverse effects of conventional views on economic development started to appear both on the natural ecosystems (e.g. loss of habitats, loss of biodiversity) and the landscape and agricultural ecosystems (e.g. monoculture, difficulties in crop protection, marketing problems). The cannery closed down because there was insufficient raw material. Despite the fact that the competent civil service had boasted that "in the place of shrubs and swamps" (that is "wetland equals to wasteland" according to the old Greek, but also international view) "we now created an irrigated plain that thrives with life", the problems of this irrigated plain increased and spread. At a later date, specialists pointed out errors in the design of the irrigation network and the adverse consequences of those errors both on natural and agricultural ecosystems.

During this period, the first views of ecologists on the causes of biodiversity problems in the area are expressed. Non point-source pollution was considered as the main culprit for the eutrophication of the lake but this was not sufficiently documented, even by simulation.

1982-1990

During this period, the Prespa area became even more popular at a national, European and international level for its biodiversity and landscape values and for its conservation problems and economic and social development issues. Following a proposal from the Greek State, the European Commission approved substantial funds for the co-financing of projects in the area, either aimed at economic development or the protection of nature. Some of the economic development projects appear to be reasonable and compatible with the preservation of nature (e.g. packaging unit for beans, development of agro-tourism, waste management, improvement of existing irrigation network). For other projects, scientists and NGOs have expressed serious objections versus their compatibility, their usefulness or the method of implementation (e.g. extension of irrigation network in the upper zone without adequate technical-economic study, cereal drying installation, construction of a fish breeding station in a rare wetland ecosystem). In 1982, General Directorate XI of the European Commission, as an answer to the concern of Greek and international NGOs, assigned the preparation of an integrated environmental study of the Prespa National Park to an interdisciplinary group (University of Thessaloniki and Tour du Valat). The study group comprised of the following: Myrto D. Pyrovetsi (project co-ordinator), A. Crivelli, P.A. Gerakis, M. Karteris, G. Kastro and N. Komninos. This is probably the first study in Greece to adopt a joint consideration of the sustainability of natural and man-made ecosystems, the promotion of positive interactions between the two types of ecosystem and the integration of nature protection and the satisfaction of people’s economic and social needs. The study was accepted with suspicion by certain responsible services and by nearly all local residents. This does in no way constitute a reproach for civil servants and the residents, since the former were applying a development policy that had not yet begun to integrate the environmental dimension, whereas the latter, concerned about their economic survival, did not have the technical knowledge nor the time to understand concepts that were new even to many scientists. Besides, they were already suspicious, rightly or wrongly is not important, of the "real intentions of ecologists".

The proposals of the Pyrovetsi et al (1984) study were ignored and the projects were carried out as originally planned. However, the packaging unit, the cereal drying installation and the fish breeding station were not put into operation. The irrigation network was extended and improved somewhat but during excavations no attention was given to the reduction of damage to avifauna. Another large scientific group co-ordinated by M. Bonazoundas (1988) continued part of the Pyrovetsi study concerning non point-source agricultural pollution. For the first time in Greece, Bonazoundas adopted modern approaches to the issue (e.g. simulation of pollution processes). This study was also ignored. Other studies documenting the area’s natural ecosystems were undertaken. Most important was the one produced by the Katsadorakis group (1988).

The opposition of the majority of the local people to any type of intervention that could entail restrictions or even harmless regulations for production and housing activities increased. In 1987, the World Wide Fund for Nature, in co-operation with the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage and other agencies organised an open two-day meeting with the inhabitants. Many local people attended the meeting but they were not convinced by the arguments of the ecologists. Their position may be summarised as follows: "You only remember us because of the birds. None of you care about our problems. You present many inaccuracies about the way we practice agriculture and animal farming. We love nature, we protect it ourselves but we do not agree with anything that would lead to more restrictions than in other rural parts of Greece".

In 1989, on its own initiative and with its own funds, the World Wide Fund for Nature set up an interdisciplinary group co-ordinated by the ever-memorable G.E.Hollis. This group, with the approval and supervision of an inter-ministerial group represented by K. Kasioumis, drafted a preliminary management plan for the National Park. The preliminary plan was based to a large extent on the previous studies of Pyrovetsi, Bonazoundas, Katsadorakis etc. The inter-ministerial committee improved the plan, adapted it to Greek legislation and practice and presented it to the inhabitants’ representatives for discussion. The inhabitants did not accept it protesting that they had not been addressed previously (which was true). They stated that they would not allow the institution of any management plan that did not have their full approval. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the management of the National Park, as in the past, is exercised by the Forestry Service of the Prefecture of Florina. There is no instituted plan but the Forestry Service follows as much as possible the principles and the philosophy of the Kasioumis plan.

In 1990, a group of scientists from the School of Agriculture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (experts in ecology, crop production and crop protection) undertook the implementation of a small research/demostration project in view of helping the Prespa farmers to solve crop farming problems.

The project was a success but unfortunately it had no follow up due to lack of funds. The philosophy of the project was "primarily to assist inhabitants in solving their subsistence problems and secondly to inform them about the need to protect nature". The inhabitants had accepted the presence of the scientists and many admitted the practical benefits reaped.

1991-1998

An environmental NGO, named Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP), was created at the initiative of the World Wide Fund for Nature that also provided most of the funding. This Society consists of Greek and foreign environmental organisations and two scientific institutions. The SPP did not ask representatives of the inhabitants to participate. However, it employed inhabitants who participated in its activities. When the SPP was first set up, it gave much greater priority to Nature rather than to Man.

During the first years of operation, the SPP was confronted with strong opposition from part of the local inhabitants for the aforementioned reasons. Gradually, however, more and more locals changed their attitude from negative to tolerant, or even friendly. Fruitful co-operation between the SPP and the inhabitants was achieved.

Today, government services give greater attention to the problems of the natural environment of Prespa than in previous periods (see I.11). An example is the Specific Environmental Study for the Prespa area (virtually a management plan). The attitude of the inhabitants towards this study cannot be evaluated easily. However, it does not seem to be negative as in the past, in the case of the Pyrovetsi and Kasioumis studies.

During this period, certain harmful interventions in the natural environment and the landscape of the greater area were noted. The most painful incident perhaps was vandalism in the form of damage of nests of aquatic birds. It should be noted, however, that the inhabitants did not approve this incident. The landscape of the terrestrial part of the Park has suffered alteration to a certain extent by certain badly positioned and designed buildings.

Conclusions

It is generally acceptable that, when inhabitants who live near a wetland are determined to protect it, no human force can destroy it. Some examples are the sources of Aravisos in the Prefecture of Pella and the Stavronikitas marsh (or Kassandra prisons or N. Fokea) in Halkidiki. The opposite is also true. That is, when local people are not interested in their wetland or wish to alter it, in order to achieve real (or fictitious) short-term benefits, it is very difficult for the government of a democratic country to be able to enforce continuous and effective protection. The protection of biotic and abiotic wetland resources that are valuable for the local economy cannot be safeguarded by police measures but only with the consent of the local population. Naturally, consent is not obtained solely by demonstrating the importance of flora and fauna. Specific assistance for the improvement of the living conditions of inhabitants is more helpful.

The above historical flashback, although necessarily brief, reveals the errors made both by nature lovers and those responsible for the economic development of the area. No other natural area in Greece has perhaps been given so much attention by ecologists, environmental NGOs and government services. However, past errors in tactics and psychology brought about an attitude that varied from simple reservation to open refusal. Even the government services responsible for the natural environment had not shown the necessary patience and persistence during their contacts with the inhabitants. On the other hand, those responsible for the economic development of the area committed series of errors in the planning and implementation of projects despite the fact that the Greek State looked after the Prespa area more than any other highland areas with access difficulties. These errors did not help to obtain consent from local inhabitants.

The recent gradual change in the attitude of the Prespa population in favour of conservation measures which is observed today thanks to government projects, despite past errors, is one of the most important arguments in favour of the removal of the site from the Montreux Record. Very few inhabitants know that their homeland is "black listed" by "strange ecologists". The notification of a possible decision to remain on the "Black List" would bring about disappointment that would perhaps lead to regression.

We believe that the escalating problems in crop and animal farming are of great importance to the future of nature conservation in the Prespa area. At any cost the farming and fishing character of the area should be maintained and issues related to sustainable production practices should be approached with realism. The area is threatened by further demographic decline that can only cause damage to the natural environment.

The management plans for the natural ecosystems, precise delineations, a reinforced legal status, comply forms of management bodies and public awareness campaigns are all useful but they are not substitutes for the presence of a consenting population that has lived in the area for at least 4000 years.

Proposal

The committee notes that:

  1. The Mikri Prespa wetland has difficulties in preserving its structural and functional characteristics, due to a series of errors made especially in the past but also more recently. These errors contributed to the failure to obtain consent from the local population as regards measures in favour of nature conservation.
  1. During the past years, central government services, local authorities and non-governmental bodies have taken many positive actions which, although they have not managed fully to counterbalance the forces of negative change, give rise to a certain optimism.
  1. In our view, the most important and hopeful positive development observed today is the gradual change in the attitude of the local population. Inhabitants are more positive towards many protection measures for natural ecosystems and the sustainable management of agro-ecosystems. The development of ecotourism during the last years assists protection because the inhabitants realise the need to preserve biodiversity and naturalness that attract a large number of visitors.
  1. At local and Prefecture level, the inclusion of Mikri Prespa in the Montreux Record has had absolutely no effect on the promotion of nature protection. Neither did it stop harmful interventions. On the contrary, it is most probable that the removal of Mikri Prespa from the list and notification of such a resolution will contribute to a certain extent to further improvement of the favourable attitude of the local population.

The committee proposes, with no reservation, that Mikri Prespa be removed from the Montreux Record.

If this proposal is accepted, the committee is of the opinion that the respective resolution should be worded very carefully. On the one hand, it should explain the progress that has been achieved. On the other hand, the problems and chances for rehabilitation of wetland functions and values should be set forth in their correct dimension.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

(The following sources are interesting but we do not believe that they are necessarily the most important. Some are not mentioned in the report despite the fact that they were taken into account).

Adamus, P.R., E.J. Clairain, Jr., R.D. Smith, and R.E. Young. 1987. Wetland evaluation technique (WET). US Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Highway Administration. Washington DC. 206 p.

Anagnostopoulou, Maria (editor). 1996 Monitoring Guide for sites of the «NATURA 2000» Network. Goulandris Natural History Museum – Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. Thermi. 163 pp.

Bonazoundas, Ì. (project co-ordinator). 1988. Environmental impact of the under construction irrigation network on Lake Mikri Prespa - Prefecture of Florina. Phase One: Preliminary evaluation of the impact of the network, Polytechnic and Agricultural Universities of Athens. (In Greek)

Bonazoundas, Ì., D. Kallidromitou, and D. Karakatsoulis. 1987. Environmental impact of irrigation network of Lake Mikri Prespa: Preliminary assessment. Ministry of National Economy, Environmental Policy and Development DEK.

Catsadorakis G. and M. Scoullos. Prespa National Park - A guide for visitors. Hellenic Society.

Catsadorakis G. 1988. Prespa National Park, Prefecture of Florina. Data for setting the boundaries of protected zones (according to Community Directive 409/1979). The Friends of Prespa. Athens. 61 pp.+ maps. (In Greek)

Catsadorakis, G.1990. Bio-communities of passerine birds in Prespa (Florina, Western Macedonia). Doctoral thesis. Department of Biology, University of Athens 238 pp. (In Greek)

Catsadorakis, G. 1991. Bird species that have become extinct and others threatened with extinction from Prespa National Park. Nature (Bull. of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature) 55:21-25.

Catsadorakis, G. 1995. Texts of the Prespa Information Centre. SPP. Agios Germanos. 125 pp. (In Greek)

Catsadorakis, G. 1996. Prespa, a story about Nature and Man, WWF, SPP. National Bank of Greece. 196 pp. (In Greek)

Catsadorakis G., Ì. Malakou and A.J. Crivelli. 1996. Barbus prespensis, Karaman 1924, in the Prespa basin, Northwestern Greece. Publication of Ôour du Valat. Arles. 79 pp.

Chatzilakou, Dionisia, 1992. Study of the reproductive biology of the White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus L., 1758) in lake Mikri Prespa. Doctoral thesis. Department of Biology, University of Athens. 213 pp. (In Greek)

Daoutopoulos, G.A. and M.D. Pyrovetsi. 1990, Comparison of conservation attitudes among fishermen in three protected lakes in Greece. Journal of Environmental Management 31:83-92.

Dimalexis, Á. (in progress). The ecology of herons in Prespes and Kerkini (provisional title). Doctoral thesis, Department of Biology, University of Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Economidis, P.S. 1991. Check list of freshwater fishes of Greece. Recent status of threats and protection. Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature. Athens.

Gerakis, A. and K.Kalburtji. 1998. Agricultural activities affecting the functions and values of Ramsar wetland sites. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment 70:119-128.

Gerakis, A., K.Kalburji, and S.Tsiouris. 1998. The role of organic farming in the sustainable development of watershed resources of Greece. p.639-644. In: Sustainable agriculture for food, energy and industry. Proceedings of an International Conference held in Braunschweig, Germany in 22-28 June 1997 organised by FAO, Indian Society for Sustainable Agriculture and Resource Management, and the Federal Agricultural Research Centre of Germany. James and James (Science Publishers) Ltd.

Grimmet, R.F.A. and T.A. Jones (compilers).1989. Important Bird Areas in Europe. International Council of Bird Preservation (ICBP), Technical Publication No 9.

Hatzilakou, D. 1993. The distribution of the globally endangered Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus Bruch.) in Greece. Threats pertaining to its habitats and recommendations for protection. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 219 pp.

Hellenic Ornithological Society. 1994. Important Bird Areas of Greece – Acquaintance with the important biotopes of Greece. Special publication. Athens. 272 pp. (In Greek)

Hellenic Ornithological Society. 1997. Revision of Important Areas for the Birds of Greece. (SPPE 1997). Athens. (In Greek)

Hollis, G.E. 1989. Five research studies on Prespa National Park. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland. 108 p.

Hollis, G.E. 1990 Management plan for Prespa National Park. Third draft. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland.

Karteris, M.A. and M.Pyrovetsi. 1986. Land cover/use analysis of Prespa National Park. Greece. Environmental Conservation. 13: 319-330.

Kasioumis, Ê. 1991. Management Study for the Prespa National Park. General Secretariat for Forests and Natural Environment. (In Greek)

Kosmas, K., N. Moustakas, V. Tsatiris, and N. Danalatos. 1990. Evaluation of soil resources of the Prespa region, Greece. Agricultural University of Athens. Final Report to CEC, DG.XI. 145p. + maps

Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works. 1998. Information sheet on Lake Mikri Prespa. Athens. 8 p.

Psychoudakis, A.G., S. Psychoudaki-Papoutsi, and A.M.M. McFarquhar. 1995. An economic assessment of an irrigation project affecting a Greek wetland. Wetlands Ecology and Management 3:225-232.

Pyrovetsi, M.D. 1984. Ecodevelopment in Prespa National Park, Greece. Ph.D. dissertation. Michigan State University. East Lansing, Michigan USA.

Pyrovetsi, M.D. (project manager). 1990. Conservation and management of the biotopes of the Dalmatian Pelican. Pelecanus crispus, in Northern Greece. Report prepared for the CEC (DG XI) Thessaloniki.

Pyrovetsi, M.D. & A.J. Crivelli. 1988. Habitat use by waterbirds in Prespa National Park, Greece. Biological Conservation 45: 135-153.

Pyrovetsi, M.D. (project manager), A.J. Crivelli, P.A. Gerakis, M.A. Karteris, E.P. Kastro, and N. Komninos. 1984. Integrated environmental study of Prespa National Park, Greece. Commission of the European Communities DG XI E(83) 1935/17-PMI/183/83 GR. Thessaloniki, Greece.

Pyrovetsi, M.D. and G.Daoutopoulos. 1989. Conservation related attitudes of lake fishermen in Greece, Environmental Conservation 16:245-258.

Pyrovetsi, M.D. and G.Daoutopoulos. 1991. Educational response to differences in environmental attitudes among lake fishermen. Landscape and Urban Planning 20:167-172.

Pyrovetsi, M.D. and G.Daoutopoulos. 1997. Contrast in conservation attitudes and agricultural practices between farmers operating in wetlands and a plain in Macedonia, Greece. Environmental Conservation 24: 76-82

Pyrovetsi, M.D. and P.A.Gerakis. 1987. Environmental problems from practicing agriculture in Prespa National Park, Greece, The Environmentalist 7: 35-42.

Pyrovetsi, M. and M. Karteris. 1986. Forty-year land cover/use changes in Prespa National Park, Greece. Journal of Environmental Management 23: 173-183

Sakoulis Á. and Å. Bourdakis. 1998. Evaluation of population trends of avifauna in Greek Ramsar wetlands (a first approach). Hellenic Ornithological Society, Athens. (In Greek)

Scoullos, M. and G. Katsadorakis. 1987. Prespa National Park - Significance - Management - Conservation. Hellenic Society.

Scoullos, M and J. Hatjianestis. 1989. Dissolved and particulate trace metals in a wetland of international importance: Lake Mikri Prespa, Greece. Water air soil pollution 44: 307-320.

Scoullos, M and J. Hatjianestis. 1990. Trace metals in sediment cores of Mikri Prespa. Water pollution research report 20: 129-146.

Tryfon, Eleni. 1994. Structure and dynamics of phytoplankton populations in lake Mikri Prespa. Doctoral thesis. Department of Biology, University of Thessaloniki. 61 pp. + 10 maps. (In Greek)

Veresoglou, D., P.A. Gerakis, Ç. Elephtherohorinos, Kiriaki Kalbourji, Í. Barbayiannis and S.Å. Tsiouris. 1992. Techniques for the protection of wetlands form agricultural activities. School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 104 pp. (In Greek)

Western Macedonia Development Agency (ÁÍÊÏ) Á.Å. 1995. Prespa Area Development Study. Florina. 4 vol. (In Greek)

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece). 1998. Comments on the Ramsar Information Sheets (RISs) for Greek Ramsar wetlands. (unpublished report).

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece), Hellenic Ornithological Society, SPP. 1998. National Action Plan for the protection of the Pygmy Cormorant in Greece. (First approach. Lakes Mikri and Megali Prespa, pp. 139-155). (LIFE project «Protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece» (Contract number Â4-3200/96/499)). (In Greek)


ANNEX IV – 2

COMPLETED QUESTIONNAIRE FOR ARTIFICIAL LAKE KERKINI

MONTREUX RECORD

Section One: Information for assessing possible inclusion of a listed site in the Montreux Record

Essential items

I 1 Name of site: Artificial Lake Kerkini

I 2. Ramsar Criteria for listing the site as internationally important:

1a| 2a 2b 2c 2d| 3a 3b 3c| 4a 4b

All these criteria are still valid. There has been expressed a view that the criterion 1d is also valid.

I 3. Nature of the change in ecological character/ potential for adverse change

  1. Decrease in the reedbed surface area
  2. Fluctuation in the area occupied by the numphaeids
  3. Decrease in the surface area covered by the riparian forest
  4. Change in the composition of the fish fauna
  5. Changes in the populations and composition of the avifauna

I 4. Reasons for adverse change, or potential adverse change, in ecological character

(reference is made to the corresponding numbering of question I 3)

Artificial Lake Kerkini was created in 1932, in an area with pre-existing wetland systems, primarily for flood control. Subsequently, the irrigation value also developed. The technical works carried out in order to ensure the aforementioned objectives affected the wetland. Although no large or medium scale technical project has been carried out since 1990, the changes in the ecological character continue to be due mainly to projects implemented during the previous decades, inferring changes in water management. At the same time, information and awareness activities addressing the services responsible for the management of the area, brought about a positive result, in the sense that the protection of the biological value of Lake Kerkini started to be considered jointly with the protection of the other values.

a) The presence of reedbeds in Lake Kerkini constitutes a positive element. Reedbeds are necessary to a certain extent for the reproduction of certain species of avifauna. Until 1983, there were extensive areas of reedbeds in the lake. The new hydrological situation resulted in the flooding of these areas and the reedbeds practically disappeared from the main part of the lake. Today, there is a narrow strip along the northern shoreline and small patches in the southwestern part of the lake. There has been no other change since 1990.

b) Under the old hydrological regime and in the northwestern part of the lake, there were some nymphaeids (Nymphaea alba) among the reedbeds. The nymphaeids were favoured by the new conditions and started to spread, reaching about 300 hectares in 1990. After 1991, the area covered by nymphaeids started to decrease and dropped to 48 hectares in 1996 (even less in 1998). This reduction is due mainly to the rise, by half a meter, of the lake’s maximum water level in 1991 (from around 35.50 m to about 36.00 m). Similar to that was the fate of other aquatic macrophytes such as Polygonum amphibium that covered large areas in the centre of the lake.

c) The riparian forest occupies the northern-central part of the lake and now consists mainly of species of wild willow. Each year it is flooded by water and this results in its continuous shrinkage since 1983, as there is no natural regeneration to replace trees that die out due to protracted inundation. Illegal felling (for firewood) by the inhabitants of nearby communities has been another reason for the shrinkage of the forest. During the last years, this activity has greatly diminished, particularly due to public awareness and better wardening by the Forestry Service. Furthermore, there is pressure from grazing animals due to the decrease in grazing areas, especially during spring (due to flooding). This pressure may be confronted by specific wardening measures. At the same time, the presence of water buffaloes must be stressed. The largest population in Greece of this rare (for Greece) farm animal is found here. The population continues to be significant (more than 500 animals) although no economic assistance has been provided for its preservation. The presence of the buffalo contributes to the non-intensification of other animal farming, the increase in the recreational and other values.

d) The operation of the new dam and the parallel works (diversion and embankment of the river bed) brought about changes in the composition of the fish fauna. The eel disappeared from the lake a few years after the operation of the new dam because it could no longer pass the new higher dam. The disappearance of predatory fish (Pike, European Catfish, Perch) that occurred partly due to overfishing, river diversion (spawning grounds were lost) and the exclusion of the eel from the lake (which means that there were no other predators for the fish apart from the fish-eating birds), favoured the species of low market value such as Sardine, European Goldfish, Sunfish and Roach. These species were also favoured by the spread of nymphaeids at the northwestern end of the lake and of the other aquatic macrophytes in the old riverbed. Those areas were spawning sites and sanctuaries for fry. These changes favoured the increase in the number of the fish-eating birds (see also below).

During the recent years, a reduction in the Carp population, the most important commercial species, is observed. Data provided by the Department of Fisheries of the Prefecture of Serres, show that in general the lake does not suffer overfishing. Nevertheless, some incidents of illegal fishing have been observed. In the recent years, the stabilisation of the lake’s water level and the improvement of hydrobiological conditions have resulted in the disappearance of the causes that led to the loss of the aforementioned species. However, wiser fisheries management is required. Moreover, it should be pointed out that since 1990 the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and especially the Department of Fisheries of the Prefecture of Serres have made numerous efforts to inform fishermen and increase their environmental awareness. These efforts have had positive results on the management practices used in the lake.

e) One may distinguish five groups of breeding birds according to their response to the hydrological changes in the area.

The first group includes species that did not nest before 1982 and started to nest during the 1982-1991 period. Such species are: Phalacrocorax carbo, Larus ridibundus, Larus cachinans, Egretta alba. The second group includes species that nested prior to 1982 and whose numbers have increased during the 1982-1991 period. Such species are: Egretta garzetta, Nycticorax nycticorax, Ardea cinerea, Phalacrocorax pygmaeus, Podiceps cristatus, Tachybaptus ruficollis, Chlidonias niger and Chlidonias hybrida (on the nymphaeids). The third group includes species that nested prior to 1982 and whose numbers have decreased during the 1982-1991 period. Such species are: Ardeolla ralloides, Plegadis falcinellus, Ardea purpurea, Anser anser. The fourth group includes species that cannot be placed in any of the above groups because there was no clear trend, either increasing or decreasing. Such species are: Platalea leucorodia, Sterna hirundo, Ixobrychus minutus. Finally, the fifth group includes species that stopped nesting in the area immediately after the change in the hydrological regime. Such species are: Locustella luscinioides, Circus aeruginosus (they nested in the reedbeds), Glareola pratincola, Himantopus himantopus (they nested in the wet meadows). One problem that persists is the inundation, during spring of certain nests of species nesting in the trees of the riparian forest.

It can be concluded that the new hydrological regime favoured fish-eating species of birds and especially divers (Cormorants, greebes) that prefer deep waters and were directly favoured by the increase in the biomass of certain species of fish. The extinction of species that nest in wet meadows and reedbeds complements the response of nesting species to the changes that took place in Kerkini. The period from 1982 to 1988 was sufficiently long for most species to adapt to the new situation and to stabilise their populations at new levels. From 1988 until 1991, the populations of breeding species became stable.

After 1991, the populations of nesting species increased and reached new levels. They became stable during the past years (1995-1998) with the exception of two species of terns that nest among the nymphaeids whose populations (since 1995) follow the reduction in the nuphar area.

The bird colonies of Lake Kerkini are among the most important in Europe because they host 10 different species of birds that nest together in great numbers. Some of these species are rare (Pygmy Cormorant, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Night Heron, etc). The future of these colonies depends exclusively on the existence of suitable nesting sites in the riparian forest.

Continuous population and species richness monitoring shows that the numbers of breeding fish-eating bird species have increased. The populations of species that nest on islets and in reedbeds have decreased. The species that nest in the trees of the shoreline zone (herons, Spoonbills, Pygmy Cormorants etc.) have had stable populations during the past years. The populations of wintering waterfowl have also remained stable. The main exceptions to this fact, are the decrease in the species of dabbling ducks (Anas sp.) and the increase in pochards (Aythya sp.). Furthermore, during the past years, new species for the area have been observed, especially during migration and in the wintering period. Examples are the White-headed Duck, Saker Falcon, Bewick's Swan, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Goosander, Greater Flamingo etc. We repeat that these changes are due to a rise in the water level during the past decades and that no important problems due to human activities nave been noted.

Additional items which may be included

I 5. Data Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands submitted

See Sheet submitted by the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works on 1.6.1998

I 6. Date and source of Information Sheet updates

See Sheet submitted by the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works on 1.6.1998

I 7. Benefits and values derived from the site

We repeat that Lake Kerkini was created initially for flood control reasons and subsequently for the storage of irrigation water. Here is a brief evaluation of its values:

Drinking water supply: Possibility has not been studied.

Irrigation: Very high. Large areas are irrigated using the water stored in the lake (about 60000 ha are irrigated directly or indirectly from the lake and river Strymon).

Fishing: Medium in general and very important for the local economy. Fish catches during the 1987-1991 five-year period reached 140-400 tons whereas during the 1992-1996 five-year period they were limited to 60-150 tons. It is believed that the total fish biomass produced exceeds 1000-1500 tons per year. Rational fisheries management, according to current fisheries legislation could increase production to over 500 tons yearly, without biological disturbance (Tatarakis 1995).

Animal farming: The area provides grazing grounds for cattle, goats and sheep. Its value as a grazing area is high or medium in different locations. It is particularly high for the preservation of the water buffalo population. Some animals were selected from this population for reintroduction in the Prespa area, with the willing help of the farmer.

Hunting: Hunting is prohibited in the wetland area. The greater area however, has a high hunting value especially in the northern part and the surrounding highland areas.

Wood and fibre production: Felling is prohibited in the riparian forest. Medium value in the neighbouring forests, where felling is controlled by 5-year and 10-year management plans. Furthermore, there are poplar plantations in the area that produce a high yield due to the improved species grown. The reduction of funds provided by the EE might limit further development of poplar plantations.

Sand extraction: Difficult to evaluate. There are possibilities and specific proposals for sand extraction. Medium to high value in river Strymon, before its entry into the lake, where there is an installation for the commercial exploitation of sand.

Scientific: Many research projects and studies have been carried out (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre, etc.) in the past and some are still under way (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Tour du Valat, WWF, Hell. Orn. Soc. etc). Furthermore, many researchers visit the area every year in order to collect specific data, or because they consider Kerkini as a characteristic example of a wetland whose study will contribute to the promotion of research in other wetland areas of the world (Very close to criteria 1d for representative wetlands).

Educational: High and is increasing every year (as proved by the increase in the number of people visiting the wetland, the establishment and the operation of the Information Centre and environmental education programmes carried out by schools). At the same time, the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works and the Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre (EKBY) produced an educational package for Lake Kerkini in the framework of the MedWet initiative (50 packages were distributed free of charge to all the schools in the area and are lent to schools throughout the country).

Cultural: Medium to low (artificial lake). There are few monuments and historical references.

Recreational: Medium for the time being. The presence of visitors especially in spring and summer shows that recreational value is increasing every year. There are prospects for leisure activities throughout the year. Apart from the Information Centre, two other groups deal with eco-tourism in the area (the Community Agro-/eco-tourism Enterprise of Vironia- Serres and Ecoperiigitis). For the moment, they cause no problems to avifauna and other wetland features.

Flood control: Very high. The waters of river Strymon are retained and the Serres plain is protected from flooding.

Improvement of water quality: High (A. Gerakis & Kalburtji 1998)

Topoclimatic: High. Extreme phenomena are attenuated, especially in spring and summer.

Biological: High. Large number of species and populations of avifauna (more than 300 species), about 30 species of fish, important types of habitat etc. (see bibliography).

I 8. Extent to which values and benefits derived from the site have decreased or changed

In comparison with the previous decade, we believe that during the 1990-1998 period:

Except for the fishing value that has decreased, the other values tend to become stable or to increase. The application of fisheries management plans can increase fishing value. Current fisheries legislation is particularly satisfactory for the prevention of illegal fishing and any incidents of over-fishing (rather rare).

Sustainable management of Lake Kerkini’s waters is the only way to safeguard all wetland values.

I 9. Monitoring programmes in place at the site (techniques, objectives and nature of data and information gathered)

I International project for the protection of the White Pelican and the Dalmatian Pelican in Europe. Tour du Valat, France (1983-to date)

II Project for the study of the effect of the water regime on the biotopes and avifauna. Tour du Valat, France (1990- to date)

III Mobility of fish in the river Strymon and reproduction ecology of species. Tour du Valat, France (1996-1999)

IV Monitoring of bird populations breeding in the riparian forest. Tour du Valat, France (1990- to date)

V Project for the protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece. Funded by DGXI – LIFE and the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Hellenic Ornithological Society. Project duration: 1997 – 1999.

VI Monitoring of water quality in river Strymon by the Department of Sanitation Hygiene of the Prefecture of Serres (monthly sampling).

  1. A similar project is planned for Lake Kerkini
  2. There is an automatic system for monitoring the flow of Strymon and certain physical and chemical parameters. It is installed at a point directly after the entry of the river into Greece. The Water Section/ Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works manages the system.

The Information Centre (starting in January 1999) is planning the following projects.

  1. Monitoring of populations of aquatic birds throughout the year
  2. Monitoring of stork populations nesting in the wider area
  3. Research on the situation of the Otter population in the area.

I 10. Assessment procedures in place (how is the information obtained from the monitoring programme used).

Regarding the first four projects certain articles have been published in scientific journals and presentations have been made at scientific conferences (Serres, Thessaloniki, Malta).

Currently, information meetings are being organised about the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose protection project, in the areas of implementation.

For the other projects, data is used and evaluated by the competent services with which co-operation is satisfactory.

I 11. Ameliorative and restoration measures in place or planned

  1. Specially Protected Area in accordance with community directive 79/409/EEC.
  2. The area has been qualified as an Important Bird Area for Greece.
  3. Covered by the Berne Convention on the Protection of Wild Life and the Biotopes of Europe.
  4. Covered by the Bonn Convention on the Protection of Migratory species.
  5. The area has been proposed for inclusion in the NATURA 2000 network.
  6. Part of the area has been qualified as a game reserve in which hunting is prohibited. The boundaries of the area were set in co-operation with the forestry service of Sidirokastro, the two hunting clubs in the area and the local scientist of the Information Centre.
  7. Lake Kerkini constituted a test-site within the framework of the MedWet initiative. New approaches were tried and applied by the Ministry for the Environment and EKBY, in the fields of mapping, inventorying, planning of training projects, information and awareness for the local population. Implementation led to the production of scientific papers, communications, and informative publications. These were distributed to the inhabitants and all competent bodies. Generally, these activities created an atmosphere of confidence and co-operation among bodies that are involved in the management of the wetland.
  8. Many articles in the national and local Press and the broadcasting of documentary films about Lake Kerkini contributed to making the public aware of the numerous functions and values of the wetland.
  9. Within the framework of the project concerning the impact of the water regime on the habitats and avifauna (Tour du Valat), experiment areas were used for studying the regeneration possibilities for the natural vegetation of the riparian forest (1996-1997). Within the framework of the project for the protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece, the same experiment was carried out in a larger area, but the same results were obtained (1998). The project will continue during the new period. In both the above cases, the results were very encouraging as to the possibility to rehabilitate parts of the riparian forest through planting. However, it is not possible to draw definite conclusions because of the destruction of fences.
  10. The second stage of the Specific Environmental Study (SES) has been submitted to the Ministry for the Environment (since August 1998). This part of the study contains the final proposal for the boundaries of the different zones, the draft Presidential Decree and the proposal for setting up the site Management Body.
  11. The Ministry for the Environment has built the Information Centre, observation towers and guardhouses (observation towers and guardhouses need repair). A study for their restoration is being carried out at the moment).
  12. On 6/5/97, a Programme Agreement for the Protection and Promotion of the Kerkini wetland area was signed. Signatories were: Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Prefecture of Florina, local communities and the Serres Development Agency S.A. that has undertaken the implementation of the Agreement. In November 1997, the Information Centre was inaugurated. Its main objective is to protect the site from illegal activities and to inform the public and interested bodies about the area.
  13. At the end of November 1998, calls for projects foreseen by the Programme Agreement were published (in accordance with the proposals of the Specific Environmental Study).
  14. The project for the protection of races of farm animals threatened with extinction has begun, in accordance with regulation 2078/92/EEC (in the Lake Kerkini wetland area, it concerns the preservation of water buffalo).
  15. In mid December, an additional contract was signed (six-monthly duration) between the Ministry for the Environment and the agency that has undertaken the implementation of the Specific Environmental Study. The object of the study is to find a solution to the problem of degradation of the riparian forest and the effects that this will have on avifauna.

I 12. List of attachments provided by the Contracting Party.

I 13. List of attachments provided by the Ramsar Bureau

Section Two: Information for assessing possible removal of a listed site from the Montreux Record

II 1. Success of ameliorative, restoration or maintenance measures

  1. The proposals included in the Specific Environmental Study (SES) are very positive and particularly helpful towards changing the attitude of reluctance that had been created in the area because of excessive (in certain cases) prohibitions enforced by the Joint Ministerial Decision.
  2. The prohibitive clause concerning hunting is implemented in general terms. However, there are problems of wardening due to the lack of forestry personnel. This situation is expected to improve with the help of two eco-guides who are foreseen for the area on a permanent basis by virtue of the Programme Agreement, being responsible also for the surveillance of activities. One of the eco-guides has already been employed and the second one is about to be employed.
  3. The same holds for fishing (difficulties in wardening). There is room for improvement and the Fisheries Department of the Prefecture of Serres is working in this direction).
  4. The operation of the Information Centre has already contributed significantly to informing and making aware the public and interested bodies in the area. Co-operation with public services (forestry and environment service of the Prefecture, Division of Supervision and Construction of Works (DEKE), fisheries department, etc.) and the two groups that deal with eco-tourism projects in the area (Community Eco-agro-tourism Enterprise of Vironia/ Serres and Ecoperiigitis). Three issues of the Information Centre’s quarterly bulletin have already been published, as well as a poster and a three-fold brochure as supplement to the publications and the poster printed by the Ministry for the Environment, and the brochures printed by the Ministry for the Environment and EKBY (MedWet publications). These were submitted to the Information Centre. The printing of other publications and posters is planned in the near future.
  5. The lack of instituted specific regulations for the protection of the area and certain activities is tackled by the services through current legislation without any particular problems. The publication of the Presidential Decree in the Government Gazette will definitely help to protect the area given that the majority of the inhabitants have accepted the need to protect the wetland.
  6. Co-operation with Bulgaria has begun for the sustainable management of Lake Kerkini and the hydrological basin of river Strymon. A joint conference has already taken place and a joint Greek-Bulgarian committee has been set up. It should also be stressed that in the part of the hydrological basin of river Strymon that is in Bulgaria, successful works for the conservation of mountain waterways have been carried out. During the current decade, the volume of sediments transported by river Strymon to the lake has dropped to less than 900.000 cubic metres per year, whereas in the previous decades it exceeded 6.000.000 cubic metres per year.

II 2. Proposed monitoring and assessment procedures

Water quality monitoring projects are being carried out by the competent services.

The Information Centre will operate as the main source of information on the wetland area for civil services.

II 3. Extent to which the ecological character, benefits and values of the site have been restored or maintained

Despite the changes that have taken place in the area following the construction of the new dam in 1982, the ecological, scientific and biological value of the area is very high. During the current decade, in particular, no important negative changes have been observed.

The flood control value of the wetland remains very high. Its irrigation value is also high. The reduction in the water storage capacity of the lake due to material carried by river Strymon affects these values. The important reduction in the volume of sediments depositing into the lake, due to the works for conservation of mountain waterways, has not reduced the problem, for which no final decisions have been taken yet. The rate of siltation of the lake has thus fallen, enabling better water management. Further confrontation of the problem of transported sediments will ensure more efficient protection measures. However, some proposals related to this problem, might have adverse consequences if they are not applied carefully.

The recreational value of the wetland is increasing each year. More and more people from Greece and abroad – especially schools - visit the area (a negative point is that the exhibits foreseen for the Information Centre has not been delivered yet and delivery will be delayed probably for a few more months). Full operation of the Information Centre and the employment of specialised personnel is expected to assist in better protection and promotion of Lake Kerkini. This tendency will be reinforced by the completion of the Programme Agreement projects (creation of a forest/ botanical garden and a small Museum of Natural History, nature trails, recreation areas) and by certain projects under implementation (or that have been implemented). These projects are financed through LEADER II, and are being implemented by the Serres Development Enterprise S.A. (the body responsible for the implementation of the Programme Agreement).

The setting up of a preliminary management scheme for the area is expected to contribute to the protection of the wetland and the greater area (during the 6th session of Development Agencies participating in the Operational Programme: "Environment", which took place in Thessaloniki, on 22 November 1998, the Secretary General of the Ministry for the Environment Mr. H. Beriatos informed participants about the management schemes and the programme's timetable. It is hoped that the bill concerning the legal framework that will promote issues of management co-ordination will be submitted to Parliament by the end of 1999).

II 4. Rationale for removing the site from the Montreux Record

  1. The most important value of Lake Kerkini is flood control. This value should be preserved and should be placed on top of all other values because it concerns not only property and economic activities but mainly human lives. Of course, a smaller natural wetland existed before the creation of the reservoir – with little flood control value – but with other important values. However, this issue is beyond the scope of the present report.
  2. The prominence of the flood control value of the wetland is not negotiable. That does not mean, however, that science and technology today has no choice of management methods to maintain the flood control value and at the same time to prevent degradation of other values, as far as this is possible in a rapidly changing system.
  3. Independently of any management scheme, the competent services of the Prefecture of Serres and the Central Macedonia Region are responsible for conservation actions and the management of the wetland. Co-operation with the Information Centre and the Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre is satisfactory. The joint effort for integrated management of Lake Kerkini, with special emphasis on water management, may ensure the protection of the wetland’s character and the preservation of all existing values, up to the level allowed by the physical factors. The current legal framework is satisfactory. The improvements that have been planned are critical and the simultaneous application of conservation measures because of the Lake’s inclusion in other international conventions, will reinforce the protection status of the wetland.
  4. During the 1990-1998 period, no drastic changes have occurred. Moreover, the criteria for qualifying Lake Kerkini as a wetland of international importance have not altered. The fact that Lake Kerkini was listed in the Montreux record was unknown to the inhabitants and the competent government services. Therefore, all positive protection measures planned and applied during this period were not driven by the intention to remove the wetland from the record. On the contrary, they emerge from the faith in the concept of conservation. Most inhabitants and involved bodies are convinced about the need to safeguard the wealth of Kerkini wetland. The same is true for the State and Local Authorities who have expressed practically their political will for protection. Certain adverse interventions in the natural environment and the landscape of the greater area were observed during this period but the general attitude of the population and the services, as regards the protection of the wetland, is positive. Allowed activities are in accordance with the degree of protection in each zone (very strict in the Absolute Protection zone where only scientific research related to the conservation of the area is permitted and relatively few prohibitions and regulations in Eco-development zone B’). International experience has shown that the protection of wetlands depends directly (if not solely) on the attitude of the area’s inhabitants. Integrated and successfully implemented programmes and projects aimed at increasing awareness among inhabitants, users and relevant services, have produced positive results. The creation and operation of the Information Centre for the past two years has also contributed to this and it is expected that it will help even more in the future.
  5. The Prefecture and Local Authorities (local Municipalities and the Community of Promahonas) have shown sincere interest in the protection of the lake. Any unfortunate actions were carried out due to ignorance but they have not caused any irreversible change and there are signs of and room for improvement.
  6. The most important and most promising, in our view, positive development observed today is the gradual change in attitude of the local population. This attitude is becoming more favourable towards protection measures for natural ecosystems and the sustainable development of the wetland. In recent years, the development of ecotourism has assisted protection because the inhabitants have realised the need to preserve nature, which is the item that attracts a large number of visitors. Even private businesses involved in eco-touristic activities are very well informed about the importance of Kerkini and, for the time being, have not caused any problems.
  7. One cannot say that no mistakes were committed in the management of the wetland and its hydrological basin. A most representative example is the delay in confronting the problems of the riparian forest and the search for ways of saving water in areas irrigated by the lake's water. Furthermore, we are not sure whether there is sufficient scientific evidence to prove the comparative importance of the causes that lead to positive or negative changes in the functions and values of the lake. Moreover, we cannot but share the concern of experts as to whether optimal solutions for the preservation of the flood control value of the lake will be chosen and applied.

Proposal

We believe that the clear progress that has been achieved during the current decade is much greater than the delays and the problems and we propose, without reservation, that Lake Kerkini is removed from the Montreux Record. If this proposal is accepted, the committee is of the view that the decision at home should be worded very carefully. On the one hand, it should explain the progress that has been achieved. On the other hand, the problems and chances for rehabilitation of wetland functions and values should be set forth in their correct dimension.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

(The following sources are interesting but we do not believe that they are necessarily the most important. Some are not mentioned in the report despite the fact that they were taken into account).

Anagnostopoulou Maria, G. Zalidis, E.T. Koutrakis, A. Mantzavelas, K. Skordas, Dimitra Spala, Eleni Tryfon, and Eleni Fitoka. 1996. Testing the MedWet approach at Lake Kerkini, Greece. Final Activity Report. MedWet. Greek Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre. Thermi, Greece. 21 p.

Anagnostopoulou, Maria and K. Skordas. 1995. MedWet training sub-project: Application on test site Kerkini, Greece, description of action and applicability of MedWet method for training. EKBY. Thermi, Greece 14 p.

Athanasiou, Chrisoula. 1990. Population, employment and social infrastructure in the Lake Kerkini area. pp 333-346 in P.A. Gerakis (editor). Conservation and Management of Greek Wetlands. Proceedings of a Workshop. Thessaloniki 17-21 April 1989. WWF, Lab. of Ecology - School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, IUCN

Babalonas, D & Eva Papastergiadou. 1989. The water-fern Salvinia natans (L.)All. in the Kerkini Lake. Arch. Hydrobiol.116(4):487-498

Babatzimopoulos, ×. and Â. Andonopoulos. 1989. Hydrological data of Lake Kerkini. pp 259-303 in P.Á. Gerakis (editor). Conservation and Management of Greek Wetlands. Proceedings of a Workshop. Thessaloniki 17-21 April 1989. WWF, Lab. of Ecology - School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, IUCN

Bartzoudis, G. 1993. Improvement of the functioning of Lake Kerkini as an irrigation water reservoir so that it can serve other functions. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre (ÅÊÂÕ). Thermi. 72 pp. (In Greek)

Crivelli, A. J., P Grillas, B Lacaze. 1995. Responses of vegetation to a rise in water level at Kerkini reservoir (1982-1991), a Ramsar Site in Northern Greece, Environmental Management,19: 417-430

Crivelli, A.J., H. Jerrentrup, T. Nazirides and P. Grillas. 1995Effects on fisheries and waterbirds of raising the water levels at the Kerkini reservoir, a Ramsar Site in Northern Greece. Environmental Management. 19: 431-443

Dafis, S. 1995. Biodiversity, its importance and the role of the "NATURA 2000" network for its protection. Conference proceedings "NATURA 2000" WWF, Athens, October 1995. (In Greek)

Georgoudis, Á. 1993. Investigation of the population and production systems of the Buffalo in Greek wetlands. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre and Animal Production Sector, School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 64 pp. (In Greek)

Gerakis, A. and K. Kalburtji. 1998. Agricultural activities affecting the functions and values of Ramsar wetland sites. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment 70:119-128.

Gerakis, P.Á. 1990. Observations on the plant and animal production around Lake Kerkini. pp 347-371 in P.Á. Gerakis (editor). Conservation and Management of Greek Wetlands. Proceedings of a Workshop. Thessaloniki 17-21 April 1989. WWF, Lab. of Ecology - School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, IUCN

Gerakis, P.Á. and Å. Koutrakis. (editors). 1996. The Greek wetlands. Goulandris Natural History Museum – Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. Commercial Bank of Greece. Athens. 382 pp.

Jerrentrup, H. 1990. The fauna of Lake Kerkini. pp. 317-328 in P.Á. Gerakis (editor). Conservation and Management of Greek Wetlands. Proceedings of a Workshop. Thessaloniki 17-21 April 1989. WWF, Lab. of Ecology - School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, IUCN

Kilikides, S. Á. Kamarianos, G. Fotis, X. Karamanlis, Th. Kousouris. 1987. Ecological Study of Lake Kerkini (Prefecture of Serres) in view of improving fish production. Dept of Veterinary, University of Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Kilikides, S., Á. Kamarianos, and X.. Karamanlis. 1987. Investigation concerning the pollution of River Strymon by chlorinated hydrocarbons and fertilisers. Veterinary School, University of Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Klossas, Á. 1975. Contribution to the hydrobiological study of artificial Lake Kerkini. Ministry of Agriculture. (In Greek)

Ministry for the Environment-Physical Planning-Public Works (Environmental Planning Division, Natural Environment Management Section). 1997. Programme for tackling specific environmental problems and system for operating and managing the protected area of Lake Kerkini and its greater area. (In Greek)

Ministry for the Environment-Physical Planning-Public Works. 1986. Programme for the delineation of Ramsar wetlands – Lake Kerkini. (In Greek)

Nazirides Th. 1995. Lake Kerkini. Its biotic wealth. pp. 33-36 in Ê. Skordas and Maria Anagnostopoulou (editors). Sustainable management of the waters of Lake Kerkini. Proceedings of a Training Workshop, Serres, 25-29 September 1995. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre (ÅÊÂÕ), Ministry of Environment and Ministry for Macedonia-Thrace. MedWet publication. (In Greek)

Íazirides, Th. and N. Papageorgiou. The breeding biology of pygmy cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus), a vulnerable bird species, at Lake Kerkini, Northern Greece. Colonial Waterbirds. 19 (Special Publication 1):219-223.Neophitou, ×. 1990. Fish production in Lake Kerkini. pp. 329-331 in P.Á. Gerakis (editor). Conservation and Management of Greek Wetlands. Proceedings of a Workshop. Thessaloniki 17-21 April 1989. WWF, Lab. of Ecology - School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, IUCN

Papanastasis, V. 1990. Natural vegetation in the hydrological basin of Lake Kerkini, pp 311-315 in P.Á. Gerakis (editor). Conservation and Management of Greek Wetlands. Proceedings of a Workshop. Thessaloniki 17-21 April 1989. WWF, Lab. of Ecology - School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, IUCN

Papastergiadou, Eva & D. Babalonas. 1993. Hydrochemical environmental factors and the Aquatic Macrophytic vegetation in stagnant and slow flowing waters. Arch. Hydrobiol./Suppl. 90 (4): 475-491

Papastergiadou, Eva & D. Babalonas. 1992. Ecological studies on Aquatic Macrophytes of a Dam Lake-Lake Kerkini, Greece. Arch. Hydrobiol./Suppl. 90(2): 187-206

Psilovikos Á. and collaborators. 1994. Study-research on the environmental impact of conservation projects at the upper and lower parts of river Strymon, Lake Kerkini and the torrents of the Serres plain. Section of Geology and Physical Geography, University of Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Psilovikos Á. and collaborators. 1992. Research on the siltation problem of Lake Kerkini and the Strymon river bed and proposals for its mitigation. Section of Geology and Physical Geography, University of Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Pyrovetsi, Mirto. 1995. Management problems in Lake Kerkini. pp 109-123 in Ê. Skordas, and Maria Anagnostopoulou (editors). Sustainable management of the waters of Lake Kerkini. Proceedings of a Training Workshop, Serres, 25-29 September 1995. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre (ÅÊÂÕ), Ministry of Environment and Ministry for Macedonia-Thrace. MedWet publication. (In Greek)

Pyrovetsi, Myrto and Eva Papastergiadou. 1992. Biological conservation implications of water level fluctuations in a wetland of international importance: Lake Kerkini, Macedonia, Greece. Environmental Conservation, 19: 235-244.

Pyrovetsi, Myrto. 1990. Conservation and management of the biotopes of the Dalmatian pelicans (Pelecanus crispus) in Northern Greece. Commission of the European Communities (DG XI) and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 145p.

Pyrovetsi, Myrto. 1995. Conservation and management of the biotopes of the Dalmatian pelicans (Pelecanus crispus) in Northern Greece. Commission of the European Communities (DG XI) and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Skordas, Ê. and Maria Anagnostopoulou (editors). Sustainable management of the water of Lake Kerkini. Proceedings of a Training Workshop, Serres, 25-29 September 1995. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre (ÅÊÂÕ), Ministry of Environment and Ministry for Macedonia-Thrace. MedWet publication. 144 pp. (In Greek)

Skordas, Ê., Eleni Trifon, G. Blionis, and Å. Koutrakis. 1996. Lake Kerkini. Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre and Ministry for the Environment-Physical Planning-Public Works. MedWet publication.

Spiropoulos, Á and G. Gantidis. 1990. Soil study of the zone surrounding Lake Kerkini. pp 305-309 in P.Á. Gerakis (editor). Conservation and Management of Greek Wetlands. Proceedings of a Workshop. Thessaloniki 17-21 April 1989. WWF, Lab. of Ecology - School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, IUCN.

Tatarakis Å. 1995. Fisheries management in Lake Kerkini, pp. 95-108 in Ê. Skordas, and Maria Anagnostopoulou (editors). Sustainable management of the water of Lake Kerkini. Proceedings of a Training Workshop, Serres, 25-29 September 1995. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre (ÅÊÂÕ), Ministry of Environment and Ministry for Macedonia-Thrace. MedWet publication. (In Greek)

Trifon, Eleni, Ê. Skordas and Å. Koutrakis. 1996. Lake Kerkini educational package. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. MedWet publication

Vitoris, Ê. and G. Efthimiou. 1993. Silvicultural and ecological research of the riparian forests of rivers Strymon & Nestos and Lake Kerkini (provisional communication). Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre and School of Forestry and Natural Environment, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 46 pp. (In Greek)

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece). 1998. Comments on the Ramsar Information Sheets (RISs) for the 10 Greek Ramsar wetlands. (unpublished data).

Zalidis C. G. and A. L. Mantzavelas (eds). 1996. Inventory on Greek wetlands as natural resources (First approximation). Greek Biotope/Wetland Center (EKBY). English edition. xvi + 448pp.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece), Hellenic Ornithological Society, SPP. 1998. National Action Plan for the protection of the Pygmy Cormorant in Greece. (First approach. Lakes Mikri and Megali Prespa, pp. 139-155). (LIFE project «Protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece» (Contract number Â4-3200/96/499)). (In Greek)


ANNEX IV – 3

COMPLETED QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THE EVROS DELTA

MONTREUX RECORD – QUESTIONNAIRE

Section One: Information for assessing possible inclusion of a listed site in the Montreux Record

Essential items

I 1. Name of site: Evros Delta

I 2. Ramsar Criteria for listing the site as internationally important. Which criteria are still valid.

The following criteria are mentioned in the Information Sheet concerning the area:

1a, 1c | 2a, 2b, 2c | 3a, 3b, 3c | 4a, 4b

The above criteria are still valid.

I 3. Nature of the change in ecological character/ potential for adverse change.

  1. Loss or serious degradation of some wetland habitats (e.g. Drana lagoon)
  1. Change in hydrological regime and reduction in the inflow of fresh water
  1. Water quality degradation due to the inflow of effluents and possibly of nutrients (N, P) into the wetland. Transboundary pollution
  1. Degradation of wet meadow vegetation
  1. Reduction in fish production due to overfishing during the previous years
  1. Changes in avifauna
  1. Disturbance from tourists visiting bird habitats

I 4. Reasons for adverse change, or potential adverse change, in ecological character

(Reference is made to the corresponding numbering of answers to question I 3).

In the past, the Evros delta area was influenced by views about development and policies that prevailed throughout the world during the first decades after the Second World War. Efforts made by the Greek State to help the inhabitants of the Evros frontier area were focused on the exploitation of the wetland’s potential. The preservation of the crop and animal farming character of the area as a means to maintain the population in their villages became a national policy of high priority.

Changes in the ecological character of the wetland that occurred with the passage of time are due to this policy.

a) Wetland areas were lost due to drainage works that took place in 1950 - 1970. Draining included the construction of ditches and dikes. The usage of certain areas changed completely. On 24/4/97, an effort was made by the inhabitants of the community of Anthia to drain an area west of the Loutros torrent by opening a canal through which fresh water is discharged to the sea a) The objective was to use the area for cultivation. Other efforts to drain this area were made in the past. This area, which retains fresh water, functions as an intermediary buffer water barrier between cropland and the sea. It also constitutes a suitable habitat for the Lesser Slender – billed Curlew. Burning of the reedbeds affect avifauna populations negatively.

b) As will be analysed below, other factors also played a role in the degradation of habitats but the most critical one was the change in the hydrological regime.

Draining carried out between 1950 and 1970 caused important hydrological changes in the delta. Fresh water from river Evros was used for the irrigation of areas in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. The current hydrological regime is characterised by limited inflow of fresh water into the lagoons, seasonal flooding of the areas near the main canals and seasonal intrusion of seawater inwards to the delta. The three earthen dikes in the area do not cope with this situation efficiently. It should be noted that there is an extensive network of fresh water drillings in the area. During the past years, their depth has occasionally exceeded 100 m.

c) The quality of surface and ground water in the area has been affected mainly by industrial and urban waste originating from the neighbouring countries. Industrial activity in this part of Greece is low. Incidents of transboundary pollution are a permanent threat and many discussions have been carried out in order to find a way of tackling this threat. Specifically, the river receives industrial waste from the following areas in Bulgaria: Filipoupolis, Pzardik, Dimitrovgard, Stara Zagora, Karlovo, Slatika, Kardzali, Madan, Madzarovo, and Topolovgrad. It is suspected that there is also non-point source agricultural pollution in the area. During the past years, the quantity of pollutants arriving from Bulgaria was markedly reduced due to the economic decline occurring in that country. Effluents originating from Turkey also enter the river. Pollutants in Greece are: domestic waste from the towns of Orestiada, Soufli, and Didimotiho, and from the sugar factory in Orestiada.

d) Grazing is a traditional activity but it is carried out in an uncontrolled manner. In 1996, foot-and-mouth disease and smallpox led to the slaughtering of animals in the delta. According to the first part of the study for the management of grazing lands, the total number of animals in 1998 was 3240 cattle, 1725 goats and 3460 sheep. However, due to animal diseases, many animals possibly remained in their pens. There are signs of vegetation degradation at various locations in the delta.

e) Overfishing during the past years has led to a reduction in fish production.

f) Sakoulis and Bourdakis (1998), referring to information provided by Grimmet and Jones (1989), Important Bird Areas for Greece (1997) and the Hellenic Zoological Society and Hellenic Ornithological Society (1992), mention that the drainage of Drana lagoon led to the abandonment of the Mediterranean Gull colony that consisted of 1000 pairs. However, in recent years the species has returned to the area with approximately 250 pairs. There had been 25-30 pairs of Spur – winged Plover at the end of the 60s; there were only 10 pairs in 1997. The Pygmy Cormorant has ceased to breed in the area since 1970 and the Glossy Ibis ceased to breed in 1975. A reduction is observed in the total populations of wintering birds. (see following table)

Changes in the populations of wintering waterfowl in the Evros Delta area, for three periods (averages) are presented in the following table.

Populations (X 1000)

Species

1968 – 74

1982 - 86

1995 - 96

Anas platyrhynchos

11,5

2,9

15,2

Anas crecca

20,1

2,2

17,8

Anas penelope

32,8

15,6

9,3

Anas acuta

26,1

13,2

7,7

Fulica atra

16,1

13,2

7,7

Tadorna tadorna

0,2

0,4

1,2

Anas strepera

0,7

0,1

0,45

Anas clypeata

0,8

2,8

1,9

Cygnus olor

0,15

0,5

0,3

Total above species

108,45

50,9

61,8

Total aquatic (geese, ducks, swans & Coots)

127,4

72,6

65,5

Source: Sakoulis and Bourdakis (1998)

g) Changes caused by draining are mentioned in paragraph (a). As for hunting, the greatest concentration of hunters is recorded in December – January – February in Drana lagoon, which is a resting and feeding ground for geese.

h) The Municipality of Ferres has started a touristic programme in the delta area. Disturbance is caused by guided tours conducted with coaches and boats. Because no rules have been set for this type of tourism and there is insufficient knowledge, tourists usually enter strictly protected nesting sites by boat, often during the breeding period.

Additional items which may be included

I 5. Date Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands submitted

See Information Sheet submitted by the Ministry for the Environment on 1.6.1998

I 6. Date and source of Information Sheet updates

See Information Sheet submitted by the Ministry for the Environment on 1.6.1998

I 7. Benefits and values derived from the site

Maltby et al (1989) rate the probability for the various functions in the Evros delta to be performed as follows: High for a) support of wild fauna and fish b) sediment trapping and c) shore stabilisation. Medium for nutrient removal – transformation. Low for a) the supply of ground water and b) the modification of flood phenomena.

As for the values of the delta for Man and Nature, our rating is as follows:

Drinking water supply Expensive treatment installations would be necessary in order to use the water for drinking.

Irrigation Large areas of agricultural land are irrigated with water from river Evros. These areas are situated in the three countries crossed by the river: Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.

Fisheries The coastal zone and the lagoons are particularly important for fisheries. The shallow area of the delta plays an important role in the reproduction of fish.

Animal farming Grazing is a traditional activity in the area and carries a very high social value. It also plays a very important role in the functioning of the ecosystem.

Biological Despite the pressure to which it is subjected, the wetland hosts a large variety of habitats and a high number of species. All plant communities that occur in Mediterranean wetlands are present in the delta. Sand dune vegetation occurs mainly in the western part and the islets of the coastal zone. Salt marshes are found throughout the area, playing a vital role for birds and fish. Their role in the hydrology of the area is of paramount importance. Juncus communities grow at the interface zones between seawater and freshwater. Moreover, along the upper part of the delta, there are remains of an older extensive riparian forest composed of Alder (Alnus glutinosa), willows (Salix spp.) etc. that hosts numerous animal species. The natural ecosystems of the delta are in direct contact with agricultural land. In the upland area north of the delta, there are areas of phrygana, oak or pine.

Over 350 plant species have been recorded in the Evros delta and along the river. Six of these are characterised as rare in Greece or protected species.

According to the Hellenic Ornithological Society, the biological value of the delta is due mainly to three factors:

  1. very favourable geographic location in relation to the major bird migration routes of Western Palearctic,
  2. relatively mild winters,
  3. difficult access and isolation of the area, at least until a few years ago.

The area has a very high ornithological value. As a bird habitat, it functions in three basic ways (Hellenic Ornithological Society 1988):

  1. As a habitat for nesting or feeding for numerous groups of birds
  2. As a habitat for wintering of large waterfowl populations from the northern parts of mainly central and eastern Europe
  3. As a meeting and resting place for important numbers of migratory birds during their movements from and to the Middle East and Africa.

At least 304 out of the 407 birds of Greece have been recorded in the delta. Despite the fact that populations have decreased since the 1970s, many of the species observed are rare not only in Greece and in southeastern Europe but also in the entire Western Palearctic zone.

Fish fauna is also very important. Out of the 46 species of fish recorded, 5 are included in Annex II of directive 92/43/EEC. The same holds for 8 of the 28 amphibians and reptiles recorded in the area and for 2 of the 40 mammals.

Topoclimatic The existence of such an extensive river system plays a regulatory role for the climate of the greater area.

Scientific Several research studies and programmes are dealing with the various sectors of the local ecology.

Educational The delta constitutes an ideal place for environmental education. The variety of habitats offers possibilities for nature observation and information about the natural environment as well as the coexistence of Man and Nature.

Recreational There are many opportunities for walking, photography, and nature observation because the area offers landscapes of outstanding beauty which are accessible by visitors. A tourism programme by the Municipality of Ferres is already running in the Evros delta.

Water quality improvement: It varies from low to high depending on location.

I 8. Extent to which values and benefits derived from the site have decreased or changed

All values still exist and are important for the area. Some of these have been enhanced and others have degraded.

The biological value continues to be outstanding despite adverse human intervention. Its importance is perhaps greater than it had been in the previous years because of environmental degradation in the wider European area. On the other hand, the decrease in bird populations in relation to the 1970s, causes concern. During the 1990s, an increase in the population of some species was observed. We do not know whether this can be attributed to the positive measures taken in the area or to adverse changes in other wetlands.

There are no signs that the hydrological values, the topoclimatic value and the water quality improvement value have changed.

The recreational value is increasing due to a more widespread interest in spending leisure time in natural areas and also due to increased environmental awareness.

The same is true for values that are related to science and education.

Fisheries value has decreased but remains important for the local economy.

Animal farming value remains stable and will possibly increase due to reduced grazing (animal diseases).

I 9. Monitoring programme in place at the site (techniques, objectives, and nature of data and information gathered).

The following surveys, surveillance and monitoring projects are being carried out:

Project Object Implementation
1. LIFE II programme. Protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece Pygmy Cormorant populations, use of habitats, wetland problems WWF, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Society for the Protection of Prespa
2. Monitoring programme for quality of waters in which aquatic organisms live and feed Monitoring of water of lakes, lagoons, sea Department of Fisheries of Evros Prefecture.
3. Quality control and analyses of water from transboundary rivers in Thrace Monitoring of surface fresh water Alexandroupolis Chemical Service, Min. of Environment, General Chemical Laboratory of the Greek Government.
4. Protection of the Slender-billed Curlew   General Secretariat for Forests and the Natural Environment.
5. Bird censuses Waterfowl populations Hellenic Ornithological Society
6. Suitability of the soil for the cultivation of the area surrounding the Drana lagoon   EKBY, WWF

For many years, WWF Greece, the Hellenic Ornithological Society and other NGOs have concentrated their interest in the Evros delta area. During 1990-1996, WWF included the Evros delta in the Red Alert project in order to avoid further degradation of the area. It co-operates with public bodies, local communities, wetland users and other NGOs. Scientists settled in the area, recorded every action that threatened the wetlands and informed the competent services. At the same time, the local population was informed about wetland conservation issues through various actions.

I 10. Assessment procedures in place (how is the information obtained from the monitoring programme used)

Naturally, the body financing the project is the first one to evaluate the results obtained by the implementing body. Data from project 5 are processed by the Hellenic Ornithological Society and are sent to Wetlands International.

Data from project 1 are published periodically in mid-term progress reports by WWF Greece and the data are made available to all interested parties. Results will be forwarded to the civil services involved with the protection of the area in order to be used in future management planning.

Data from project 3 will be used for planning ways of confronting or preventing pollution from Greece and neighbouring countries.

Information gathered contributes in a more general way to the improvement of scientific knowledge of the area, clarifies certain issues of compatibility among existing uses and important values of the area.

I 11. Ameliorative and restoration measures in place or planned

Legal measures

  • On 27/4/1998 a Joint Ministerial Decision (JMD) was published concerning the definition of protection measures for the wetland and the natural formations in the Evros estuary and the greater area.
  • Part of the site is a game refuge.
  • It is a wetland of international importance (Ramsar Convention)
  • It is a Specially Protected Area (Barcelona Convention), an Important Bird Area for Greece and a Special Protection Area (Directive 79/409/EEC)
  • In 1997, the Greek State proposed the site for inclusion in the NATURA 2000 European Network; Code Number: GR 1110001.

Measures to improve scientific knowledge

Monitoring and conservation programmes mentioned resulted in the improvement of scientific knowledge about the site. Their continuation ensures the continuous flow of scientific data and contributes to the understanding of wetland functions.

Management measures

The Joint Ministerial Decision divides the area into three zones and certain uses are either permitted or prohibited in each zone. Many neighbouring locations that are considered to have important characteristics are also included in this Decision. A zone for controlled activities is foreseen around the wetland that is composed mainly of cropland and rangeland.

Following the signing of the Programme Agreement in 1997, a preliminary management scheme with wide participation started to operate in the area. Secretarial support is provided by EVROS LTD, (the local Development Agency.) The Programme Agreement includes an annex with planned projects and activities, timetables and budgets. Priority actions include small-scale management interventions, personnel training, infrastructure for fishermen, crop management, range management, the organisation of tourism, the operation of an information centre. Management studies for the site have been or are being carried out.

Furthermore, the implementation of the restoration project for Drana lagoon is expected to begin. According to our information, the decision for the restoration has been taken, public consent has been obtained and funds are available. The delay is due to bureaucracy.

Range management will be planned according to the findings of the relevant study, which is currently under preparation.

Information and awareness measures

The WWF-Greece Red Alert project influenced the inhabitants’ attitude positively as regards the protection of the delta and made people realise the values of this ecosystem. The fact that all communities and municipalities that are situated around the wetland have formed an Association for the Protection and the Promotion of the Evros Delta is indicative of this positive attitude. The Association acts on their behalf for problems that might arise during the Programme Agreement time span.

There is an equipped Information Centre at one of the two entrance points to the site, at the village of Loutra. An eco-touristic centre has been set up at the other entrance point, in the town of Ferres. In the site there are also observation towers and guardhouses. This infrastructure supports activities of public information and awareness, environmental education, monitoring etc. Furthermore, special publications, videotapes and CD-ROMs are produced. Seminars and guided tours are organised for visitors and schools. Thus, many schools and researchers from Greek and foreign institutes or universities have visited the delta during the past years (Ministry for the Environment 1998). A five-member working group has been set up in order to run the Information Centre and organise awareness activities for wetland users, school children and the public.

Measures and projects under implementation

The main projects and measures that are under implementation today in the Evros Delta greater area are the following:

1) Specific Environmental Study

"Programme for handling specific environmental problems and system for the operation and management of the protected Evros Delta area and its greater area".

Within the framework of the programme, the following are proposed:

  1. Protection and usage regulations based on a draft Presidential Decree in accordance with art. 19 of L. 1650/86 on the environment.
  2. The following projects/ studies:

i) Application of management measures to animal farming and study for the construction of traditional indoor installations, watering places and tagging.

ii) Qualitative and quantitative management of water resources of the Greek part of the river Evros hydrological basin

Supervising body: Ministry for the Environment
Duration of project: The study group has completed phase A

2) "Expression of interest for undertaking a contract for the preparation of a supplementary study of the lower areas of the Evros Delta"

  1. Preliminary and final Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and final study of additional technical projects in tributaries and collector ditches of river Evros.

  2. Programme for the spatial organisation of eco-tourism. Overall physical planning of eco-touristic activities in the Evros Delta and integration in the tourism network of the greater area.

  3. Study for the local embankment projects in the downstream part of the existing alignment (embankment).

  4. Study for the construction of communication links between the eastern part of the eastern dike and the western area.

  5. Study for the construction of installations for fishery activities in Drana lagoon etc., and EIA.

  6. Study for an environmental activities centre at the Topsi site in the Evros delta.

3) "Programme Agreement for the Operation of the Evros Delta Protected Area Infrastructure"

A body for managing and implementing projects and activities for the operation of the information centre, two observation towers and one guardhouse has been set up. The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Agriculture have formed this body following the signing of a Programme Agreement with the municipalities/ communities located around the delta and the Evros Development Agency.

Supervising body: Ministry for the Environment
Duration of project: Operating since July 1997

4) "Monitoring programme for the quality of water in which aquatic organisms live and feed"

The establishment of a laboratory for monitoring fresh and marine water is foreseen.

Supervising body: Evros Department of Fisheries
Duration of project: The establishment of the laboratory is nearing completion and it is expected that monitoring of water and aquatic organisms will begin soon.

5) "Quality control and water analyses of the transboundary rivers of Thrace"

A laboratory for monitoring surface freshwater in the rivers of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace has been organised already. Automatic sampling and monitoring instruments are to be installed along river Evros. The objective is to increase sampling points and to apply a plan for confronting or preventing pollution.

Management/ implementation bodies: Alexandroupolis Chemical Service, Ministry for the Environment, State General Chemical Laboratory

Projects planned by the Prefecture for 1998 in the Evros delta greater area are:

Projects to improve fisheries

"Projects to improve fisheries in the Drana lagoon" and "Projects to improve fisheries in the Monolimni lagoon"

The Drana study has not been assigned yet and the Ministry for the Environment is in the process of setting the environmental terms for the approval of the Monolimni study.

Financial framework: SANA 2
Budget: 400.000.000 drs.
Duration of project: 1994 – 1999

Irrigation projects

  • "Replacement of pumping stations (machinery)"

  • "Reconstruction of Sarantametro dam"

  • "Reconstruction of West Vrahionas dam"

  • "Construction of communication canals between the eastern part of the eastern dike and the western area"

  • "Peplos irrigation project"

  • "Itea irrigation project"

  • "Additional works for the redistribution of agricultural land in the area of Ferres"

Special projects

  • "Construction of fisheries infrastructure at Drana lagoon etc.

  • "Environmental Activities Centre at Topsi"

  • "Repair of terraces in the Loutros torrent"

  • "Environmental interpretation projects and works for the promotion of the area"

  • "Installations for washing pesticide sprayers"

Roadwork projects

  • "Bridge joining the peripheral road of the delta biotope and earthworks on the road coming from the guardhouse"

  • "Egnatia road to Alignment"

I 12. List of attachments provided by the Contracting Party

I 12. List of attachments provided by the Ramsar Bureau

Section Two: Information for assessing possible removal of a listed site from the Montreux Record

II 1. Success of ameliorative, restoration or maintenance measures

The general legal protection framework has been strengthened by the Joint Ministerial Decision.

International conventions and Directive 79/409/EEC as well as the proposal for inclusion of the area in the NATURA 2000 network increase prospects for efficient protection of the area. The preservation of the area as a natural ecosystem is made a priority and the inflow of funds for sustainable development is facilitated.

Within the framework of the "Programme for handling specific environmental problems and system for the operation and management of the protected Evros delta area and its greater region", which is under implementation, a draft Presidential Decree will be proposed. The Presidential Decree will include conservation and land use regulations.

Efforts to increase awareness among local people have proved fruitful. In the past, in certain cases, even the fact that researchers simply urged inhabitants to avoid adverse actions had positive results. Most of the local inhabitants have realised the need to protect the wetland. However, by stressing the importance of the wetland, an opposite result has also been reached. Many tourists visit the wetland and the way in which the tours are being conducted disturbs birds living in the delta.

The Information Centre is offering ever-increasing services and can contribute even more to public information and awareness.

The Programme Agreement has supplied the area with a flexible preliminary management scheme. The objectives of this scheme are: 1) to address rapidly issues concerning everyday management 2) to complete projects concerning awareness, infrastructure, surveys and management 3) to contribute to the co-ordination of bodies involved in the management of the site (Ministry of Environment 1998). However, a general objective of the Programme Agreement is to create conditions for setting up the legal entity of a management authority. Such an authority has not been instituted yet. This does not mean that competent authorities for various matters concerning the wetland are inhibited from carrying out positive actions.

II 2. Proposed monitoring and assessment procedures

Monitoring and assessment of proposed projects will be carried out within the framework of the Programme Agreement.

II 3. Extent to which the ecological character, benefits and values of the site have been restored or maintained

The Evros delta is still a very important area from an ecological point of view. Some of its economic and social values are increasing and some have deteriorated. The greatest and most important shock for the wetland is probably the illegal drainage of Drana lagoon. Reasons that led the inhabitants to this illegal action were the fear of salinisation of surrounding agricultural land and their protest against State authorities that, in their view, did not give sufficient attention to their problems. The drainage of Drana benefited nobody and deprived the delta of an extremely important avifauna habitat. During the current decade, progress has been noted in the awareness of the local population as regards the delta’s natural values. Thus, it is rather unlikely that similar adverse actions will occur again. Besides, everybody endorses the idea of restoration.

II 4. Rationale for removing the site from the Montreux Record

For many years, the delta area had been isolated due to its geographical position. For decades, people living around it have made efforts to survive in this part of Greece, which faces all the problems that emerge from its frontier character. Usually, it is very difficult to speak about environmental protection to people who face such problems. The fact that during the current decade governmental and non-governmental organisations show great interest in the area and are informing the inhabitants about wetland values is very important. The majority of the local population has consented to the protection of biotic and abiotic wetland resources that are valuable for the local economy. This is a necessary prerequisite for the realisation of any conservation project. The State can ensure continuous and efficient protection of the area by carrying out the already planned actions. The future of the area depends on the co-existence of the farming and fishing character with the natural ecosystems by adopting sustainable production practices. The development of tourism that has been observed during the past years favours conservation. The latter is taking up an economic dimension since it is the very biological value of the wetland the attracts visitors. However, one needs to be careful because tourism that is improperly organised is dangerous, especially to the avifauna of the site.

The committee concludes that the Evros Delta still faces important problems. It may be stressed that the most important problem is probably the delay in the restoration of the Drana lagoon. The disturbance of birds by visitors due to the way in which guided tours are conducted is a new problem. From an institutional point of view, delays have been noted but this does not constitute an obstacle for taking positive measures. On the other hand, during the current decade, noticeable progress has been made in two important fields. Firstly, many positive projects and actions have been undertaken. Secondly, and most importantly, the attitude of inhabitants towards nature conservation has become more positive. The committee deems that it is rather the latter two fields, and not the fulfilment of procedural obligations that should weigh most when comparing the current state of the Evros delta with the situation in 1990.

The inclusion of the Evros Delta in the Montreux Record had absolutely no influence on the promotion of nature protection at a local and prefectural level. In no way has this deterred harmful intervention. The removal of the area from the Record could boost the existing positive attitude of the local population and help to create a spirit of optimism. Inhabitants will feel that efforts made to preserve the environment are rewarded.

The committee proposes that the Evros Delta be removed from the Montreux Record.

If the proposal is accepted, the committee deems that the achieved progress, as well as the problems and actions that are necessary for the continuation of the rehabilitation of the wetland system, should be stressed.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anagnostopoulou, Maria (editor). 1996. Monitoring guide for sites of the "NATURA 2000" Network. The Goulandris Natural History Museum – Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. Thermi. 163 pp. (In Greek)

Arapis, T. and V. Flega. 1994. Biodiversity Conservation and local Economic development: A study of two Leader Projects in Greece, HOS-RSPB, BirdLife Int.

Babalonas D. 1979. Phytosociological study of the vegetation of the Evros delta. PhD thesis. Scientific Annals of the School of Natural Sciences Department. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Annex No 1. Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Economidis, P.S. 1991. Check list of the freshwater fishes of Greece. Recent status of threats and protection. Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature. Athens 46p.

Goutner V., and G. Handrinos. 1988. Evros Delta the rare birds wetland. Hellenic Ornithological Society, RSPB. Athens. (In Greek)

Goutner, V. and S. Kazantzidis. 1992. Shorebird populations in the Evros Delta. Published by Evros Local Union of Municipalities and Communities (T.E.D.K. Evros and WWF-Greece.

Grimmet, R.F.A. and T.A. Jones (compilers).1989. Important Bird Areas in Europe. International Council of Bird Preservation (ICBP), Technical Publication No 9.

Hellenic Ornithological Society. 1994. Important Bird Areas for Greece – Acquaintance with important biotopes of Greece. Special publication. Athens. 272 pp. (In Greek)

Malakou, M., H.Jerrentrup, A. Hatzantonis, and E. Papayannakis. 1988. Integrated management of coastal wetlands of the Mediterranean type; Northern Greece. Committee on Nature and Man, Panorama Cultural Society. Athens. 108p.

Maltby, E., R. Hughes, and C. Newbold. 1984. The dynamics and functions of coastal wetlands of the Mediterranean type. Report prepared for the European Commission DGXI.

Meininger, P.L. (ed). 1990. Birds of the wetlands in Northeast Greece, Spring 1987. WIWO Report 20. Zeist.

Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works "Programme for handling specific environmental problems and system for the operation and management of the protected Evros delta area". Part É. Athens. (In Greek)

Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works. 1986. Delineation of Ramsar wetlands: Evros Delta. Athens. (In Greek)

Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works. 1998. Information sheet on the Delta of Evros. Athens.

Panoras, Á., É. Mavroudis, G. Ch. Zalidis, X. Dimitriadis, and S. Chatzigiannakis. 1995. Soil study of agricultural areas surrounding the former Drana lagoon. ÅÊBÕ and World Wide Fund for Nature. Thermi. (In Greek)

Prefecture of Evros, Environmental and Town Planning Division. 1996. Specific Environmental Study of the Evros Delta (Paraskevopoulos Á. and associates). Athens. (In Greek)

Sakoulis Á. and Å. Bourdakis. 1998. Evaluation of avifauna population trends in Greek Ramsar wetlands (a first approximation). Hellenic Ornithological Society, Athens. (In Greek)

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece), Hellenic Ornithological Society, Society for the Protection of Prespes. 1998. (Life ÉÉ Programme "Protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece" (Contract number Â4-3200/96/499). Intermediary Progress Report.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece). 1998. Comments on the Ramsar Information Sheets (RISs) for Greek Ramsar wetlands. (unpublished report).

Zalidis C. G. and A. L. Mantzavelas (eds). 1996. Inventory on Greek wetlands as natural resources (First approximation). Greek Biotope/Wetland Center (EKBY). English edition. xvi + 448pp.


ANNEX IV – 4

COMPLETED QUESTIONNAIRE FOR LAKE VOLVI (PART OF LAKES VOLVI & KORONIA)

MONTREUX RECORD – QUESTIONNAIRE

Section One: Information for assessing possible inclusion of a listed site in the Montreux Record

Essential items

I 1. Name of site: Lake Volvi

II 2. Ramsar Criteria for listing the lake (together with lake Koronia) as internationally important. Which criteria are still valid.

1a | 2a, 2b, 2c | 3a, 3b, 3c | 4a, 4b

All the above criteria are still valid.

I 3. Nature of the change in ecological character/ potential for adverse change

  1. Interruption of communication with the sea via River Rihios
  2. Damage to the Apollonia forest
  3. Increased inflow of nutrients and solid particles
  4. Decrease or change in the fish population
  5. Changes in avifauna

I 4. Reasons for adverse change, or potential adverse change, in ecological character

(Reference is made to the corresponding numbering of answers to question I 3).

  1. Due to the fall in the water level. Reduced rainfall during the period 1988-1993 and thereafter is certainly a reason. We believe that water pumping for irrigation played a much less important role. Other probable causes related to the hydrogeology of the hydrological basin cannot be documented without long-term observation and study.
  2. Due to illegal grazing and traffic.
  3. Despite the lack of measurements, we assume that the denudation of the soil in a highland area due to fire must have caused this phenomenon. The inflow of nutrients originating from agro-ecosystems in the hydrological basin is also a possible cause. The inflow of pollutants from point sources cannot be very important.
  4. Primary cause is the drop in the water level. Other secondary causes, whose degree of impact is difficult to establish, are overfishing (probably worsened by the arrival of fishermen from lake Koronia which faces severe problems) and the periodical interruption of the communication of Volvi with the sea through Rihios river. The fish kills reported could be due to a rise in the concentration of salt and other substances and to a decrease in oxygen. These phenomena have perhaps been caused by the decrease in the lake’s water volume.
  5. According to Sakoulis and Bourdakis (1998) there has been an approximately 25% decrease in the number of waterfowl wintering in Volvi during the last years. The same authors mention that "I. Tsougrakis saw a tree (Apollonia forest) on which two thirds of the breeding potential of forest herons nested, being thrown down by the wind,. The reduction in bird populations in the Volvi area is probably due to both human-induced and natural causes. Illegal hunting and disturbance of avifauna has not yet ceased completely. It is not certain whether these constitute the most important human-induced causes".

Additional items which may be included

I 5. Date Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands submitted

I 6. Date and source of Information Sheet updates

I 7. Benefits and values derived from the site

We assume that Lake Volvi performs the following functions:

Functions

Probable Degree of Performance

Food web support

Nutrient removal / transformation

Trapping of sediments and toxic substances

Modification of flood phenomena

Groundwater recharge

Storage and release of heat

Regulation of salt balance

High

High

Medium

Medium

High

High

High

Our comments concerning the values of lake Volvi are as follows:

Drinking water supply: High value (after water treatment). It had been partially used before 1950. According to unconfirmed information, the possibility of considering the use of the water for supplying Thessaloniki after the year 2025 cannot be excluded.

Irrigation: Remarkable both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Fishing: Medium to high according to the type of wetland with which it is compared.

Animal farming: Medium.

Hunting: Rather low due to a long period of illegal and excessive hunting.

Wood/fibre production: Low. The largest part of the riparian forest was cleared many years ago.

Sand extraction: Complaints have been expressed with regard to illegal sand extraction. Therefore, sand must be accumulating but at a very slow rate.

Salt extraction: No possibility.

Scientific: Medium value. Few research projects. The hydrogeology and seismology of the area and the thermal springs located on the southern shoreline of the lake are particularly interesting.

Educational: Medium but increasing due to the operation of the Information Centre and the educational material produced.

Recreational: Medium but expected to rise due to various infrastructure projects for the accommodation of visitors.

Flood control: Human settlements are not in danger.

Improvement of water quality: Medium to high.

Topoclimatic: Very high due to the size of the lake and the characteristics of the hydrological basin.

Therapeutic: Very high if one judges by the presence of thermal springs and the infrastructure for visitors who appreciate the therapeutic properties of the spas.

Biological: The fauna can be summarised as follows (Kazantzidis, personal communication 1998)

  • Fish: 29 species, one of which is endemic. There is an endemic subspecies. The rare Aspius aspius is also present.

  • Amphibians: at least 5 species

  • Reptiles: 14 species

  • Birds: over 200 species

  • Mammals: 34 species.

Many of the above species are considered rare and are included in lists of protected species (such as Community Directive 79/409 on the protection of birds and their habitats, Community Directive 92/43 and the Red Data Book on endangered vertebrates of Greece).

There is also remarkable plant diversity.

The riparian forest of Apollonia is one of the very few of its kind still existing in Greece.

I 8. Extent to which values and benefits derived from the site have decreased or changed.

Decrease in the fishing value of Volvi as compared with the pre-1985 period. Increase in educational and recreational value and perhaps, in the future, the scientific value. As for biological value, it is assumed that the diversity of flora remains unchanged and that, according to counts, diversity and populations of birds have decreased.

I 9. Monitoring programme in place at the site

  1. Various government services measure meteorological parameters and water quality parameters but not systematically. Few data on these parameters have been collected.
  2. Every January, the Hellenic Ornithological Society organises counts of wintering waterfowl.
  3. From time to time, short-term surveys concerning the abiotic and biotic parameters of Lake Volvi and its hydrological basin were carried out.

I 10. Assessment procedures in place

Assessment differs according to the project, the funding agency and the implementation body. The results of bird counts are accessible at national and international level.

I 11. Ameliorative and restoration measures in place or planned

Measures concerning Lake Koronia only are listed below because some of these are likely to affect Lake Volvi. Actually, it is estimated that one of the projects for Koronia (diversion of torrents from Volvi to Koronia), if implemented according to the initial proposal, will have adverse effects on Volvi. We note that certain scientists doubt whether certain of the proposals in the recent Master Plan for the preservation of Koronia are economically and technically feasible and environmentally sound.

  1. During 1994-95, the Ministry of Environment and EKBY carried out a public information and awareness campaign for the lakes Koronia and Volvi within the framework of MedWet.
  2. Hunting is prohibited in the area.
  3. The Prefecture of Thessaloniki has set prohibitions on: a) new drilling around lake Koronia, b) any type of surface water extraction from Koronia and c) the cultivation of recently exposed areas along the shoreline. Furthermore, fines have been imposed on industries and farmers. Agricultural land neighbouring with the Apollonia forest (north and east of the forest) were abandoned after other land was accorded to its owners.
  4. The project for the on-site sign-posting of the boundaries of Koronia was completed recently.
  5. The Joint Ministerial Decision for the definition of zones and the application of protection measures is ready to be signed by the competent Ministers.
  6. The Special Environmental Study (SES) has reached its final stage.
  7. The area has been proposed for inclusion in the NATURA 2000 network, in accordance with Community Directive 92/43 and part of it has been qualified as a Special Protection Area in accordance with Community Directive 79/409.
  8. The Programme Agreement for the protection and enhancement of the area is in operation. It includes the creation of a preliminary management scheme for the entire Ramsar site and the implementation of projects and actions for its protection and the promotion of its values.
  9. Studies for saving lake Koronia have been carried out.
  10. The Ministry of Environment has carried out infrastructure projects (an Information Centre, observation towers and guardhouses) for the protection and promotion of the area.
  11. Various public information and awareness actions are being carried out or will be carried out within the framework of the Programme Agreement (see II 8).
  12. Projects for the surveillance - wardening of the area are being carried out within the framework of the Programme Agreement (see I 11.8).
  13. A study of fish fauna and the delimitation of fishing zones is being carried out within the framework of the Programme Agreement (see I 11.8).
  14. Projects for the protection and the promotion of the riparian forests of Apollonia and of Rendina are being carried out within the framework of the Programme Agreement (see I 11.8).
  15. An environmental quality monitoring project will be carried out within the framework of the Programme Agreement (see I 11.8).
  16. The installation of a hydrological monitoring network in the Mygdonia basin, in order to measure quantitative and qualitative parameters, has been planned within the framework of the Programme Agreement (see I 11.8).
  17. Recently, the Master Plan for saving Lake Koronia was completed within the framework of I 11.10.
  18. Within the framework of the Master Plan for Koronia (I 11.18) a proposal from the Prefecture of Thessaloniki was submitted to the Cohesion Fund for the financing of a project to transport water from river Aliakmon to Koronia.
  19. Within the framework of the Master Plan for Koronia (I 11.18) a proposal from the Prefecture of Thessaloniki was submitted to the Cohesion Fund for the financing of urgent measures. The following are included in these measures: a) provision of technical assistance to the Prefecture, b) environmental monitoring, c) public information campaign, d) study for the treatment and disposal of industrial and agricultural waste, e) diversion of Langadikia and Sholario torrents, f) hydrogeological study to document the feasibility of short term exploitation of the underground aquifer and implementation of the proposals of the study, g) feasibility study and planning for the repair and extension of irrigation networks.
  20. Within the framework of the Master Plan for Koronia (I 11.18) a proposal from the Prefecture of Thessaloniki was submitted to the Cohesion Fund for the financing, planning and construction of a sewage treatment plant, a sedimentation tank and a sewerage network for the town of Langadas.
  21. The Ministry of Agriculture has drafted a project proposal (in co-operation with EKBY) which has been submitted to Directorate General VI of the European Commission within the framework of the agri-environmental Regulation 2078/92. The objective of the project is to support farmers who will use various sustainable agricultural production practices in lakeside areas of northern Greece including Volvi and Koronia.

I 11. List of attachments provided by the Contracting Party

I 12. List of attachments provided by the Ramsar Bureau

Section Two : Information for assessing possible removal of a listed site from the Montreux Record

II 1. Success of ameliorative, restoration or maintenance measures

  1. Public information and awareness projects were successful especially the one carried out within the framework of MedWet because the project was based on the convergence of ideas expressed by staff of the local civil services involved in the management of the wetland. Further improvement is expected through the implementation of actions mentioned in I 11.12.

  2. Institutional and organisational efforts have succeeded in convincing the users of resources and the local inhabitants that there is political will to protect the area. Unfortunately, the signature of the Joint Ministerial Decision has been delayed. The Presidential Decree that will follow the Specific Environmental Study, if instituted promptly, will constitute a powerful legal protection tool.

  3. The prohibition on hunting, despite insufficient wardening, has reduced illegal hunting substantially.

  4. The various prohibitions and charges against violators have started to produce the first positive, although limited, results. Difficulties in the actual collection of fines constitute an obstacle.

  5. Voluntary set-aside of fields neighbouring with the Apollonia forest is a first step towards creating a buffer zone and will possibly give the forest an opportunity to expand. Communication of the organisms living in the forest with lake Volvi and the adjacent torrent is facilitated.

  6. Projects and actions included in the Programme Agreement have progressed at different rates. The organisation and operation of the preliminary management scheme had slow progress. This was expected because there is no experience with such forms of management. It might be proven that it was very ambitious and might need adaptations. What is important is that a significant co-ordination step has been made. Most positive projects can be implemented and are being implemented even if the scheme is not fully operating. Moreover, the progress that has been made in the information and awareness of local staff of civil services and the public is noticeable. The progress made regarding the users of wetland resources has, expectedly, been lesser. Future efforts should therefore be focused on users.

  7. The study of the fish fauna (I 11.14) of Volvi will contribute positively towards determining the causes of changes and undertaking remedial measures. If the assumption that fish fauna problems are due mainly to the reduction in rainfall proves correct, then it will be easier to understand the problems of other animal taxa.

  8. We share the reservations of scientists who are opposed to certain points of the Master Plan for Koronia and in particular the points that might adversely affect lake Volvi. It would be useful if the planners could provide further explanations.

  9. The Ministry of Agriculture project for the application of Community Regulation 2078/92 is pioneering for Greece, and may help rehabilitate wetland functions. We do not know whether all organisational prerequisites and know-how for the prompt application and implementation of its results have been ensured. It is most important that it starts to be implemented.

II 2. Proposed monitoring and assessment procedures

  1. A monitoring programme for environmental quality will be implemented within the framework of the Programme Agreement (I 11.16 & II 1.10).
  2. The installation of a network for measuring qualitative and quantitative hydrological parameters in the Mygdonia basin is being planned within the framework of the Programme Agreement (I 11.17 & II 1.10).

II 3. Extent to which the ecological character, benefits and values of the site have been restored or maintained.

The landscape of Volvi has not been altered and no new human activities threatening for lake ecosystems have been developed, except for the increase in the irrigated area.

Stabilisation or even increasing trends in most of the economic and social values of the lake are observed, except for the fishing value that has declined. A decrease in certain parameters of the biological value was also observed. The causes of these decreases are difficult to explain. We assume, however, that the most important cause is the fall in the lake’s water level due to reduced rainfall.

II 4. Rationale for removing the site from the Montreux Record

We believe that if lakes Volvi and Koronia had been listed separately in the List of Wetlands of International Importance, lake Volvi would have been listed in the Montreux Record solely because of the failure to fulfil institutional requirements (Specific Environmental Study, maps etc.) We believe that the structural and functional characteristics of Lake Volvi have not changed much due to human interference during the past decades. Of course, problems do exist e.g. in management of irrigation water and fish populations.

Positive actions and projects for the lakes that have been carried out and are being carried out during the current decade are noteworthy and the first positive results have started to become evident. Most inhabitants are worried about the future of the lakes, they wish to preserve them in good condition and tolerate certain restrictive measures (e.g. restrictions regarding new drillings and hunting) even though there are no compensatory benefits. The introduction of compensatory measures e.g. through the application of Regulation 2078/92, will render the attitude of the inhabitants even more positive.

Proposal

We propose the removal of Lake Volvi from the Montreux Record as long as procedural obstacles do not impede it. These obstacles are, firstly the incomplete issue of national regulatory acts (Joint Ministerial Decision, Presidential Decree) and secondly, the fact that the lake is registered in the List of Wetlands of International Importance together with lake Koronia.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arapis, Th., G. Blionis, S. Chatzigiannakis, and Å. Koutrakis. 1995. Koronia- Volvi: Valuable and endangered water. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. Thermi. (In Greek)

Arapis, Th., V. Hatzirvarsanis, S. Farides, Å. Koutrakis, Maria Katsakiori, and G. Blionis 1995. Educational package for lake Koronia. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. Thermi. (In Greek)

Chatzigiannakis, S., G. Liponis et al. 1995. Proposals for sustainable management of agro-ecosystems neighbouring with Lakes Volvi and Koronia (unpublished documents). Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. Thermi. (In Greek)

Economides, G. V. 1991. Bionomics study of the benthic macrofauna of Lake Volvi. Doctoral Thesis. Department of Biology, University of Thessaloniki. 211 pp. (In Greek)

Grammatikopoulou, Nina, D. Kechagias êáé G. Economides. 1996. Environmental Report «Plan for the salvation of lake Koronia». Ministry for the Environment (Regional service of Central Macedonia, Environment Unit), – Prefecture of Thessaloniki (Province of Langadas – Fisheries Unit). Thessaloniki. 66 pp. + annex. (In Greek)

Kazantzidis, S. and Maria Anagnostopoulou. 1995. Lake Koronia (Greece). In: Elaboration of the manual on the Mediterranean wetlands management (Chapter: Management problems: Case studies).

Kazantzidis, S., Maria Anagnostopoulou and P. Á. Gerakis. 1995. Problems in 35 Greek wetlands and associated conservation actions: Wetland Monitoring Project 1992-1994. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. Thermi 249 pp. (In Greek)

Knight Piesold, G. Karavokyris & partners, Anelixi & Agrisystems. 1998. Environmental restoration of lake Koronia: final report. ÅU DG XVI Cohesion Fund (Greek translation of the original in English).

Moustaka, Ì. 1988. Seasonal variations, annual periodicity and spatial distribution of phytoplankton populations in Lake Volvi. Doctoral Thesis. Department of Biology, University of Thessaloniki. 230 pp. (In Greek)

Psilovikos, Á. Á. 1977. Paleogeographical evolution of the Mygdonian basin and lake (Langadas - Volvi). Doctoral thesis. University of Thessaloniki 156 pp. (In Greek)

Sakoulis, Á. and Å. Bourdakis. 1998. Evaluation of the trends of avifauna populations in Greek Ramsar wetlands. (a first approximation). Hellenic Ornithological Society. Athens. (In Greek)

Sekliziotis, S. & Á. Papakonstantinou 1992. Study for the delineation and management of lakes: Koronia – Volvi. Final report. Ministry for the Environment – Environmental Planning Division. Athens 339 pp.

Tsiouris, S., Kyriaki Kalbourtji and D. Alifrangis. 1993. Effects of cultivation techniques on the quality of surface run-off water and transported sediments (hydrological basin of Lake Koronia). Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre, Thermi. (In Greek)

Zalidis, Ch. G. and Á. L. Mantzavelas (Editors). 1994. Inventory of Greek wetlands as natural resources (first approximation). Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre (EKBY). Thermi. xvi+448 pp.

Zarftsian, Maria-Eleni. 1989. Seasonal variations in spatial distribution of the planktonic invertebrates of Lake Volvi. Doctoral Thesis. Department of Biology, University of Thessaloniki. 249 pp. + annex. (In Greek)


ANNEX V

COMPLETED QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THE DELTA OF AXIOS –

LOUDIAS – ALIAKMON (AND ALIKI KITROUS)V

MONTREUX RECORD – QUESTIONNAIRE

Section One: Information for assessing possible inclusion of a listed site in the Montreux Record

Essential items

I 1. Name of site: Axios – Loudias – Aliakmon Delta (and Aliki Kitrous)

I 2. Ramsar Criteria for listing the site as internationally important. Which criteria are still valid?

The following criteria are mentioned in the Information Sheet concerning the area:

1a, 1c | 2b, 2c | 3a, 3b, 3c | 4a, 4b

The above criteria are still valid.

I 3. Nature of the change in ecological character/ potential for adverse effects

  1. Pollution of surface water, especially of river Loudias
  2. Domestic waste disposal
  3. Reduction in the flow of river Axios during summer
  4. Construction of illegal settlements on the coastline
  5. Overgrazing
  6. Important reduction (perhaps disappearance) of Jackal populations.

I 4. Reasons for adverse change, or potential adverse change, in ecological character

(Reference is made to the corresponding numbering of answers to question I 3.)

  1. The main sources of pollution are point sources. The most important pollutants are untreated effluents from human settlements and industry. It should be stressed that, in the summer, effluents from canneries (especially in the Prefecture of Pella) cause the most serious problem by discharging into Ditch 66 and consequently to river Loudias. Furthermore, the Sindos Ditch is one of the most polluted watercourses in the country.
  2. Empty mussel shells accumulate on the coast. Domestic solid waste is dumped at various places of the delta with no provision for sanitary measures e.g. soil topping.
  3. During the summer months, the flow of rivers Axios and Aliakmon is reduced greatly both due to natural conditions (reduced or no rainfall and intensive evaporation) and the use of water for irrigation. During the past 15 years, the rice-field surface area has increased. Rice-fields, as known, have greater irrigation water requirements as compared to other agro-ecosystems (e.g. corn, sugar beet).
  4. Illegal construction on the coastline of the delta has increased during the past years. Constructions include huts and small storehouses for mussel farmers, refectories and resort houses.
  5. Farmers allow cattle to graze freely in the site without control over either their numbers or the areas where they graze. At various locations, there are signs of vegetation degradation due to overgrazing.
  6. According to the inhabitants of nearby settlements, during the 1985-1995 period, the population of Jackals has significantly reduced because of hunting. Animal farmers claimed that Jackals caused damage to their herds and therefore they exterminated them. Adverse changes in other parameters of the biological value of the site have also been reported.

Additional items which may be included

I 5. Date Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands submitted

I 6. Date and source of Information Sheet updates

I 7. Benefits and values derived form the site

Although quantitative data are insufficient, we identify and evaluate the natural wetland functions of the area by postulation (see Adamus et al 1987, A. Gerakis and Kalburtji 1998). These are:

Functions

Probable Degree of Performance

Foodweb support

Nutrient removal/transformation

Trapping of sediments and toxic substances

Modification of flood phenomena

Groundwater recharge

Storage and release of heat

Regulation of salt balance

High

Medium

High

Low

Low

Low

High

We evaluate the area’s values as follows. (These values derive from the importance of functions and the existence of other attributes).

Drinking water supply: Non-existent for Loudias, low for Axios. Aliakmon could be (as it is predicted) used after adequate treatment.

Irrigation: Medium for Axios, satisfactory for Aliakmon and low for Loudias. The values of the first two are being used extensively and the water of the third one is used occasionally.

Fishing: Insignificant to non-existent for the rivers. High in the shallow marine zone where mussel farming constitutes a very important economic activity.

Animal farming: High in certain locations. A high degree of use is observed at many locations.

Hunting: High. Not extensively used because of restrictions.

Wood/fibre production: Medium in certain locations.

Sand extraction: High value. Used intensively in the Axios riverbed, upstream from the Thessaloniki-Katerini National Freeway.

Salt extraction: High value and important utilisation at the Aliki Kitrous site.

Scientific: High from the point of view of fauna, flora, vegetation, problematic soils, hydrology, land reclamation projects, geology, physical geography, pollution and nutrient transformation processes. A remarkable number of research projects.

Educational: High value because of many objects, the patchiness of the wetland area, short distance from a large urban centre (Thessaloniki). Presence of a Technological Education Institute (Higher education) a few kilometres from the Delta. An Information Centre is already in operation at Chalastra. Low degree of utilisation.

Cultural: Medium because only the historic parameter (history of Ancient Macedonia and the Macedonian battles at the beginning of the 20th century against the Ottoman occupation) is important.

Recreational: Medium. Low degree of utilisation.

Flood control: Low

Water quality improvement: Varying from low to high in different locations.

Topoclimatic: Low (there are few deep water bodies in the delta).

The above evaluations of functions and values are based on a varying degree of subjectivity especially in wetland areas such as deltas that are a mosaic of many individual smaller wetlands of different types. Ideally, the area under examination should be divided into many individual wetland ecosystems and each one should be evaluated separately.

The biological value of the area with regard to the fauna is high and may be summarised as follows:

Twenty six species of fish have been recorded in Axios, one of which is endemic (Rutilus macedonicus). Five species of fish are considered vulnerable and are protected by fisheries legislation.

Fifteen species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians and 17 species of mammals have been reported. At least 6 species of mammals are included in the various vulnerability categories in the Red Data Book on Threatened Vertebrates of Greece. These are: Wild Cat, Wolf, Jackal, European Souslik, Otter and Badger.

As for the avifauna, 215 species of birds have been recorded, 79 of which nest in the area and the rest stop by or winter in the area. Twenty seven of the nesting species are considered rare and are protected by Community Directive 79/409 (on the protection of birds and their habitats) and Law 1335/83 or the Bern Convention (on the Conservation of Wildlife and the Natural Environment). Fifty eight of the remaining ones are protected. Two of the species recorded in the area, the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris), are among the rarest species of birds in the world (world threatened)

I 8. Extent to which values and benefits derived from the site have decreased or changed

The values that we believe have been altered are the following:

  1. The users of the fishing value of the marine zone argue that the value has decreased. We have found no quantitative data to support this argument.
  2. The scientific value is increasing due to management studies carried out during the current decade, and also due to the changes that have started to appear in the scientific understanding of past errors related to wetland utilisation e.g. non-beneficial drainage, salinisation of soils, unwise use of irrigation water.
  3. The educational and recreational values have increased to a certain extent and are expected to increase further as the Information Centre of Chalastra and the Malgara Centre further develop their services.
  4. As for the biological value of the area, we note the following: In general the landscape has not been greatly altered but certain locations have degraded, particularly due to domestic waste disposal and illegal construction. These visible causes and water pollution have caused the degradation of flora and fauna habitats. The most important change in land use is the extension of rice fields at the expense of other agro-ecosystems. The consequences of this change in the biota of the natural wetland have not been evaluated. There are no data to evaluate changes in flora diversity. As for the fauna, periodical records exist only for birds. Sakoulis and Bourdakis (1998) summarise these below:
Species

1968-74

1982-86

1995-97

Anas penelope

20,6

1,0

2,8

Tadorna tadorna

0,8

0,4

2

Fulica atra

13,6

0,2

2,1

Total of the above species

35

1,6

6,9

Total waterfowl (geese, ducks, Swans & Coots)

50,8

4,3

16,7

Sakoulis and Bourdakis (1998) mention that the Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus) has ceased to breed in Aliki Kitrous and that the populations of the Pygmy Cormorant, the Glossy Ibis, the Gull-billed Tern and to a lesser extend those of the Spoonbill and the Collard Pratincole have decreased. Moreover, they report that the populations of waterfowl wintering in the area had decreased during the 1980s to one tenth of those of the 1970s. A certain increase has been noted, however, in the current decade.

According to information that we could not manage to confirm, a number of jackals have started to re-appear in the Axios Delta.

I 9. Monitoring programme in place at the site (techniques, objectives, and nature of data and information gathered)

Survey, surveillance and monitoring projects carried out in the area are:

1) WWF Greece, in co-operation with the Hellenic Ornithological Society, within the framework of the LIFE project "Protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece", under implementation in the area (1997-1999), are monitoring:

  • the populations of the Pygmy Cormorant in the area and the use of wetland habitats by this species
  • wetland problems

The objective of monitoring is to draft National Action Plans for the protection of the species in Greece that will specify actions for the area of Axios – Loudias – Aliakmon and the Gallikos estuary.

2) The Ministry for Macedonia – Thrace (Independent Environmental Protection Department) has been monitoring pollution of surface water in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki since 1992. Automatic stations monitor temperature, conductivity, turbidity, redox potential, dissolved oxygen and pH. Data for river Axios originate from the Gefira station whereas data for Loudias come from the Mikro Monastiri station.

3) The Ministry for Agriculture, in co-operation with Royal Institute Natural History of Belgium, the Hellenic Ornithological Society and the European Federation of Hunters (FASE), is carrying out a project for the Protection of the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris). Within the framework of the project, a special survey for the localisation of Slender-billed Curlew individuals and the study of their ecology is being carried out. At the same time, counts of waders are organised at regular intervals. Moreover, the problems faced by waders were recorded.

4) Around January every year, the wintering populations of waterfowl are estimated within the framework of Midwinter Waterfowl Census organised by the Hellenic Ornithological Society.

5) Various very interesting surveys for soil and water pollutants have been carried out during the past decade by various organisations (e.g. Schools of Chemistry and Agriculture. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki).

6) The Divisions for Agriculture of the prefectures to which the area belongs administratively keep records of yearly statistical data about the agro-ecosystems.

I 10. Assessment procedures in place and use of information obtained from the monitoring programme

Every organisation financing a project has its own evaluation procedure. The use of data from the above six projects is as follows (numbering corresponds to that of chapter I 9):

  1. Data and the results of the project will be forwarded to civil services dealing with the protection of the site so that they can help in future planning for its protection and management. Furthermore, the National Action Plan for the Protection of the Pygmy Cormorant in Greece will be produced. It is estimated that this plan will constitute a useful tool for the protection of the site.

  2. The results are accessible to all interested bodies and individuals and are being used by civil services for planning projects and actions to reduce pollution.

  3. The results were presented at an international conference that took place in Alexandroupolis (November 1998).

  4. At the national level, information is being processed by the Hellenic Ornithological Society whereas at an international level, it is forwarded to Wetlands International, which organises the overall international census project. The Ministry of Agriculture is the government agency responsible for carrying out the counts.

  5. The results have been published in scientific journals. Certain articles contain important management proposals etc.

  6. The data are useful for agricultural policy making, carrying out studies on the sustainable use of irrigation water, agrochemicals etc.

I 11. Ameliorative and restoration measures in place or planned

  1. The Joint Ministerial Decision (JMD) for the wetland "Measures for the protection of the Aliki Kitrous wetlands, the lower part and the delta of rivers Aliakmon, Loudias, Axios, Gallikos, the Kalohori lagoon and its greater area" has been signed (Official Gazette 687, Issue 2o, 6/7/1998).

  2. A Specific Environmental Study for the wetland is being carried out (virtually a management plan).

  3. Part of the area was qualified as a Special Protection Area in accordance with Community Directive 79/409/EEC (on the protection of birds and their biotopes).

  4. The site has been qualified as an Important Bird Area for Greece (three areas: 1) Axios – Loudias – Aliakmon delta, 2) River Axios and 3) Aliki Kitrous). The revised issue will include the Gallikos estuary.

  5. The site has been proposed for inclusion in the NATURA 2000 network.

  6. Hunting has been prohibited in the area.

  7. The Ministry for the Environment has built an Information Centre for the wetland, observation towers (five) and guardhouses (four) to assist the promotion and utilisation of the site.

  8. The Programme Agreement for the utilisation and the promotion of the site was signed recently. Within the framework of the Programme Agreement, the Information Centre has been staffed. Public information and awareness campaigns for the promotion of the wetland are financed.

  9. Within the framework of Regional Operational Programmes (PEP), the following projects have been planned:

"Domestic waste management"

Financial framework PEP
Budget: 40.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Development Association for Axios – Loudias

"Project for the organisation and management of the site's domestic waste"

Financial framework PEP
Budget: 43.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Development Association for Ionia – Sindos – Kalohori

10. Specific Environmental Study (SES)

"Programme for handling specific environmental problems and system for the operation and management of the protected area of the estuaries of rivers Axios, Loudias, Aliakmon, the Aliki Kitrous area and Kalohori lagoon"

The programme includes the determination of suitable regulatory interventions and specific management measures for the conservation of the ecological value and promotion of the protected area (delineation, issuing of Presidential Decree on the protection of the site, drafting of a proposal for the management body and the operation and management rules).

Financial framework: Operational Programme: "Environment" (Sub-project 3.1.)
Supervising body: Ministry of Environment (Natural Environment Management Section)
Project duration: under implementation – 1st phase completed.

Works planned within the framework of the Programme Agreement "Protection and Promotion of the Axios – Loudias – Aliakmon delta area and Aliki Kitrous"

Includes:

  • The operation of the Information Centre for the Axios – Loudias – Aliakmon delta and Aliki Kitrous
  • Landscaping of the area surrounding the Information Centre – Improvement of access to it.
  • Landscaping of Pieria thematic pavilion
  • Construction of two guardhouses on the border of the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, a guardhouse on the border of the Prefecture of Imathia and another one on the border of the Prefecture of Pieria.
  • Operation and utilisation of guardhouses, landscaping of exterior areas and improvement of access.
  • Support, co-operation, continuous provision of information and identification of problems.
  • Planning and implementation of information and awareness projects for competent bodies.
  • Planning and implementation of projects to attract, accommodate, inform and guide visitors and special groups.
  • Organisation and operation of archives regarding the site.
  • Organisation of conferences.
  • Publication of informative material (maps, brochures etc.)
  • Production of films and other audio-visual presentations about the site.
  • Publication of quarterly information bulletin.
  • Training of employees and ecoguides-wardens.
  • Planning and implementation of an environmental quality monitoring programme.
  • Implementation of special projects for the promotion of the area.
  • Delineation, sign-posting and fencing of protected area.
  • Creation of an organised zone for mussel farming.
  • Construction of a pier in the Prefecture of Imathia.
  • Provision of a vessel for the Prefecture of Imathia.

Financial framework: Operational Programme: "Environment" (Sub-project 3.2.), National funds.
Budget: 342.750.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Association for Protection and the Promotion (in the process of establishment) – formed by 23 organisations from the Prefectures of Thessaloniki, Imathia, Pieria, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Duration of project: 1997 – 1999.

12. "Construction of Information Centre of Nea Malgara, Prefecture of Thessaloniki"

Financial framework: Operational Programme: "Environment" (Sub-project 3.2.)
Budget: 111.000.000 drs.

13. Projects in the Prefecture of Pieria

  1. "Protection – Landscaping – Utilisation of the Pieria Coastline" (Includes the Communities of Korinos, Kitros, Makrigialos, Methoni, Agathoupolis)

Financial framework: SANA 2 (Measure: Tourism)
Budget: 200.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Prefecture of Pieria
Duration of project: 1996 – 1998

  1. "Mapping & delineation for the wetland of Agathoupolis" part of the protected area. Includes the promotion and the rehabilitation of zone B)

Financial framework: SANA2 (Measure: "Primary sector")
Budget: 30.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Prefecture of Pieria
Duration of project: 1997

14. Projects for the Prefecture of Kilkis

  1. "Biological treatment and construction of collection ducts for the Municipality of Kilkis" (River Gallikos receives effluents from the Municipality of Kilkis)

Financial framework: SANA2 (PEP2)
Budget: 430.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Municipal Water supply and Sanitation Company of Kilkis (DEYAK)
Duration of project: 1995 – 1998

  1. "Biological treatment plant for the Municipalities of Axioupolis and Polikastro" (River Axios receives effluents from both Municipalities)

Financial framework: PEP
Budget: 579.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Prefecture of Kilkis
Duration of project: 1997 – 1998

15. Project for the Prefecture of Grevena

Treatment of Greveva effluents (River Aliakmon, via its tributary Grevenitis receives effluents from the Municipality of Grevena)

Financial framework: National funds
Budget: 500.000.000 drs.
Management/ implementation body: Municipality of Grevena
Duration of project: 1998 – 1999

16. Sustainable management of irrigation water

In 1995, in co-operation with EKBY and the School of Agriculture of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, a study was carried out entitled "Method for the improvement of the irrigation efficiency of the irrigation networks of Axios and its importance for the natural wetland areas of the Delta" (Dimitriadis 1995).

17. Sustainable management of rice-field weeds

A research project is being carried out by a working group of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (under the guidance of Professor I. Elephtherohorinos) in the rice-fields of the delta greater area.

18. Experimental artificial wetland for the treatment of effluents and their use in irrigation.

Research project in the Gallikos riverbed. Carried out by the National Agricultural Research Foundation, EKBY, School of Agriculture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Sugar Industry and private bodies with funding provided by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology and the Ministry of Environment (Katsavouni et al 1997).

19. Mosquito control in the Axios Delta

In 1996, at the initiative of the Development Agency of Thessaloniki, with funding provided by the Prefecture of Thessaloniki and the Ministry for the Environment, a research and implementation project for tackling the mosquito problem was initiated. The project employs relatively "soft" chemical substances. S. Mourelatos and G. Iatrou are the scientists responsible for the project.

A similar project has started to be implemented in the Axios Delta and in other wetlands of Macedonia by a Greek-German group assisted by H. Jerrentrup.

I 12. List of attachments provided by the Contracting parties

I 13. List of attachments provided by the Ramsar Bureau

Section Two: Information for assessing possible removal of a listed site from the Montreux Record

II 1. Success of ameliorative, restoration or maintenance measures (reference is made to the corresponding numbering of answers to question I 11).

1, 2. The application of the Joint Ministerial Decision is expected to stop the degradation of the area and sets the basis for its future sustainable management. The Presidential Decree that will follow from the Specific Environmental Study is expected to mark the beginning of integrated management of the site. Today, the area is managed but not in an integrated way.

3, 4, 5. The inclusion of the area in the networks of protected areas, in accordance with the two Community Directives, contributes to the conservation of the area from an institutional point of view. Moreover, it facilitates the inflow of funds for its sustainable management (e.g. agri-environmental regulation 2078/92).

6. The prohibition on hunting has contributed to the protection of the area. Despite insufficient wardening, it is thought that illegal hunting is decreasing. The contribution of the local hunting club towards the prevention of illegal hunting is worth mentioning.

7. The positive consequences of the operation of the Information Centre have already become manifest. The location of observation towers and guardhouses was successfully selected. However, with the passage of time, it became apparent that they were not resistant enough to weather conditions and needed to be repaired. The observation towers and guardhouses were vandalised and non-game birds were disturbed. This is sad but also a sign that people with bad intentions have realised that something has started to change in the area. They have realised that measures are being taken to reverse the past situation that was characterised by lack of control.

8. Information and awareness projects have been successful in general terms and further improvement is expected with the implementation of the actions foreseen by the Programme Agreement. Wardening of the site is rather insufficient and the environmental quality monitoring foreseen by the Programme Agreement has not started yet.

9. The domestic waste management problem is tackled to a satisfactory degree by these projects but we consider the lack of immediate measures for preventing litter dumping in the protected area as an inexcusable omission.

10. The Specific Environmental Study (SES) updates and completes the management study (Topiotechniki 1992) that was perhaps the most complete - with regard to the number of subjects dealt – of this type of studies carried out to date for a Greek wetland. The SES will definitely contribute to the elucidation and the specification of institutional and other protection measures.

11. The Programme Agreement has two objectives. Firstly, the utilisation of existing infrastructure and the implementation of projects and actions for the protection and the promotion of the area. Secondly, the setting up and the operation of a preliminary management scheme for the area. As regards the first objective, progress has been from slow to satisfactory. As for the second one, weaknesses have already been noted. Weaknesses are due to objective causes e.g. very large and heterogeneous site that administratively belongs to three Prefectures and is crossed by rivers whose springs are very far away. Moreover, they are characterised by a large variety of human activities, numerous settlements in the peripheral zone, various environmental problems, conflicts of competencies, lack of know-how for the application of more sustainable practices for the production of plant and animal products. Furthermore, weaknesses are due to subjective causes, e.g. fear of certain inhabitants that nature protection will lead to economic losses, lack of long tradition and experience in co-ordinating actions in areas of such size and needs. The existence of so many serious problems renders progress in co-ordination very difficult. What is important is that the first step has been made. Besides, the lack of a legally instituted "powerful" management body is not the most important factor for protection. Services that are well equipped and staffed and users of wetland and agricultural resources can solve many of the problems of the site.

12, 13, 14, 15. The completion of these projects will positively influence (directly and indirectly) conservation conditions of the delta.

16. Local Land Reclamation Organisations (TOEB) and the competent services of the Ministry of Agriculture have shown interest in the application of the results.

17. Rice farmers in the Axios Delta and the greater area will be informed about the results of the project so that they will be able to reduce the use of very toxic agrochemicals. (It should be noted that the Reclamation Institute of Sindos and the Cereal Research Institute of Thessaloniki have experimental farms in the same area on which experiments for the wise use of agricultural resources are being carried out).

18. The implementation of results is hoped to contribute to the reduction of pollution in the Delta (and other wetlands) originating from the effluents of small settlements, and irrigation water saving.

19. Reservations have been expressed about whether the project will contribute positively to the preservation of the wetland because it includes two sprayings-by-air with chemical substances. Our view is that mosquito control is inevitable because their populations are too high, especially during the summer months. Mosquitoes not only render people’s lives unbearable but they are also dangerous for the health of the inhabitants of nearby communities. Further delay in mosquito control for reasons of protection of wildlife would render the inhabitants, and rightly so, hostile towards nature protection. Research on the species of mosquitoes and their biology has progressed satisfactorily and allows the selection of an integrated control plan so that toxic effects on nature and humans are minimised. More environmentally friendly methods of control are already being studied. The success of the project will have most probably, a positive effect on the attitude of inhabitants towards nature protection.

II 2. Proposed monitoring and assessment procedures

II 3. Extent to which the ecological character benefits and values of the site have been restored or maintained.

The area continues to be one of the most ecologically and economically important wetlands of the country. Since the 1980s, no further general and radical changes have been observed. Any visible changes are limited to a small number of locations e.g. illegal construction along part of the coastline, domestic waste dumping. No important drainage or felling has been observed. Water pollution is perhaps the most serious and most difficult problem to solve. The condition of Loudias (this tidal river does not have a delta) and the Sindos Ditch is serious but no deterioration has been observed. On the contrary, there is more knowledge about the problem and the local population is more aware. However, these factors have not been able to mobilise the State because the pollutants of these two watercourses originate mainly from manufacturing plants with marginal economic viability, which employ many people and use mainly local products, especially agricultural. This is not an excuse but it explains the hesitation of the State that does not wish to endanger jobs and thereby endanger the progress made until now in the attitude of inhabitants towards nature protection.

The rehabilitation of the delta to pre World War One conditions, e.g. recreation of Klidi lagoon etc, is very difficult because ecological and social conditions have changed radically. As it is known, deltas are much more dynamic formations as compared to lakes and lagoons. We propose a special study in order to determine the technical and economic feasibility of restoring certain individual ecosystems of the deltas.

The increase in the number of illegal refectories and resort houses is perhaps a paradox if one considers pessimistic evaluations concerning the ecological condition of the delta. How is it that a "polluted" area attracts so many visitors and people who invest money in resort houses?

Ornithologists note both adverse and positive changes in the avifauna as compared to the situation during the 1980s. One could attribute adverse changes to the degradation of habitats and positive ones to the gradual improvement in controlling hunters. This we believe is an oversimplification because there are additional factors that need to be examined, e.g. drought periods and the situation of other wetlands with which the delta is in functional communication. However, we agree with the degree of credibility of counts provided by the very ornithologists. We have no information to prove that the spread of the rice-fields observed during the past years inside and outside the delta was to the detriment of natural areas. This development appears to be negative in so far as less water is available for natural wetlands in the summer and non-point agricultural pollution is perhaps increasing. On the other hand, rice-fields are also important, even though secondary, avifauna habitats. A serious problem caused by the increase in the rice-field area, in particular near inhabited areas, is the very important increase in the mosquito population. No ecologist can object to the control of mosquitoes, as long as it is not unwise as was the case during the 1945-1955 decade (the use of DDT was not unwise in view of the situation and knowledge at the time). The fact that in the particular case, both the local community and the competent services demonstrated sensibility is a positive sign. In fact, the history of the problem during the current decade is interesting both ecologically and socially.

In sum, we believe that the ecological character of the area in general has not changed in comparison with the 1980 decade. Of course many problems remain serious, e.g. pollution, overgrazing, illegal construction whereas others, e.g. illegal hunting have become less serious. With the exception of illegal construction (against which certain measures have been planned but have not yet implemented) measures for confronting the problems of the site are proceeding.

Man, as a structural component of the wider delta ecosystem has demonstrated improved behaviour.

II 4. Rationale for removing the site from the Montreux Record

Generally speaking, the landscape of the site has remained unchanged for decades, despite intensive human activities and pollution. With the exception of the biological value, stability or even improvement has been observed for the others. Concerning the biological value, we believe that certain parameters show stability, others improvement and some deterioration. It is not easy to document fully the causes of improvement or deterioration.

The area is confronted with serious environmental problems. The most difficult to solve are in our view, river pollution, particularly in Loudias (Loudias does not form a delta), and the safeguard of a satisfactory flow, especially for Axios, during the summer months. Of course, the word "satisfactory" cannot be determined without long-term studies.

As for the pollution of the three rivers: Aliakmon is polluted to a lesser extent. Axios is polluted more than Aliakmon. However, the situation in Loudias from the point of view of point sources of pollution during summer continues to be unacceptable. The social problem that will be caused by bearing pressure on polluting industries processing agricultural products (a large part of the income of thousands of rural families depends on the operation of these industries) cannot be used forever as an excuse for tolerating the situation. Of course, Loudias supports natural processes in the area at a lesser degree than the other two rivers do because it is not a "proper" river but a large canal into which seawater flows from time to time. The fact that the settlement closest to Loudias, the politically and economically powerful town of Giannitsa is fairly aware of the problem should be considered as optimistic. Indications of this awareness are: (a) A town councillor and other citizens have sent complaints to the European Commission and the Greek authorities concerning the point-source pollution of Loudias on several occasions. (b) The Municipality of Giannitsa has taken action to limit its own pollution (with delay of course). (c) The Municipality of Giannitsa has carried out the first in Greece integrated environmental training project for farmers in organic farming, in co-operation with the School of Agriculture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. One of the objectives of the project is to provide a solution for the pollution problem of Loudias. (d) The Municipality of Giannitsa has planned a project for the rehabilitation of the Loudias riparian zone in order to use it as an area for Environmental Education, leisure and sport (rowing). Moreover, other municipalities are planning projects to limit their pollution.

The pollution of Axios originates both from the Greek territory and from the Republic of Skopje. The largest part of the hydrological basin belongs to the latter. We do not know exactly what measures the neighbouring country is planning for the limitation of pollution but environmental NGOs in Skopje have already expressed concern about the pollution of the Skopje part of Axios. Various projects have been planned or are under implementation in Greece which will contribute to the limitation of point pollution (see chapter I 11) in Axios (and other rivers).

It is believed that there is non-point pollution of natural ecosystems in the delta and the neighbouring agro-ecosystems although there is not sufficient information to evaluate the gravity of the problem. For anticipatory reasons only, it appears useful to assume that the problem is serious. However, it can be mitigated by the adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices, a matter that requires research. Researchers from the National Agricultural Research Foundation and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki have started to act towards this direction but funds are unfortunately insufficient. The fact that there is an experimental station very near the delta and that the Ministry of Agriculture has decided to employ more researchers for the Sindos Land Reclamation Research Institute are encouraging. The Sindos Institute has been involved in research projects and wetland management issues that concern the preservation of natural wetland systems.

The safeguard of a higher flow in the Axios (especially) and Aliakmon riverbeds is already a problem and might become even more difficult in the future due to the expected increased demand for drinking and irrigation water and the probable future climate changes. (Of course, this problem concerns thousands of other wetlands in arid and semi-arid zones on the planet). Land reclamation specialists (from the Ministry for Agriculture, the National Agricultural Research Foundation, and the University of Thessaloniki, EKBY) agree that there is an ample potential for saving irrigation water without decreasing crop yields. This can be achieved in many ways, one of which is the way proposed by Dimitriadis (1995). Those responsible for the irrigation network that uses water from Axios have shown interest in the Dimitriadis proposal.

As for the administrative and legal, official and informal obligations of the Greek State towards the Ramsar Convention, it is clear that they have been essentially fulfilled (e.g. delineation, maps). Only one remains to be fulfilled: the creation and legal consolidation of a special and powerful management scheme. First of all, the formation of such a preliminary management scheme through the recent Programme Agreement fulfils this obligation (or recommendation) to a great extent even though the Greek State still has to examine the legal part of the matter. We can examine the de facto aspect of it by asking the following question: Would ecological conditions be significantly improved in the delta if the management body had been set up ten years ago? Based on our knowledge of Greek reality, the socio-economic and ecological conditions in the area and the progress of the preliminary management scheme, our answer is negative. In our view, ten years ago it would not have been possible, due to insufficient public awareness, to obtain consent from the inhabitants, a primary prerequisite for the success of such a body. Today, although the majority of inhabitants agree to protection measures and take initiatives for the sustainable management of wetland and other ecosystems, the preliminary management scheme is progressing slowly due to the objective and subjective limitations mentioned earlier in this report. The preliminary management scheme is certainly useful. It suffices to mention the fact that the scheme improved communication and dialogue among government services and the exchange of views between government services on the one hand and users of wetland resources on the other.

Despite the fact that during the current decade, a small portion of the population had expressed negative attitude towards nature protection, we believe that the way in which inhabitants have handled, since 1985, the very serious mosquito problem is a sign of their positive attitude. Inhabitants had been asking for relief measures in vain, for many years, and when the situation became unbearable they did not proceed with mass and widespread sprayings with very toxic pesticides. Nor did they drain marshes. Instead, they assigned a research project and undertook careful pest control.

Conclusion

Arguments for keeping the area on the Montreux Record are: lack of a legally secure management body, water pollution (especially of Loudias), the need to secure more water for Axios, deterioration of certain parameters of the biological value, dumping of domestic waste, overgrazing at various locations, illegal hunting and illegal construction on the coastline.

Arguments for the removal of the area from the Montreux Record are: institutional measures have been taken (officially or de facto), the landscape has remained unaltered in general, values (except for the biological one) show signs of stabilisation or even improvement, certain biological parameters are reaching stability (or are perhaps recovering), numerous positive projects and actions have been carried out (e.g. research, educational, constructions) in order to confront the problems of pollution, use of water etc. and progress has been made in the awareness and consent of a large proportion of resources users, staff of civil services, elected local authorities, and the general public.

Proposal

One could argue that arguments in favour of removal are the same or slightly stronger than arguments against removal. One could propose, therefore, with reservation, that the area be removed from the Montreux Record. Unfortunately, two problems do not allow us to propose removal. Firstly, we have not managed to document the initiation of specific efforts to limit the serious pollution of Loudias. Secondly, the accumulation of domestic waste continues to constitute an "eye sore" and to justifiably disappoint people visiting the delta.

We believe that if political will is strengthened, centrally and locally, these two problems could start to be effectively tackled within 1999. As soon as there are clear signs of progress as regards these problems, removal could be re-examined. Finally, regardless of whether the area will be removed from the Montreux Record, the accumulated litter should be removed from the delta immediately in view of, among other reasons, the initiation of the Danon-Evian project.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

(The following sources are interesting but we do not believe that they are necessarily the most important. Some are not mentioned in the report despite the fact that they were taken into account).

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Andronopoulos, Â., D. Rozos and É. Chatzinakos. 1990. Geotechnical study of subsidence in the area of Kalohori - Prefecture of Thessaloniki. ÉGÌÅ – Directorate for Technical Geology. Athens. 45 pp. (In Greek)

Athanasiou, H. 1990. Wetland habitat loss in Thessaloniki plain, Greece. M.Sc. dissertation, University College London, London, 90. p.

Athanasiou, H., Á. Dimitriou and S. Kazantzidis. 1994. The Axios delta. Local Association of Municipalities and Communities of Prefecture of Thessaloniki – World Wide Fund for Nature WWF - Greece. 31 pp. (In Greek)

Babalonas, D. and Eva Papastergiadou. 1988. Flora and vegetation of the wetland of rivers Axios-Loudias-Aliakmon. Laboratory of Plant Taxonomy and Phytogeography, Dept of Biology University of Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Chatzigiannakis, S. 1988. Irrigation efficiency and the problem of salinisation in the irrigation networks of Chalastra- Kalohori and Gefira of the plain of Thessaloniki. Land Reclamation Institute. Sindos. 21 pp. (In Greek)

Chatzigiannakis, S. and Á. Panoras. 1992. The tidal river Loudias – Flow, water quality – Use of water for irrigation National Agricultural Research Foundation – Land Reclamation Institute Sindos. (In Greek)

Dimitriadis, X. 1995. Study for the improvement of the irrigating efficieny of the Axios irrigation network and its importance for the natural wetland areas of the Delta. Postgraduate dissertation. School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 206 pp. (In Greek)

Dimitsas, Ì. 1988. Ancient geography of Macedonia. ÉÌ×Á, Archive of Historical Studies. Thessaloniki. 912 pp.

Economides, P. S. et V. P. Voyiadjis. 1985. Les poissons des systèmes d' Axios-Doirani et de Gallikos (Macedoine, Grèce). Biologia Gallo-Hellenica 10: 89-93.

Exarhou & Nikolopoulos Engineering Consultants Ltd. 1994. Environmental Impact Assessment of the irrigation projects in the plain of Thessaloniki from river Aliakmon and the repair - maintenance of the canal joining Aliakmon to Axios. (In Greek)

Geogiades, Th. 1993. Ancent Macedonia according to Strabon. Malliaris-Pedia publications. Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Gerakis, A. and K. Kalburtji. 1998. Agricultural activities affecting the functions and values of Ramsar wetland sites. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment 70:119-128.

Gerakis, A., K.Kalburji, and S.Tsiouris. 1998. The role of organic farming in the sustainable development of watershed resources of Greece. p.639-644. In Sustainable agriculture for food, energy and industry. Proceedings of an International Conference held in Braunschweig, Germany in 22-28 June 1997 organised by FAO, Indian Society for Sustainable Agriculture and Resource Management and the Federal Agricultural Research Centre of Germany. James and James (Science Publishers) Ltd.

Gerakis, P. Á., D. S. Veressoglou and Kiriaki Kalburtji. 1988. Agricultural activities in the Axios Delta and evaluation of their threatening potential for the wetland. Dept of Agricultural Sciences, University of Thessaloniki. 63 pp. (In Greek)

Grimmet R.F.A. and T.A. Jones (compilers).1989. Important Bird Areas in Europe. International Council of Bird Preservation (ICBP), Technical Publication No 9.

Kazantzidis, S. 1998. Reproductive ecology of the Egretta garzetta garzetta L. 1766 in the Axios Delta. Doctoral thesis. Dept of Biology. University of Thessaloniki. 204 pp. (In Greek, English summary)

Kazantzidis, S. and V. Goutner. 1996. Foraging ecology and conservation of feeding habitats of Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) in the Axios river delta, Macedonia, Greece. Colonial Waterbirds 19 (Special Publication 1): 115-121.

Kazantzidis, S., H. Hafner and V. Goutner. 1996. Comparative breeding ecology of the Little Egret (Egretta g. Garzetta) in the Axios Delta (Greece) and the Camargue (France). Rev. Ecol. (Terre et Vie) 51: 313-327.

Kazantzidis, S., Maria Anagnostopoulou and P. Á. Gerakis. 1995. Problems in 35 Greek wetlands and associated conservation actions: Wetland Monitoring Project 1992-1994. Greek Biotope/ Wetland Centre. Thermi 249 pp. (In Greek)

Kazantzidis, S., V. Goutner, Myrto Pyrovetsi, and A. Sinis. 1997. Comparative nest site selection and breeding success in 2 sympatric ardeids, Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Little Egrert (Egretta garzetta) in the Axios Delta, Macedonia, Greece. Colonial Waterbirds 20: 505-517.

Konstantinidis, Ê. Á. 1989. Land reclamation projects in the plain of Thessaloniki. Geotechnical Chamber of Greece. Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Latsoudis, P. and É. Tsougrakis. 1992. Grazing conditions for farm animals in the wetland of the Axios estuary. Graduate dissertation. Dept of Forestry and Natural Environment, University of Thessaloniki. (In Greek)

Lavrentiadis, G. 1973. The flora and vegetation of the rice fields of Kalohori. Proceedings of the Institute of Oceanographic and Fisheries Research. Volume ×É: 145 - 165. (In Greek)

Mavroudis, G. É. and Á. G. Panoras. 1993. Climatic data of the plain of Thessaloniki. National Agricultural Research Foundation – Land Reclamation Institute. Sindos. (In Greek)

Ministry of Environment (Environmental Planning Division, Natural Environment Management Section). 1997. Programme for handling specific environmental problems and system for the operation and management of the protected area of the Gallikos, Axios, Loudias, Aliakmon estuaries and Aliki Kitrous and the Kalohori lagoon and its wider area. (In Greek)

Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works. 1998. Information sheet on the Delta of Axios-Loudias-Aliakmon and Alyki Kitrous. Athens.

Ministry of Environment. 1986. Programme for the delineation of Ramsar wetlands. Axios, Loudias, Aliakmon estuaries. Athens. (In Greek)

Panoras, Á.G. and É.G. Mavroudis. 1994. Evaluation of average requirements in water of the vernal crops of river Loudias hydrological basin. Geotechnical Scientific Themes 6 (1): 52-64. (In Greek)

Papageorgiou, Â. Á. 1988. Ancient Mygdonia. History – Geography - Culture. Thessaloniki. 333 pp.

Papastergiadou, Eva. 1990. Phytosociological and ecological study of aquatic macrophytes (aquatic plants) in northern Greece. Doctoral thesis. Biology Unit University of Thessaloniki. 266 pp. (In Greek, English summary)

Sakoulis Á. and Å. Bourdakis. 1998. Evaluation of the trends of avifauna populations in Greek Ramsar wetlands (a first approach). Hellenic Ornithological Society, Athens.

Samanidou, V. and K. Fytianos. 1987. Partitioning of heavy metals into selective chemical fractions in sediments from rivers in northern Greece. The Science of the Total Environment 67: 279 -285.

Samanidou, Â. 1990. Study of the distribution of the re-dilution of heavy metals in water and sediments of rivers in northern Greece. Doctoral thesis. School of Chemistry, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Topiotechniki. 1992. Study for the delineation and management of the Axios-Loudias-Aliakmon delta and Aliki Kitrous. Athens. (In Greek)

Tsakiri, Å., D. Babalonas and Eva Papastergiadou. 1994. Study of the development condions of the aquatic fern Azolla filicylloides Lam. in the Axios delta (Kavouria stream). Proceedings of the 5th Scientific Conference of the Greek Botanical Society. Delphi. October 1994.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece), Hellenic Ornithological Society and Society for the Protection of Prespa. 1998. LIFE project "Protection of the Pygmy Cormorant and the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Greece" (Contract number Â4 – 3200/96/499). Progress report. (Axios – Loudias – Aliakmon delta: pp. 83 – 108)

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece). 1997. Actions to improve the feeding- resting habitat of the Pygmy Cormorant in the area of river Axios. Thessaloniki. Two volumes + annexes. Thessaloniki.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Greece). 1998. Comments concerning the Ramsar Information Sheets (RISs) for the 10 Greek Ramsar wetlands (unpublished documents).

Zalidis C. G. and A. L. Mantzavelas (eds). 1996. Inventory on Greek wetlands as natural resources (First approximation). Greek Biotope/Wetland Center (EKBY). English edition. xvi + 448pp.

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