Greece, National Strategy for Wetland Resources

[This is a reprint of the English version of the Greek National Strategy for Wetland Resources (October 1999), as provided to the Ramsar Bureau for this purpose by the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning, and Public Works.  -- Ramsar Web Editor.]

MINISTRY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, PHYSICAL PLANNING AND PUBLIC WORKS

ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING DIVISION

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT SECTION

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 NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR WETLAND RESOURCES

2. NATIONAL STRATEGY OBJECTIVES

2.1. General objective of the national strategy for wetland resources

The general objective of the strategy is:

To achieve conservation and rehabilitatation of all functions and values of the wetland resources of Greece as a contribution to the sustainable development of the country.

2.2 Specific objectives

The above general objective is analysed into specific objectives as follows:

    1. Designation of the most important wetlands of the country as protected areas and their management
    2. Prevention of wetland degradation reslulting from projects and activities
    3. Implementation of sustainable management practices in all wetlands of the country – rehabilitation and restoration of wetlands
    4. Sustainable management of water resources in the hydrological basins of wetlands and in small islands
    5. Promotion of scientific research on wetland management and dissemination of research results
    6. Investigation and application of economic incentives for the conservation of wetlands
    7. Monitoring of important parameters for wetland management - inventory
    8. Information, environmental education and awareness about wetlands
    9. International co-operation in topics of wetland resources management

3. ACTIONS REQUIRED AT A NATIONAL LEVEL TO FULFILL THE OBJECTIVES

The actions foreseen by this strategy concern all Greek wetlands. However, priorities shall be set when implementation begins. Thus, priority shall be given to wetlands of international importance, then to the other important wetlands included in the NATURA 2000 Network and finally to the rest of the wetlands. The first action that should be undertaken for this last group of wetlands is their delineation.

Two degrees of priority are given to the actions foreseen by this strategy: immediate (I) or medium-term (?). In many cases, it is not easy to attribute one or the other degree of priority. In this case, actions are characterised as I-M. However, it should be made clear that the conservation of all the country’s wetlands is urgent. Within the framework of nature conservation policy, all actions are of highest priority.

3.1. Specific objective 1: Dessignation of the most important wetlands of the country as protected areas and their management

Necessity and expected benefits: The country’s moral and legal obligation to protect wetland ecosystems, which it has itself suggested to the Greek, European and international community as being ecologically important and in need of protection and specific management, is justified. The institution of protected areas and all parallel – ensuing procedures (establishment of management bodies, training of those interested, elaboration and adoption of management plans, limitations or change in localisation of human activities, provision of incentives for sustainable practices etc), through procedures of participation and considering the needs of local communities, constitute very important steps towards the conservation and sustainable management of wetland ecosystems.

Required actions:

1. Determination of special evaluation criteria for wetland areas by adapting existing criteria (e.g. Ramsar Convention, NATURA 2000 Network, IUCN), so as to set priorities for their dessignation as protected areas and for classifying them into the various categories of protected areas. Scheduling of procedures required for institutionalisation (I), according to priorities

2. Prepare the ground for legal protection of important wetlands whose ecological value is insufficiently documented (I).

3. Implementation of measures and regulations that are determined by legislative acts (JMD or PD) (I).

4. Elaboration of management plans (including those related to the management of monitoring programmes) for all important wetlands in accordance with the specifications set by the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works (I).

5. Promotion and initiation of the implementation of measures that are determined in approved management plans, through the ratification of necessary legislative regulations and the necessary inter-service and intra-service administrative arrangements (I).

6. Increase human resources and improve the technical infrastructure of the Information Centres of the Ministry of Environment, which operate in protected wetlands and establishment of new ones wherever deemed necessary (I-M).

7. Implementation of monitoring programmes for a. selected biotic or/and abiotic parameters, using methods and applying the periodicity determined by experts for each area, according to the objectives of monitoring and b. the threats for each protected wetland (I).

8. Elaboration of national action plans for threatened wetland species, considering the broader plans of action for endangered species. These plans will be updated and reviewed at regular intervals (M).

9. Creation, staffing and equipment of co-ordination bodies for the management of wetlands, of local or regional range (I).

10. Implementation of theoretical and technical training programmes for managers of management co-ordination bodies and all those who are to be involved in the application of management and monitoring measures (I).

11. Establishment of mechanisms to facilitate communication between those involved in wetland management (management co-ordination bodies, local bodies, interested social groups) and environmental NGOs and the public, on matters that concern the design and the implementation of management measures (I-M).

12. Scientific and technical support for monitoring actions in wetlands in which management co-ordination bodies have been set up or are about to commence operation, by advising those involved about the priorities for each region, providing relevant documentation and organising training programmes in management and monitoring techniques.(I), e.g.

    12a. Organisation of training programmes and supply of necessary equipment to the personnel of the Information Centres of protected wetlands, in order for them to carry out management and monitoring actions (or to aid in their implementation) in their areas, within the framework of management of these areas

    12b. Organisation of training programmes for foresters and other guarding personnel so that they may help in monitoring selected parameters in the field, while at the same time carrying out their other duties

13. Use of financial means and new scientific and technological findings for the elaboration of pilot application projects for sustainable management measures for wetland resources (I).

14. Use of models of the evolution of important wetlands (that are the product of research) (M) for the elaboration and implementation of management plans for wetland areas (M).

15. Establishment of a national committee for wetlands (within the framework of the wider committee for the ecologically important areas of Greece) and determination of the way in which it will function (I).

3.2. Specific objective 2: Prevention of wetland degradation resulting from projects and activities

Necessity and expected benefits: Wetlands are dynamic systems and therefore, their evolution is affected both by natural and (especially) human activities (drainage, embankment and diversion of rivers, construction of dams, clearing-deforestation, non-sustainable agricultural, farming, fishing and aquaculture practices etc.). The deeper causes of these changes in the past are, of course, due to short-sighted, non-integrated policies that were in force for many decades. Efforts to integrate the environmental dimension in all policies have commenced but are proceeding at a slow pace and encounter many obstacles. Monitoring threats to wetlands, the objective being early identification or prevention of adverse natural processes or (more often) human activities, is of crucial importance for the prevention of further degradation (2). Monitoring of dangers that threaten wetlands should be carried out in the field (where changes are observed and adverse actions are identified) and at the planning level of human activities. Due to the lack of resources, monitoring of threats at the decision-making and planning level should be preferred however difficult this may be. When changes are observed in the field it is often too late for any important remedial intervention (10). Moreover, the monitoring of threats completes the monitoring of biotic and abiotic elements in each wetland and provides a better understanding of recorded changes.

Required actions:

1. Implementation of a programme for monitoring threats to selected wetlands, and inventory of threats (I):

1a. during the policy formulation and decision-making phase (examples of parameters: progress of socio-economic policies, effectiveness of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure, allocation of budgets to central and local services, drafting of work programmes for services responsible for environmental planning)

1b. during the field implementation phase, causes and results, with particular attention to development activities, of selected environmental parameters and for indicative ecological changes

1c. continuous monitoring of the results of development activities and the results of monitoring during phases 1a. and 1b. (see above), in order to determine the necessary offset measures.

2a. Creation and periodic updating of archives, at the Regional level (and Local Government in the cases that very important wetlands are situated within its administrative limits), composed of studies, unpublished reports, bibliography and other information material about wetlands (or natural areas in general) situated within the administrative boundaries of the Region or the Prefecture (I-M).

2b. Drafting and updating a mailing list for recipients of relevant information, bibliography, unpublished reports and other material, by administrative Region and perhaps by Prefecture (I-M).

2c. Informing all interested services about the existence of studies, etc. archives (I-M).

3. Support institutions that deal with wetland matters so that they may be able to contribute as much as possible to the protection of wetlands, including the identification of dangers and the prevention of degradation (I-M)

4. Organisation of training and further education programmes for high-rank staff of civil services involved in the management of wetlands, on wetland sustainable management issues (I).

5. Organisation of special training programmes on environmental impact assessment methods and evaluation of Environmental Impact Statements for the staff of Regional and Prefectural services, who are responsible for assessing EIA that concern wetland and other natural areas (I).

6. Organisation of training programmes for users of wetland resources, on sustainable use issues, at a theoretical level, and provision of special knowledge about the implementation of sustainable practices. Sustainable agriculture in the hydrological basins of important wetlands and saving of irrigation water should be considered as a first priority (I).

7. Organisation of training programmes and provision of necessary equipment to the personnel of the Information Centres of the protected wetlands, responsible foresters or other guards, and to environmental NGOs, in order for them to carry out threat monitoring actions (or to help in their implementation) in their areas of competence and within the framework of management of these areas.

8. For development plans that concern hydroelectric, irrigation and flood prevention projects, ensure a. sufficient information about the necessity of the projects, b. minimum supply of water and water quality for the conservation of downstream ecosystems, especially delta ecosystems, c. appropriate supply of trasnported material that is necessary for the conservation of the structure of downstream ecosystems and d. free upstream movement of species of fish (I)

9. Ensuring correct evaluation of the environmental impact of projects that affect wetlands and reliable evaluation of relevant Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) (I).

10. Adoption of conclusions that ensue from the operation of the institution of EIA as regards the cumulative effects on wetlands of development projects and activities, for drafting management plans for wetland areas and issuing environmental terms upon approval of the EIA (I).

11. Monitoring of the degree to which, the adoption of imposed environmental terms is supervised, during construction and operation of development projects that have been approved by EIA, by setting up an INSPECTORATE (I).

12. Broad diffusion (to those involved in the management of wetlands, social groups, the public and environmental NGOs), of a printed guide on the legal protection of wetlands, presenting in a simple way the manner in which existing legal tools for the protection of wetlands are used, including tools that are not covered by specific PDs or JMDs (I).

3.3. Specific objective 3: Implementation of sustainable management practices in all wetlands of the country – rehabilitation and restoration of wetlands

Necessity and expected benefits: Wetlands are one of the most threatened ecosystems, particularly in geographical regions where water is a scarce resource, such as the Mediterranean. Moreover, they are sources of remarkable biodiversity, which our country has committed itself to protect. Upon signature of the Ramsar Convention, our country undertook the commitment to manage all wetlands existing on its territory, and not only those that Greece has included on the list of wetlands of international importance, in a sustainable way. This commitment is reinforced by national legislation and related community acts. Moreover, the creation of artificial wetlands and the rehabilitation and restoration of wetland functions* counterbalance, to some degree, their continuous loss and degradation due to human intervention, and at the same time they represent a model of positive interaction between Man and the natural environment (25). These types of undertakings greatly promote scientific knowledge and at the same time offer excellent opportunities for the implementation of monitoring and public awareness programmes, environmental education, training on technical matters, scientific research, socio-economic case studies, re-allocation of land and change in land-use, change of crop patterns, Regulation 2078/92 programmes, sustainable management pilot projects and supra-national co-operation.

Necessary actions:

1. Creation, staffing and equipment for wetland management co-ordination bodies, with local or regional competence (I).

2. Implementation of theoretical and technical training programmes for the personnel of management co-ordination bodies, and for all those who are to be involved in the implementation of management and monitoring measures (I).

3. Establishment of schemes and routes for facilitating communication between those involved in the management of wetlands (management co-ordination bodies, local actors, interested social groups), environmental NGOs and the public, on issues that concern the design and implementation of management measures (I-M).

4. Support of institutions that are involved in wetland matters so that they may contribute as much as possible to the sustainable management of wetlands (I-M)

5. Organisation of training programmes for foresters and other guarding personnel so that they may assist in the monitoring of threats and other parameters in the field, at the same time as practising their other duties (I-M)

6. Promotion of co-operation between Local Government bodies, Regions, environmental NGOs, development agencies, educational institutions, for carrying out training programmes on the sustainable management of wetlands (M).

7. Training of active members of environmental NGOs on the implementation of activities that are necessary for the management and monitoring of wetlands (M).

8. Scientific and technical support for Local Government and the Regions, for their participation in EU programmes (drafting of proposals, co-ordination and supervision) that concern the sustainable management of wetland resources (I-M).

9. Management and development planning for water resources at the hydrological basin and the water district level, taking into account the zoning of uses/protection and appropriate management measures for wetlands existing within them (I).

10. Integration of the concept of terrestrial ecosystem quality of the hydrological basins in the rationale of sustainable management of wetland resources. This concept includes the protection of biodiversity in the soil and above it, the environment (water and air) and the quality of life for people and animals.

11. Use of models on the evolution of important wetlands (that are the result of research) in the elaboration and implementation of management plans for wetland areas (M).

12. Recording and evaluation of measures that are unfavourable for wetlands (institutional, administrative, economic etc.), which are scattered throughout environmental legislation and their improvement. Institutionalisation of the obligation to remedy ecological damage to wetland areas by whoever causes the damage (I).

13. Elaboration of feasibility studies for the creation, rehabilitation or restoration of wetland functions for which a relevant request is made by the local society or those for which the State decides that it is necessary that they be re-created, due to their important ecological values (I).

14. Elaboration of necessary studies (pre-approval of location, Environmental Impact Assessment) for selected sites where projects are to be implemented (I).

15. Elaboration of final studies for each case, with compulsory provision for monitoring parameters that are necessary for the evaluation of the success of the project and the accuracy of initial planning. Monitoring should start at the design stage of the project, which should be sufficiently flexible in order to allow for adjustments indicated by monitoring (I-M).

16. Examination of possible ways of financing the relevant studies and projects and submission of relevant proposals by Local Government services and bodies, within the framework of related financial instruments (I-M).

17. Integration of plans for the creation, rehabilitation and restoration of wetland functions in broader local or regional sustainable management plans, compatible with other strategic protection and wise management of natural resources frameworks, such as e.g. the NATURA 2000 Network, Regulation 2078/92 (I-M).

18. Combination of cases of rehabilitation and restoration with the redistribution and change in land-use in peripheral zones, the objective being sustainable management and Regulation 2078/92 application projects in the corresponding hydrological basins (I-M).

19. Maximum exploitation of all cases of creation, rehabilitation and restoration, through extensive scientific research and surveying, monitoring programmes, elaboration of relevant post-graduate dissertations and doctoral theses, environmental education programmes, promotion through the Mass Media, public information and awareness programmes and other actions that can help to protect the wetlands in general (M).

20. Exploitation of the conclusions of research (and pilot application programmes) concerning the preconditions and specifications for the rehabilitation, restoration and creation of wetlands, in corresponding implementation programmes for such projects (I).

21. Establishment of a national committee for wetlands (within the framework of the broader committee for ecologically important areas of Greece) and determination of the way in which it shall operate (I).

3.4. Specific objective 4: Integrated management of water resources in the hydrological basins of wetlands and in small islands

Necessity and expected benefits: International experience has shown that sustainable management of wetlands and long-term protection is possible only through their consideration at the level of the hydrological basin and not within the narrow limits of purely wetland or adjacent territory. All human activities and interventions within the hydrological basin of each wetland (primary production activities, housing and tourist development, road works etc) affect its natural functions and its qualitative and quantitative features. Therefore, only an integrated and general view and management of these activities can protect them. For small islands, in particular, in which there is usually a shortage of water during the summer months, management of valuable water resources (which in this case refers to the entire island) should be designed and implemented with particular care. This is so, because their ecological importance is remarkable and the economic viability of local human populations is of great national importance.

Necessary actions:

1. Organisation, institutionalisation and staffing of management agencies for water resources at the water district level, throughout the territory. These agencies should be capable to intervene substantially and act in the field, e.g. monitoring of water quality and quantity, and shall function within the framework of implementation of the new national policy for water resources that is being formulated, which in turn shall be based on the EU Water Framework Directive (I-M).

2. Co-operation between all water management structures or agencies, current or future, and management bodies for protected areas, the objective being greatest possible integration of the ecological factor in water management (I-M).

3. Support institutions that deal with wetland issues and island ecosystems so that they may contribute as much as possible to sustainable management (I-M)

4. Organisation of training programmes for users of water resources in the hydrological basin, on issues of sustainable water management, at a theoretical and practical level. (I).

5. Management and development planning for water resources at the hydrological basin and the water district level, considering the zoning of uses-protection and required management measures for wetlands situated in them (I).

6. Definition of special zones with specific special management for each one, the objective being at the same time restoration of wetland functions (e.g. improvement of water quality, reduction of brought materials etc), in whichever wetlands this is deemed suitable or necessary (M).

7. Ensuring minimum water requirements for the conservation of wetlands by exploiting information that ensues from the evaluation of the water balance at the hydrological basin level and by adapting water consumption accordingly (I).

8. Estimation of the availability of water in small islands and plan its use in relation to the needs of the population during the year and particularly during the tourist period, with particular attention to availability limits (I).

9. Saving of water resources and replenishment of underground aquifers of small islands through special works, e.g. small lake-reservoirs on sites that have a suitable geological or artificial substrate for the retention of water (I).

10. Planning and control of drilling in order to avoid the degradation of water quality due to salinisation (I).

3.5. Specific objective 5: Promotion of scientific research on wetland management and dissemination of research results

Necessity and expected benefits: Current scientific and technical knowledge about wetlands covers the various ecological issues and wetland functions to different degrees. However, wetland issues are complex by nature and knowledge about the multiple interactions of biotic and abiotic elements of wetland ecosystems and their results on the quality of wetlands is absolutely necessary. Moreover, further scientific knowledge in relatively new fields, such as general and economic appraisal of wetland values, the evaluation of social parameters that affect management, the prerequisites and the specifications for rehabilitation, restoration or creation of wetlands and monitoring is necessary. An interdisciplinary approach and the enrichment of scientific and technical knowledge will provide valuable tools for management practices employed currently in wetlands, and ensure the fulfilment of the other objectives of this strategy.

Scientific and technical knowledge in the form of Greek or foreign language material (in printed or electronic form), concerning the functions and the management of wetlands should reach those who need it, to the extent, the quantity and the form necessary. People who need such information are primarily civil service officials or those of other bodies who are involved in the management of wetlands and secondly the users of wetland resources and their hydrological basins. This means that in certain cases there will be a need for the necessary equipment and training of personnel, which is to use the information. The organisation, within and between services that are responsible for wetlands, of a systematic mechanism for diffusing information and knowledge together with a feedback system would improve greatly the flow of knowledge and information to the benefit of the sustainable management of wetlands.

Required actions:

1. Research and application programmes on the sustainable management of wetlands and the resources of their hydrological basins (I).

The following subjects are mentioned as an example (23):

  • Wetland hydrology (fluctuation of the water level, water balance, rate of water renewal, frequency of extreme conditions, water quality, creation of models for water resources at the hydrological basin or water district level)
  • Soil studies in the wider wetland areas (detailed inventory of wetland soils, evaluation of conditions in wetland hydrological basins, relationships between hydrological conditions and soil processes) and soil ecology
  • Wetland vegetation (qualitative and quantitative inventory of vegetation, use of aquatic vegetation a. by fish, terrestrial wild vertebrates and grazing farm animals and b. for the retention of pollutants from the hydrological basin, management of reed beds)
  • Production of agricultural plants (detailed mapping of agricultural land neighbouring wetlands, relationships between rural and wetland ecosystems)
  • Rearing of farm animals (evaluation of pasture activities, grazing capacity of Greek wetlands, effect of grazing on wetland functions, possibilities to preserve genetic material, use of farm animals as a means for managing wetland vegetation)
  • Fisheries (colonisation of coastal lagoons by juvenile fish, breeding period of commercial species, identification of threatened species, mapping of their territory and evaluation of threats)
  • Culture (architectural heritage, traditional vessels and fishing tools and production techniques, history and folklore of wetland areas, traditional wetland managemnt techniques)
  • Tertiary sector (evaluation of foreign experience, trends as regards the presence of visitors, mechanisms for controlling the number of visits and other activities)
  • Ecological requirements (water) of types of ecosystems throughout the year
  • Relationship of these requirements with available water resources and activities practised (agriculture, farming, fishing)
  • Particular ecological requirements of Directive 92/43 wetland habitats and species
  • Particular ecological requirements for the conservation of coastal and island ecosystems, those of inland lakes and birds of Directive 79/409
  • Biodiversity of wetland areas (species, populations, spatial location, use of habitats) and their value for Man

2. Study of natural processes that alter wetland ecosystems (riverbed erosion, sedimentation, eutrophication), determination of consequences on - a. the abiotic and biotic part of the wetland systems and b. the local and broader society and economy - through case studies chosen according to how representative and how important the type of wetland is (M).

3. Elaboration of models of the natural evolution of important wetlands through time(M).

4. Support of institutions that are involved in research on wetland issues so that they may contribute as much as possible to filling the gaps in scientific knowledge on the particular subjects (I-M)

5. Creation of a basis for monitoring wetlands (inventory of basic data, determination of the reaction of biological indicators to environmental distress parameters, evaluation of results through experimental application of monitoring methods, etc.) (I).

6. Determination of long-term and cumulative impact on wetlands from development projects and activities, through the process of EIA (I).

7. Exploitation of management, rehabilitation, restoration plans and plans for the creation of wetlands, in research projects (M).

8. Research on the prerequisites and the specifications and the acquisition of knowledge regarding the rehabilitation, restoration and creation of wetlands (I).

9. Maximum exploitation of all cases of creation, rehabilitation and restoration, through extensive scientific and case studies, monitoring programmes, post-graduate dissertations and doctoral theses, environmental education programmes, promotion by the Mass Media, public information and awareness campaigns and other actions that assist in the protection of wetlands in general (M).

10. Use of methods to evaluate economic and social parameters that are determining for the protection of wetland areas in surveys and case studies (I).

11. Incorporation of courses on ecology and management of wetlands in undergraduate and postgraduate courses of relevant University Faculties and updating-improvement of existing ones (I-M).

12. Organisation of special training programmes on methods of environmental impact assessment and evaluation of EIA studies for the personnel of services that are responsible for judging EIAs that concern wetland areas and other natural areas (I).

13. Organisation of training and further education programmes for civil service personnel that is involved in the management of wetlands, on issues of sustainable management of wetlands (I).

14. Organisation of training programmes for users of wetland resources, on issues of sustainable management, at a theoretical level and by providing special knowledge about the application of sustainable practices. Sustainable agriculture in the hydrological basins of important wetlands and saving of irrigation water should be considered as first priority (I).

15. Scientific and technical support for monitoring actions in wetlands in which management co-ordination bodies have been or will be set up, by advising those involved about the priorities in each region, provision of relevant documentation and organisation of training programmes on management and monitoring techniques (I), e.g.

15a. Organisation of training programmes and provision of necessary equipment to the personnel of the Information Centres of protected areas so that they may implement management and monitoring actions (or assist in their implementation) in their areas of responsibility, within the framework of managing these areas

15b. Organisation of training programmes for foresters and other guarding personnel so that they may assist in the monitoring of selected parameters in the field at the same time as exercising their other duties

16. Organisation of working meetings and training programmes in order to address scientific issues and problems that concern specific cases of creation, rehabilitation and restoration of wetland functions, with the participation of specialised scientists and administrative bodies (M).

17. Review of existing scientific knowledge and know-how on matters of creation, rehabilitation and restoration of wetlands in order to select Greek language material (in printed or electronic form) that should be forwarded to specific recipients, as a rule the personnel of services that are responsible for wetlands (I-M).

18. Collection, filing and diffusion of current international literature and unpublished reports concerning cases of management, rehabilitation, restoration and creation of wetlands, selection of foreign language material, reproduction and dispatch to recipients who are in a position to exploit the material (M).

19. Translation of foreign language material (such as e.g. a. the Wise Use Guidelines, b. Management Planning Guidelines, c. definitions of the ecological character of wetlands and of its change, (as determined by the Ramsar Convention), publication in Greek of selected items, and dispatch to those interested (I-M).

20. Connection to the Internet of as many competent public services as possible (at central, regional and local level) and training of personnel on its use for inter-service communication, the search for information and bibliography (M).

3.6. Specific objective 6: Study and use of economic incentives for the conservation of wetlands

Necessity and expected benefits: Currently, Greek rural areas are afflicted by high unemployment and it is difficult to maintain the population in these areas. The average age of this population is high. On the contrary, large urban centres are growing continuously with all the known adverse consequences. For these reasons, measures to provide economic incentives and improve the quality of life in rural areas will encourage young people in particular to remain in rural areas or to move to them. Wetlands and their peripheral zones in the corresponding hydrological basins support production activities of the primary sector: farming, fishing and aquaculture. Effective support of the sustainable practice of these activities and others that are compatible with protection activities (e.g. eco-tourism) perhaps will have a dual positive result. On the one hand it will contribute to the sustainability of the wetland system in general and on the other hand it will create a local renewed or totally new employment opportunity. This is particularly important because it is now fully acceptable that the conservation of human resources contributes to the conservation of wetland resources in a decisive way. In the wider areas of wetlands, development should be compatible with protection. Special financial provisions, i.e. by providing alternative sources of income should offset any losses of income for specific social groups resulting from the application of regulatory provisions.

Required actions:

1. Examination of all possible ways in which the agri-environmental Regulation 2078/92/EC on environmentally friendly agriculture, and the relevant regulations that are being drafted, can contribute to the fulfilment of the above specific objective (I).

2. Acceleration of the application of Regulation 2078/92/EC and priority to the peripheral zones of important wetlands for the application of Regulation 2078/92/EC (I).

3. Promotion and support (financial, through training programmers for farmers and information about the sale of products) for practising environmentally friendly agriculture near wetlands and in the wider hydrological basin (I-M).

4. Information and awareness campaigns-programmes on the need to conserve wetland values, oriented towards the creation or increase of the market for environmentally friendly agricultural products and other local products (I-M).

5. Promotion of environmentally friendly eco-tourism companies –activities in wetland areas or areas neighbouring on wetlands and provision of correct guidance and training to individuals or legal entities who wish to be involved in these activities (I-M).

6. Promotion and support (financial and through information and awareness programmes, and training of fishermen and aquaculturers) of sustainable fishery and aquaculture practices in wetlands (I-M).

7. Promotion of sustainable farming practices in the hydrological basins of important wetlands following the elaboration of relevant studies (I-M).

8. European market research for enterprises-activities related to scientific and outdoor tourism in wetland areas with important biodiversity or particular biotic features e.g. in areas with rare species of birds and other species of animals, rare and endemic species of plants, interesting plant communities (M).

9. Examination of ways in which to finance and support financially local traditional agricultural, fishing and aquaculture practices, and the production and promotion of local products (textiles, wood carving, objects and furniture made of rattan and bamboo, ceramics, food, pastries, drinks) in the local and wider market (M).

10. Use of methods to evaluate the economic and social parameters that are determining for the protection of wetland areas in development studies and programmes that concern wetlands (I).

11. Exploitation of financial instruments and new scientific and technological findings for the elaboration of pilot programmes in order to apply sustainable management measures for wetland resources (I).

3.7. Specific objective 7: Monitoring of important parameters for wetland management - inventory

Necessity and expected benefits: Monitoring is an integral tool of any properly prepared management plan for a protected area. Monitoring provides a feedback to the management plan and it is a guide for amendments aimed at coming closer to the achievement of ideal management objectives. A monitoring programme should be designed according to specific logical steps. The determination of its objective plays a crucial role because data that is collected without a strictly determined objective does not serve any management objective and cannot contribute to the improvement of management. Correct selection of parameters or indicators (physical, chemical, biological, others) to be monitored can contribute to an economic appraisal and continuous improvement of the management of an area (2).

A wetland inventory constitutes the first and basic step for the protection of wetlands because it offers the most important basis of information at a national level, as regards the number, the area, the type, the situation in which wetlands are and decision-making in the field of environment and development. On the other hand, periodic updating offers a valuable picture of the evolution of wetlands through time.

Required actions:

1. Establishment of a basis for monitoring wetlands (recording of basic data, determination of the response of bio-indicators to environmental stress parameters, evaluation of results obtained from the experimental application of monitoring methods) (I).

2. Implementation of monitoring programmes for selected biotic and abiotic parameters using methods and a periodicity that have been determined in accordance with the special monitoring requirements of each area (I).

3. Implementation of monitoring programmes for avifauna given that it constitutes an important indicator of the situation of the wetlands that host it (I).

4. In-depth study of the possibilities of using Geographical Information Systems and remote sensing for managing wetland resources and use of these possibilities for the management and monitoring of wetlands (I-M).

5. Scientific and technical support for monitoring actions in wetlands in which management co-ordination bodies have been set up or are to be set up, by advising involved persons about the priorities for each area, provision of relevant documentation and organisation of training programmes in management and monitoring techniques (I), e.g.

    5a. Organisation of training programmes and provision of necessary equipment to the personnel of the Information Centres of protected areas so that they may implement management and monitoring actions (or assist in their implementation) in their areas of responsibility, within the framework of area management (I).

    5b. Organisation of training programmes for foresters and other guarding personnel so that they may assist in the monitoring of selected parameters in the field at the same time as practising their other duties (I-M).

6. Co-operation among and co-ordination of all services and bodies that in one or the other way are responsible for monitoring wetlands or particular wetland features in order to ensure maximum possible exploitation of the information that monitoring offers (I).

7. Support institutions that deal with wetland matters so that they might contribute as much as possible to the sustainable management of wetlands, in particular in the areas of monitoring and inventorying (I-M)

8. Monitoring of the degree to which imposed environmental terms are adopted, during the construction and operation of development projects that have been approved by EIA, through the selection and monitoring of special indicators (I).

9a. Creation and periodic updating of archives, at the Regional level (and that of the Prefecture and Local Government if very important wetlands are situated within their administrative boundaries), containing studies, unpublished reports, bibliography and other information material on wetlands (or natural areas in general) situated within the administrative boundaries of the Region or the Prefecture (I-M).

9b. Drafting and maintenance of an up to date mailing list for recipients of relevant information, bibliography, unpublished studies and other material, by Region and perhaps Prefecture (I-M).

9c. Notification to all interested services and other parties about the existence of archives (I-M).

10. Second approach to the Greek wetlands inventory (M).

3.8. Specific objective 8: Information, environmental education and awareness about wetlands

Necessity and expected benefits: Increased information, education and awareness campaigns for the public and specific social groups (IEPA) as regards the values of wetlands and the dangers that threaten them is considered as a necessary element for their protecting. Public support and understanding of wetland values by decision-makers is a necessary prerequisite for mobilising policy making and legislative activity related to the protection of wetlands. It is also necessary for ensuring financial resources, the effective application of legislation on wetlands and their sustainable management. Moreover, more than 150 non-profit environmental NGOs in our country, with very different structures and operation, are working for the protection of Greek nature. These organisations have contributed, especially during the past 10 years, to the protection of natural ecosystems. With suitable support, their role in IEPA can be reinforced. Investment in IEPA actions for small children and young people is perhaps long-term but it is certainly the most promising option for the future, because the human mind and soul are more sensitive and receptive at these ages. The production of relevant material for the following actions is self-evident.

Required actions:

1. Study of the requirements in the area of information, education and awareness (IEPA) on wetland issues, determination of the objectives of IEPA activities (programmes) and determination of target groups at all levels. Evaluation should be foreseen at the programme planning stage (I-M).

2. Recording and evaluation of information and public awareness activities (and related material) regarding wetlands that have been carried out until now in order to select or apply successful approaches and exploit existing material after it has been adapted to special conditions (I).

3. Creation of standard educational material for wetlands, to be adapted according to the various target groups (I).

4. Organisation of public information and awareness campaigns for certain social groups and managers (of identified target groups) at a local, regional level, in accordance with the method that was developed during the 1st phase of the MedWet initiative for Mediterranean wetlands or through other successful approaches (I-M).

5. Organisation of IEPA programmes about wetlands for the personnel of the Ministry for Education, the Ministry for Environment and the Ministry for Agriculture that is responsible for the evaluation and approval of IEPA project proposals (I).

6. Organisation of IEPA programmes about wetlands for the primary and secondary education teaching community: directors, teachers and professors, pupils and school advisors (I-M).

7. Support of Environmental Education Centres in the design and implementation of IEPA programmes for the wetlands for which they are responsible, and other information Centres that have been set up in various places, through community or other programmes (M).

8. Support of the efforts made by active environmental NGOs in the field of IEPA and training of members in the organisation of related activities (M).

9. Support institutions that deal with wetland matters so that they may offer as much as possible to the protection of wetlands, including IEPA activities or scientific and technical support for related activities that are being carried out by other bodies (I-M)

10. Organisation of meetings and workshops, within the framework of organised campaigns for important wetlands, for the promotion and discussion on positive elements, values, actions, etc or problems (M).

11. Promotion of co-operation between Local Government bodies, Regions, environmental NGOs, development bodies, educational establishments, for carrying out IEPA programmes on wetlands (M).

12. Development of co-operation between the above bodies and museums, zoos and botanical gardens, aquaria, animal care centres in order to organise exhibitions and programmes that contribute to IEPA on wetlands and their biodiversity (M).

13. Organisation of international IEPA programmes for trans-frontier wetlands (I-M).

3.9 Specific objective 9: International co-operation in topics of wetland resources management

Necessity and expected benefits: The international convention on wetlands (Ramsar Convention) may be broadly considered as international co-operation on wetland management and protection issues. The same applies to conventions that include wetland protection in their objectives (Convention on Biological Diversity, Barcelona Convention, Bern Convention, Bonn Convention), related EU Directives (79/409/EC and 92/43/EC), trans-frontier initiatives developed within the framework of relevant financial instruments (e.g. INTEREG), and co-operation among various countries within the framework of European Union programmes (e.g. MedWet), international organisations or other bodies that deal with issues of wise management and protection of wetlands or other natural areas. Countries that have signed the Conventions or that are obliged to comply with Community Directives are in fact working within a common framework for the fulfilment of the same objectives whereas certain international conventions develop protocols of co-operation (e.g. Ramsar Convention or Convention on Biological Diversity). For Greece, international and supra-national co-operation on wetland management and protection issues is of paramount importance because, on the one hand, our country can benefit substantially from the exchange of knowledge and experience with other countries on the said subjects, and on the other hand, it hosts quite a few trans-frontier rivers and part of lakes Megali Prespa, Mikri Prespa and Doirani. Moreover, given the important number of migratory species of avifauna that spend a certain part of their life in our country, international co-operation such as the aforementioned conventions is likely to play a primary role in their protection.

Required actions:

1. Establishment of a national committee for wetlands (within the framework of the broader committee for ecologically important areas of Greece) and determination of its function and actions, including co-operation with other international conventions or Community Directives (I).

2. Planning and co-ordinated implementation of activities for the fulfilment of the Ramsar Convention and the 1997-2002 Ramsar Strategic Plan objectives, in co-operation with other contracting parties to the Convention (I).

3. Consultation with neighbouring countries in order to co-operate for the rational management of water resources and trans-frontier wetlands (e.g. through the ratification of official bi-lateral or multi-lateral agreements on protection measures (I).

4. Co-operation of EKBY and other organisations and institutions with international organisations that have similar orientations (Wetlands International, WWF, IUCN, Birdlife International) and other similar institutions of other countries, at a scientific level, in order to tackle management problems through the utilisation of their experience (I-M).

5. Development of co-operation among Greek institutions, wetland management/conservation centres particularly in the Mediterranean, for a single and co-ordinated confrontation of similar management problems in this geographical area (I-M).

6. Participation of Greece in EU or international programmes (e.g. IUCN), which include exchanges of experience or wetland protection actions (M).

7. Organisation of international IEPA programmes for trans-frontier wetlands (I-M).


4. POSITIVE STEPS TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION OF WETLANDS

Many of the suggested actions are already under various stages of implementation. This is very promising, as the implementation of this strategy will not have to start from zero.

4.1. Formulation and adoption of national policies related to wetlands

In chapter 1.3.1. the main points of national policies related to wetlands were described. This description shows that efforts have started to integrate the sustainable use of natural resources and in particular water and wetlands in the development rationale.

Concerning international co-operation for the protection of the country’s trans-frontier wetland resources is, it is expected that the Environmental Protection Directorate set up recently by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs shall provide an impetus. This new service deals exclusively with the protection of natural resources by promoting actions that contribute to handling trans-frontier environmental problems. The Directorate has established a channel of communication with national NGOs, and has invited them to participate in an informal advisory forum.

4.2. Projects and actions to promote the protection of Greek wetlands

Specific actions in favour of the protection of wetlands that have begun during the current decade and are still running, are described below. This chapter is largeley based on bibliographic reference 14.

4.2.1. Delineation, submission of maps and temporary legal protection of wetlands of international importance

Final maps for all Greek wetlands of international importance have been sent to the Ramsar Secretariat. Moreover, for all wetlands except L. Volvi and Koronia and L. Mikri Prespa, Joint Ministerial Decisions (JMDs) have been signed between 1990 and until the end of 1998. Of course, L. Mikri Prespa, and the Evros Delta have been protected by Presidential Decree (PD) for a long time. JMDs set precise boundaries for the protected item in each area, determine zones corresponding to the various degrees of protection and describe permitted or prohibited activities, and the terms for practising permitted activities. JMD have a three-year duration. Within the framework of the "programme for confronting special environmental problems and system for operating and managing protected areas" that is being carried out by the 2nd CSF since 1996, Specific Management Studies (SMSs) have been drafted for the Ramsar areas that will result in draft PDs. Currently, draft PDs are ready for certain areas and draft PDs for the other areas are at the final stage. These draft PDs are to be forwarded to local communities and information campaigns will be organised at the same time so that they may be accepted more easily.

4.2.2. Wise use

4.2.2.1. Management plans – Specific Management Studies

As mentioned above, JMDs for Ramsar areas determine broad management orientations. Moreover, SMS whose structure is very similar to a management plan go as far as formulating the orientations of the management plan for each area. In other words, they describe and explain the necessity of specific projects, arrangements and, in general, any type of intervention (e.g. technical, economic, institutional etc). Specific operation and management regulations for protected areas (management orientations) will be integrated in the PDs that are being prepared. Thus, a management programme will be available upon issuance of the PDs. For highly mature management issues, the programme may be more specific and detailed. For issues that require further examination, the management programme shall foresee studies and other steps to be taken for specifying the relevant management measures. The Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works shall co-ordinate the drafting of detailed management plans.

Certain projects that have been carried out within the framework of the "programme for confronting special environmental problems and system for operating and managing protected areas", and that have been considered by local services and the central competent service of the Ministry of Environment as priorities, have started to be implemented under Programme Agreements (PA) that have been signed for all wetlands of international importance.

Within the framework of the 2nd CSF (Operational Programme: Environment or EPPER), SMSs for the other important wetland areas are at various stages. Examples are the ones for Lake Plastira, river Aherondas, river Kalamas and the Kalodikos swamp, Trizinia wetland, the coastal wetland of Vravrona-Schinias, the Moustos lagoon and the wetlands on the islands of Kefalonia, Limnos, Lesvos and Kos. Moreover, SMSs for the NATURA 2000 Network that include some wetland habitats, e.g. Lake Kaiafa and the broader coastal zone of the bay of Kiparissia and finally rehabilitation studies for lake Mavrouda.

4.2.2.2. Management bodies

As soon as the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works finalises the precise structure and operation of the management bodies for protected areas, based on the existing institutional framework, the relevant bodies will be established for areas of Greece that are important from an ecological point of view, including wetlands. These bodies, as far as wetlands of international importance are concerned, will be given a legal status through the expected PDs. Given the existence of an infrastructure (see 4.2.2.3.) and until Management Bodies have been established, Preliminary Management Schemes (PMS) have been set up in wetlands of international importance in the form of Joint Committees, through the Programme Agreements signed by the Ministers for the Environment and Agriculture, the Regions and Local Services. Joint Committees receive administrative and secretarial support from the corresponding Development Agencies. Environmental organisations are invited to participate in these schemes according to their specialisation. These schemes are preparing the ground for future local management bodies. Their objective is a. to deal immediately with matters that concern everyday management problems of the areas and b. to supervise the execution of projects related to infrastructure, monitoring and management. Moreover, they informally act as co-ordinators of various activities that are managed by the respective services. Specialised scientific personnel have staffed PMSs. The European Union (2nd CSF) covers the cost of operation of the initial phase. Upon commencement of the Programme Agreements (PA), PMSs monitor the implementation of PA projects, discuss the proposals of the Advisory Committee or other urgent matters concerning the management of wetlands. The Advisory Committee is constituted of representatives of user groups and meets twice or three times a year.

The problem of guarding wetlands of international importance remains a serious one due to an insufficient number of guards and necessary equipment. However, PMSs in all areas have hired "guards-eco-guides" since 1997. These guards are not responsible for arresting violators but their presence seems to act against illegal actions both in an anticipatory (through persuasion) and in a repressive way (through denunciation to state authorities). Awareness of the local population contributes to this. In many areas, this awareness has increased during the last years.

4.2.2.3. Information, monitoring and guarding infrastructure in important wetlands

Since 1922, Information Centres, guardhouses and watchtowers have been constructed and equipped (office equipment and equipment for environmental interpretation) with the help of various types of funding, in all wetlands of international importance. For each area, allowance has been made in the corresponding PA for the improvement of infrastructure and in particular equipment so that these units may become fully operational as centres for information activities, guided tours, eco-tourism etc. Construction problems (imperfections, damage) are also dealt with through PAs.

The construction of new Information Centres or the completion of existing ones and the implementation of other environmental interpretation projects are under way for the other important wetland areas mentioned in 4.2.2.1., mainly within the framework of the EPPER.

4.2.2.4. Protection actions through the implementation of Programme Agreements

These Agreements include a number of projects and activities and each wetland of international importance has a special timetable and budget. Projects that have been included in the PAs are being financed by the 2nd CSF mainly and other financial instruments. They are to be completed within the 1996-1999 four-year period. The various projects have reached various stages of execution.

The objects of the PA for each area are:

a. To promote procedures to establish the Protection and Promotion Association. Phase A’ (4 months’duration), foresaw for each of the areas, the establishment of a Protection and Promotion Association by the responsible local authorities. Upon its establishment, the association became the successor of local authorities and stands in for them as far as the rights and obligations that ensue from the PA are concerned. The Protection and Promotion Association is obliged to facilitate all contracting partners in fulfilling their obligations, to take all necessary actions for supplying extra equipment for the functioning of the infrastructure, to receive the existing infrastructure and equipment and to use it for the fulfilment of the objectives of the PA or to concede the equipment to another contracting partner, and finally, to hand over the infrastructure and equipment to the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works in good and operational condition.

b. Organisation of a conference in order to support the Association and issuance of the necessary supportive material.

c. Operation of the Information Centre as a point of reference and information on the functions-values of the area, as a mechanism for promoting information and awareness and as a mechanism for organising guided tours, eco-tourism and other special actions. In order to fulfil this objective, a series of actions, studies and projects are being carried out: i. support, co-operation, continuous information of competent bodies and identification of problems, ii. design and implementation of information and awareness projects for competent bodies and the public, iii. Design and implementation of projects to attract, receive, inform and guide visitors and special groups to the Information Centre and the protected area, iv. Organisation and operation of archives and a library, v. organisation of conferences, vi. publication of information material, production of video films and other audio-visual material for making presentations, and publication of a quaterly information bulletin, vii. Elaboration of special projects (study of projects to promote the areas, training of guards-guides and the personnel of the Information Centre, monitoring of environmental quality).

d. Design of a programme for guarding the area by the responsible forest authority (and the Local Government of Thessaloniki for lakes Koronia and Volvi).

It is clear (see paragraph c above) that particular importance has been given to information and awareness actions in general. The role that Information Centres have started to play as focal points for information and the co-ordination of actions appears to be remarkable. Moreover, a clear increase in environmental education activities has been noticed in these wetlands.

PAs involve Local Government in wetland management and protection issues and therefore the local societies that Local Government represents.

Apart from the wetlands of international importance, PAs with a similar structure and functioning have been signed for other important wetlands (see 4.2.2.1), in order to facilitate the implementation and monitoring of the corresponding SMSs, other infrastructure and management projects, and information-awareness activities that are under implementation or are being planned for these areas.

4.3. Removal of three wetlands of international importance from the Montreux Record of the Ramsar Convention

The Montreux Record that is kept by the Ramsar Bureau contains wetlands of international importance that, according to the countries to which they belong, are threatened by changes in their ecological character and require immediate measures to protect them. At the 4th Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP4) in 1990, the Greek government, well aware of its responsibility, listed all 11 Greek wetlands of international importance (10 now, following the unification of two areas) on the said record and accepted the relevant recommendations of the 4th Conference and the 2 subsequent ones (in 1993 and 1996 respectively). The decisions and recommendations for all Greek Ramsar wetlands concerned matters relating to their precise delimitation and the submission of maps, legal protection, the drafting of management plans and the safeguard of their ecological character. In 1998, the Ministry of Environment, jointly with the Ramsar Bureau, appointed an independent committee of experts. The mandate of this committee was to examine the possibility of removing certain Greek Ramsar wetlands from the Montreux Record. The committee examined the progress that was made during the past years, based on the recommendations of the Convention, and noted the difficulties and problems that persist in the various areas. It proposed that the following wetlands be removed from the Montreux Record: Evros Delta, Lake Mikri Prespa and Artificial Lake Kerkini. The Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works accepted the proposal and submitted a relevant request to the Ramsar Secretariat. The removal of these three wetlands from the Montreux Record was officially announced at the 7th COP in Costa Rica (May 1999) and the associated Resolutions of the Conference were issued. The Conference praised the Greek State for the seriousness with which handled the Montreux Record as a tool for protecting its wetlands.

4.4. Identification and description of types of habitats

The interest in natural areas shown by the Ministry of Environment is proven by the implementation, within the framework of the 2nd CSF of a project entitled: "Identification and description of types of habitats in areas of interest for the conservation of nature". The implementation of this project commenced at the beginning of 1999, after an important preparatory phase. The project concerns all sites of the NATURA 2000 Network on the Scientific catalogue (264 sites). The project is expected to contribute to the sustainable management of important Greek wetlands in the near future because it will fill substantial gaps in knowledge and will provide a basis for management.

4.5. Hydrological and meteorological data base

The National Hydrological and Meteorological Data Bank is a data base containing an important number of documents containing hydrological, hydrogeological and meteorological data from all over the country. With the use of suitable software applications and Geographical Information Systems a synthesis of the information can be made and conclusions can be drawn concerning the evaluation, control and design of infrastructure and management projects. Some of the applications of the National Hydrological and Meteorological Data Bank are, e.g. sewerage network evaluation, measurement of reservoirs, design and construction of irrigation or drainage networks, forecast of wet and dry periods, evaluation of flooding danger, evaluation of water resources, qualitative and quantitative evaluation of underground aquifers etc. It is clear that information obtained from the above applications is valuable for the sustainable management of wetlands, and the rehabilitation-restoration of wetland functions. The project is being financed by the Cohesion Fund and national resources and is being carried out (phase A’: 1998-2001) by the Department of Civil Engineers of the National Polytechnic of Athens under the supervision of the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works.


Proceed to section 5, Annexes, Bibliography

Summary Presentation of the National Strategy for Wetland Resources

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