A. Preparatory Actions
A.1. Development and legal adoption of Action Plans (APs) for species and habitats of Community Interest
A.1 entails the selection of the specific habitats and species for which the APs will be formulated. This
process will be based on the latest data from the Greek Natura 2000 Monitoring System and experts’ opinion, through workshops organization, where the conservation status, conservation needs, threats/pressures and economic aspects of habitats and species will be assessed. It is also foreseen that if further data and information is necessary to be collected targeted field work will be also carried out. The action will result in formally developing a national and binding specification document for drafting species and habitat APs, the formulation of several APs for species and habitats of Community Interest (Annexes III, IV and V of 92/43/EEC and Annex I of 2009/147/EC) and finally their legal approval.
A.2. Streamlining, ensuring compatibility and optimising the specifications of all existing species and habitat monitoring data of the NATURA 2000 network at national level.
The main objective of this Action is to establish the prerequisite specifications, streamline, and achieve
a robust compatibility between all available and existing Natura 2000 monitoring data on a national level, and thus allow the smooth integration and use of this extensive dataset in the development of the Decision Support System (DSS) for Natura 2000 site management (Action C.3). This will be achieved with the creation of a database that will include all past, present and allow the addition of future data of the Greek Natura 2000 network and species/habitats of community importance as these are listed in the Birds and Habitats Directives. This action will ensure faster and more effective processing of the available data and the creation of the other usage tools foreseen in other activities of the project (A.3, C.3, C.4 and C.6).
A.3. Mapping and assessment of Ecosystems Services (MAES)
The main objective of this action is to develop the appropriate methodology in order to identify, map
and assess the Ecosystem Services (ES) in Greece (primarily within, but also outside the NATURA 2000 network for enhancing connectivity), and thus create the appropriate base-line datasets for applying site conservation measures that also target ES in real-life management. All available spatial and biodiversity data, Corine Land Cover datasets and various local and regional, production and financial data will be analysed through a GIS environment, resulting in spatially explicit ES quantification and mapping. Such results constitute a key requirement for the implementation of the ES concept in decision making processes, predominantly nature conservation and management. Finally, a framework for updating the ecosystem services and maps produced through the project will be introduced to ensure sustainability.
A.4. Stakeholder mapping and analysis
This action aims to undertake a thorough stakeholder mapping and analysis of authorities, end users and other socio-economic and scientific actors, who may contribute or are affected by the project’s actions. The focus will be in particular on stakeholders involved or affected by the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives across Greece and in the selected areas in which the project’s localized or regional actions will take place. The results of this analysis will contribute to the assessment of stakeholders’ positions, provide a clear view of basic and expert knowledge, information and capacity building needs and offer a solid basis for the selection of prioritized stakeholders to be reached, engaged, and informed in the implementation of the project’s actions. The methodology, criteria and process of this action will be designed so that it can be replicated in the future to update results.
C. Specific Conservation Actions
C.1. Field implementation of the Action Plans (APs) for species and habitats
Through this action all APs for species and habitats formulated and formally approved in A.1 will be implemented in the field and before the project’s end. The action will be carried out on a national scale according to the provisions set out in the APs. Furthermore, an adaptive approach between their implementation and monitoring in Action D.3 will allow a regular review of the conservation process and foresee flexibility. Based on the selection of species/habitats targeted and the geographical extent, all necessary stakeholders and experts identified in A.4 will be actively involved.
C.2. Pilot implementation of NATURA 2000 site Management Plans (MPs) in four Greek Regions
This action entails the selection and actual implementation of several Natura 2000 site MPs that will be formulated/formally adopted through complementary funds. Pilot implementation of the MPs in the selected NATURA 2000 sites in the four participating Administrative Regions will be completed before the end of the project. Based on the selection of the specific Natura 2000 sites targeted for MPs implementation and the geographical extent, all necessary stakeholders and experts identified in A.4 will be actively involved. The action aims also to achieve close collaboration with landowners and stakeholder groups in or around the pilot implementation sites and to agree on the appropriate conservation means for the targeted species and habitats whilst respecting the local socio-economic and cultural context. The results of C.6 (MAES) will be also utilised in the enhancement of MPs achievements.
C.3. Development and Operation of a Decision Support System (DSS) for NATURA 2000 site management
This action foresees the development of a tool that will a) help nature administration managers and personnel of public services on a national, regional and local level to better monitor the status and condition of the Natura 2000 sites in Greece, b) provide guidelines, up-to-date information and knowledge, permission and authorization status, and c) facilitate and expedite the most appropriate responses of the competent authorities in management and licensing procedures in the Greek Natura 2000 network. The results of A.2 will be integrated in the DSS. This tool will constitute the geospatial Decision Support System (DSS) predominantly developed for administration officers involved in site, as well as species and habitat management and protection.
C.4. Creation of an interactive and interoperable Public Participation Geographic Information System (ppGIS)/webGIS for ecosystem services visualization and monitoring
The main objective of this action is to a) facilitate integration of the data mapped in action A.3 into actual land use planning decision processes, b) increase public awareness to mainstream ecosystem service information into policy and governance, and c) ultimately, contribute to ecosystem protection, conservation and management. Thus a custom developed ppGIS (public participation GIS) and webGIS system will be designed to provide interactive use of spatial data and geo referenced cartography, easily accessible even by smartphones or tablets. These IT platforms will empower local people, communities and nature conservation and management authorities to use geo-spatial information technologies and maps to communicate with each other in an effective way.
C.5. Stakeholder capacity building
The main objective of this action is capacity building of identified and prioritised stakeholders (Action
A.4) concerning the implementation needs of the Birds and Habitats Directive and in particular on the management needs of Natura 2000 and conservation priorities of protected habitats and species. The action will build on the project’s deliverables (methodologies, plans, maps, tools, etc.) and other available sources (legislation, EU guidance documents, past LIFE project deliverables, scientific research) in order to create thematic and/or regional cycles of innovative, engaging, practical, physical and virtual capacity building and training opportunities and therefore address identified needs, make use of available opportunities, facilitate the application of the proposed tools and support the project’s field actions. All material (presentations, webinars, publications, guidance documents, manuals, case studies, exercises, etc.) produced will be made widely available through actions E.1 and E.2 in order to ensure the highest level of outreach and transferability, improved access to available knowledge and systematic guidance.
C.6. Implementing Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES) at pilot studies
This action will test and apply the MAES results produced in A.3, in selected pilot Natura 2000 sites of
the four participating Administrative Regions, where the MPs will be implemented (Action C.2). It will thus provide a robust framework for multi-scale assessment of ES using different datasets in exquisitely important areas. These assessments will set conservation objectives, priorities and measures at the selected Natura 2000 site level through dedicated guidelines. MAES will be used to guide regional and local plans for specific management interventions and capture services directly related to smaller scale ecosystem processes, cultural ecosystem services and values.
D. Project’s Impact Monitoring Actions
D.1. Monitoring of the project’s contribution to the implementation of Greek Prioritised Action Framework (PAF), the success of the capacity building actions and the mobilization of
D.2. Monitoring the environmental impact of the implementation of Natura 2000 sites Management Plans (MPs)
D.3. Monitoring the environmental impact of the implementation of the APs at national scale
D.4. Monitoring of the project’s ecosystem functions
D.5. Monitoring of the project’s socio-economic impact
All D actions will commence beyond the 1st phase of the project and will focus on monitoring the
overall and specific impact of the project’s actions and the complementary funds on the implementation of the PAF, the achievement of the targets 1 and 2 of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, the improvement of the conservation status of the targeted species and habitats and the general objectives of the Habitats and Birds Directives. A paramount contribution to the above will be the APs’ and MPs’ implementation evaluation that will determine the successes, positive conservation impacts and quantified results achieved by the project on national, multiregional and species/habitat level. The monitoring of ecosystem functions, will also focus on assessing the demonstrative character, methods and results for the demonstrative element of the project regarding MAES implementation (C.6). Apart from the above the project will also monitor its progress and achievements in its effectiveness in capacity building and training, overall environmental and socioeconomic impact. The evaluation will be based on a set of indicators that will be developed within the framework of the project to measure progress in implementing the APs and MPs, and all of its other elements and actions.
E. Communication and Dissemination Actions
E.1. Communication and Dissemination
This action aims to design and implement an integrated and inclusive national awareness raising campaign on Natura 2000, contributing thus, to the elucidation of the Birds and Habitats Directives provisions and the promotion of the value of the Natura 2000 network in Greece. In parallel, the action will also carry out specific dissemination activities that will be foreseen in the species and habitats APs that will be formulated (A.1) and implemented (C.1). It will also support dissemination of the project’s deliverables to key stakeholders and the general public. The campaign will develop messages that are relevant, specific, instructive and inspiring. A variety of communication methods and channels will be used (press, mass and social media, workshops and events, and diverse communication). The project’s website will be updated regularly on the project’s developments and serve as a hub of information on the project, while at the same time providing innovative pathways of interaction between project leaders, stakeholders and the public. All material (presentations, webinars, publications, guidance documents, manuals, case studies, exercises, etc.) produced will be made widely available through actions C.5 and E.2 in order to ensure the highest level of outreach and transferability, and improved access to available knowledge and systematic guidance. Obligatory dissemination activities will be carried out in E.1 (networking activities, website, layman’s report, and project’s info-boards).
E.2. Replication and transfer of projects results and achievements nationally and on an EU level
This action will ensure that the project’s results and achievements will be actively replicated and transferred. A dedicated strategy will be developed in order to achieve national and EU transfer and replication within the project’s duration. Nationally, special effort for transfer and replication will be put to key activities that will produce significant and long term conservation results and will achieve the main objectives of the project (e.g. implementation of MPs, and species/habitats APs in C.2 and C.1). On an EU level the project will aim at transferring achievements and promoting replication in neighbouring member states that face similar conservation issues, host species and habitats targeted by the project.
F. Project Management and Monitoring Actions
F.1. Project Structure and Management
This action constitutes the main project management and coordination activity. All administrative, financial, reporting, project monitoring aspects of LIFE-IP 4 NATURA will be addressed and organised within its framework. A management system will be established, comprised by the Projects Administration Group (PAG) supported and assisted by two Committees (Steering-PSC and Scientific- SAC) and all beneficiaries’ administrative and financial personnel. External financial audit is also foreseen to be carried out at the end of each phase. Additionally, the compilation of the project’s performance indicators is included in F.1, along with the formulation of the After LIFE plan of the project.
F.2. Coordination of Complementary Funds
This action entails the close and constant observation and assessment of the implementation of all activities that have been attributed to complementary funds. Thus, a monitoring scheme will be established that will compile the necessary data and information from all Managing Authorities of the complementary funds and provide updates on the planning, tendering, implementation and delivery of projects that are listed in the inventory of complementary activities and actions of the LIFE-IP 4 NATURA. Moreover, this action will investigate further co-financing opportunities and provide input on potential available funds that may be necessary in unlikely and unforeseen financial needs in the projects implementation.