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Map 3: Photographic display between two different versions of Natura 2000

2018: Natura 2000 network expansion in Greece

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 28 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

As far as Greece is concerned, up until March 2018, the national list of the European ecological network Natura 2000 was in force. After April 2018 an update of national list has been done.
According to the old list, in Greece, 419 natura sites had been characterized as NATURA areas along the country. Of which, 217 had the more specific characterization “Sites of Community Importance (SCI)”, 178 “Special Protection Areas (SPA) for birds” and the rest had both characterizations.

The new data released, show differences between the new and old NATURA 2000 areas, since 32 new sites have been added to the list (23 SCI site types, 8 SPA and 1 SCI/SPA), and 5 older ones have been merged with others. Map 1 shows all new entries with hashed green. New sites occupy in total 10.029 km2 (about 7.5% of the country).

As a result, the number of the NATURA 2000 areas has now reached 446 (Map 2), having 239 areas characterized as “Special Areas of Conservation – (SAC)”, 181 as “Special Protection Areas (SPA) for birds” and the rest 26 areas as both characterizations.

We have examined the differences between the old and new NATURA 2000 areas. Map 3 shows differences between old and new NATURA 2000 areas. The sites with hashed red are the newest Natura 2000 areas.

Total area of new entries in Natura areas version 30 is 16.479 km2. If we take overlapping sites into consideration, then the total area increased by 31% (from 55.287 to 72.524 km2).

Authors: G.Tentes – C.Stamati
Acknowledgements: M.Theodoridou

Alonissos – Vories Sporades National Marine Park: Ticket study

The provision of environmental policy advice and the solution of difficult environmental challenges is widely known to take place primarily with the involvement of the private sector, as government agencies face difficulties in risk management.

Our company GREEN2SUSTAIN is known for undertaking and successfully completing difficult environmental policy and strategy projects, including those related to the environmental economy. Great challenges require teams with experience in the field, and to this end we have distinguished ourselves, undertaking tasks that other companies would be reluctant to undertake.

GREEN2SUSTAIN used the scientific training of its team to draft a proposal, which was adopted (after various modifications) by the Management Body of the Alonissos – Northern Sporades National Park (ETHPAVS) and by the Ministry of the Environment.

The aim of the study is to determine a ticket in application of an existing law of 2019, which provides authorizing provisions for the drafting of a Joint Ministerial Decision.
The National Park of Alonissos, as well as other protected areas of the country, are under constant environmental pressure and the “polluter pays” principle is not applied effectively. The protection regime itself imposes the control of the pressures towards the protected elements of the Alonissos National Park – Northern Sporades. National parks are protected areas, and state institutions have an obligation to protect them. The fact that Alonissos Park is marine, makes it more vulnerable to impunity and recklessness. Consequently, as in other parts of Greece and Europe, the introduction of a ticket is expected to work in terms of prevention and protection.

Getting a ticket in a sea area is in itself a great challenge, as there are no dividing lines at sea, and collection limits and collection points must be carefully defined. The aim of the study was to find a solution, to have a reciprocal benefit for the use of the protected area that will allow for the restoration of the environment, either directly (with revenues in the funds of the Management Body that can be used) or indirectly (through Green Fund investments).
Ticketing is not a novelty for protected areas, but a commonplace on all continents. In Greece, the ticket payment policy is already applied, either optionally in the form of a service (Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli National Forest Park), or compulsorily in the form of an entrance ticket (Samaria National Park). Our collaborators analyzed models from Greece and abroad (Spain, Italy, Sweden and elsewhere). Obviously, each case has its own special characteristics, in relation to the permitted uses, but the general picture is that the principle of reciprocity is applied to the burden of the environment, with the ticket often being used as a deterrent and controller of the number of users, but also as a source of income for conservation actions.

The purpose of the ticket is to provide resources for the Management Bodies, and there are special conditions for its implementation. These conditions are fully ensured by the proposal that has been formulated.
With the introduction of a ticket, multiple social and ecological goals are achieved:
– the pan-European and global “polluter pays” principle applies to users of an area of absolute protection
– occasional users are discouraged
– the financial resources of the Managing Authority and the of state increase
– it is widely established that the protection of nature (especially where the latter is exploited) comes with a cost that modern societies will have to bear at multiple levels (state, local, individual).

It is pointed out that the public debate already mentions cases where boats, wanting to avoid paying a one-way ticket, are forced to choose alternative routes, north of the marine park. This is a success of the ticket establishment in terms of environmental protection: crossing is discouraged at zero cost and nature is protected.
The payment of a ticket has been proposed to be made directly to the Managing Authority, with earnings for both the (state owned) Green Fund (on a predetermined percentage) and for the Public Funds (via VAT), based on the provisions of the legislation.

Obviously, special groups of citizens are excluded from the ticket, as is any case of a public ticket. These exceptions are numerous, but to the extent that they do not institutionalize the exception as the rule.
The Management Body is one of the bodies involved in the tourist product of the area, as it is responsible (and coping with great difficulty) to oversee the traffic rules of zone A (of absolute protection) of the Park. With the proposal prepared, the Agency is expected to have a more substantial participation in the tourism product, creating revenues that will help it improve the services it provides.

Given that the Park is the main element of attracting tourism to the region, such a development will protect and upgrade the tourism product of the region.
For reasons of transparency in public discourse (although with a high risk of uncontrolled copying) our study has been posted on the website of the Park Management Agency (http://alonissos-park.gr/).

Photo credit: Paul Liakopoulos

Underwater cable permit feasibility

This report has been prepared by a multinational consulting firm in collaboration with Green2Sustain, on behalf of a international cable company to describe the required marine consents, permits, licences and notifications for the proposed submarine cable in the Mediterranean sea, through the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), territorial waters (TW) and contiguous zone (CZ). This study covers the section of the route through Cypriot waters only .

Pinna nobilis: species under threat

Pinna nobilis (Pinna) is the largest endemic bivalve in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2016, its mortality has been affected throughout the Mediterranean because it is threatened by a pathogen, Haplosporidium pinnae (H.pinnae). Losses are now evident in both the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, causing 80-100% mortality rates.

In the past, the major threats to Pinna came from illegal fishing, the loss of marine habitats (Posidonia oceanicae meadows, Cymodocea nodosa), boat moorings, invasive species and, more recently, climate change. However, none of these threats had led to an extremely large but rapid decline in the species population. Currently, the most worrying and widespread threat to Pinna nobilis throughout the Mediterranean is the parasite Haplosporidium pinnae (H.pinnae), which has spread en masse throughout the Mediterranean Sea.

Regarding Greece, the mass mortality of Pinna began to be observed in the summer of 2018. In the areas of the North Aegean, more than 90% of the population has already disappeared, while there are many reports of mass mortality in several areas of Greece. So far there are healthy populations of the species in the northern Dodecanese. It has not been established how the parasite appeared. It is probable that the presence of an alien species transmitted the parasite to the water.

Haplosporidum pinnae. The parasite that threatens the Mediterranean Pinna
The parasite Haplosporidum pinnae reportedly first appeared in 2016 off the coast of Spain. Within a year of the outbreak, Pinna’s population off the Spanish coast dropped dramatically. Haplosporidum pinnae has already wiped out entire Pinnas populations in the western Mediterranean.
Although it has not yet been determined how Haplosporidum pinnae appeared, it is possible that the presence of an alien species may have transmitted the parasite to the water, while it is transported by sea currents.

According to studies that have been carried out and according to the recent Greek researches, the parasite infects the tissues, destroys the cells and creates an extensive inflammation, with the result that the pin can not be fed and dies.

It is a very specialized pest, as it has not been found to infect other species of Pinna, such as Pinna rudis which is a similar species in the Mediterranean. Using genetic and histological data, the researchers concluded that the cause of the mass killing was a protozoan, affecting only Pinna nobilis.

Environmental Supervision – Hazardous waste removal

Our company undertook the task of supervising the removal of hazardous waste from an area own by the Greek State. The area consisted of forests and woodlands, of soil grounds as well as of surface water bodies (streams), rendering necessary the prevention of pollution and the rehabilitation of the area, given the significant risk of an overall environmental degradation.

Environment: In this project we evaluated the results of field surveys and of chemical analysis for a comprehensive assessment of the possible impacts in all environmental factors (soil, water, ecosystems) due to the leak of fossil fuels. Additionally, we were present during waste removal, proposed measured, monitored the activities during the restoration of the contaminated soils and the landscaping of the area.

Subject: Supervision of the Restoration of polluted areas | Partner: Greek public body | Investment CategoryEnvironmental management | Project area: Xanthi, N.Greece

Special Ecological Assessment Study for a 5 Star Superior Tourist Investment

Subject: Investigation of environmental impacts on a site belonging to the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

Client: Multinational Tourism Investment company.

Investment category: tourism

Location: Regional unit of Lefkada

Description: Study on the impacts of the tourist investment on the Natura 2000 site. We conducted cost-efficient field-works to map terrestrial  and marine habitats and species, as well as birds.  In addition we examined threats and impacts on the natural environment in the present, during contruction and during operation of the project. Our outcome supported a Strategic Environmental Assessment and an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Environment: Site surveys were carried out and fauna – flora species were recorded in the terrestrial part of the area by experienced biologists, with emphasis on reptiles and small mammals, habitats vegetation, as well as on human interventions. The area was also mapped and several species present in the area were recorded. For the exploration of the marine environment, experienced divers-oceanographers carried out research on the marine habitats and took underwater visual material related to the species in the project area.

underwater pipeline

Disposal study for brine waste

Title: Brine residual disposal report

Subject: Sea disposal of the brine residual produced by a desalination plant.

Client: Multinational Investment Company

Investment category: RO Unit for seawater desalination

Description: The project included the design of a seawater desalination unit and the underwater pipeline that would dispose brine waste into the sea bottom. The assessment included: water yield, brine yield, pipeline specifications and a water solubility and mixture model for the distribution of the brine waste in the Posidonia oceanica (protected habitat) patches at the sea bottom.

Environment: Regarding the brine disposal at sea, the area off-shore the said investment belongs to the Natura 2000 network of conservation areas. In order to understand the expected diffusion of the over-saline front, at the spot of disposal, we assessed empirical relationships and experiments . We also examined different simulation scenarios, by use of a simulation model. The results of the simulation were compared and finally we selected two alternative ways of brine disposal. We argued that the implementation of the project would affect the environment to a very small extent, owing to the low amounts of brine to be disposed and the appropriate selection of the disposal spot.

Design and application study for wastewater reuse

Subject: Design and implementation of a wastewater reuse system for irrigation and Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR)

Client: Pharmaceutical Industry

Investment Category: Industrial

Description:  A Managed Aquifer Recharge system was coupled to an irrigation system to secure that treated wastewater will be adequately reused. The design of the wastewater treatment plant included an FBBR modular system (Fixed Bed Biological Reactor). The capacity of the system covers 20 – 110 PE, and it is based on a serial array of tanks.

Environment: Groundwater and surfacewater protection was the main goals of the system. The area of establishment is highly industrial and since groundwater remains in a ‘good status’ the objective was to contribute to the water quality and quantity improvement.

Photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash

Environmental & Social Impact Assessment – Production of Pharmaceuticals

Subject: Environmental Permitting of a pharmaceutical production unit

Client: Pharmaceutical company

Investment Category: Industrial

Description: Environmental licensing of a pharmaceutical industry was the main purpose of the assessment. The study follows the requirements the Environmental legislation and sets specific weight on waste management, wastewater management and emissions management. 

Environment: The environmental impact study examined the compatibility of the project with the official spatial and town planning regulations. Checks have been made on the boundaries of the surrounding dwellings and for the possible existence of areas with archaeological interest and forest areas around the buildings. Alternative technologies were examined, based on criteria: socio-economic, natural resources and energy consumption, man-made environment, technical infrastructure, land and solid waste management. Finally, mitigation measures for potential environmental impacts were presented, for the construction and operation phases.

Paul Liakopoulos

Paul had his BSc degree in Physics with a wide experience in GiS & Remote Sensing applications, geodata & field data collection and analysis. He has participated in the environmental impact assessment of various industrial units and renewable energy plants. He also works on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and the adoption of circular economy schemes.

Business opportunities in non-EU countries

Our company participated in the seminar on business opportunities in countries outside the EU. In this seminar, the business opportunities that may resulting from financial mechanisms of the EU emerged, in relation to the provision of consulting services and construction of infrastructure (by Greek Companies), focusing on countries outside the EU. We learned about the innovative financial instruments of the EU and how they could promote a possible participation in EU-financed programmes mainly in the areas of energy, information and communication (ICT) and transport technologies. Additionally, in this seminar, people from the European Commission presented the practical guide explaining the contracting procedures applicable to all EU external actions, financed from the EU general budget (the EU Budget) and the European Development Fund (EDF). In this guide, people from the European Commission analyzed the basic targets, the contracting procedure and the current policy framework. The Green2Sustain team collected all the useful data and we are available for any information you might need.

Speakers:
a) The Head of Unit Near.B.3 (Audit Agents, European Commission, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Negotiate Address)

b) The Head of Department “Facilities Management” (Financial Instruments Unit, European Commission, Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development)

c) The Head of the Energy sector (Water Unit, Energy, Infrastructure, European Commission, Directorate General for Cooperation and Development)

Athens Science Festival

The date and time have been fixed: Sunday the 22nd of March 2015, at 16:00, Technopolis, City of Athens 

And we are in the 2nd Athens Science Festival ! Our collaborators will organise a lively and interesting workshop on municipal solid waste management in Greece and the innovative idea of Waste Mining.

But there is more to it ! We have ensured that it is possible to transfer the mobile exhibition on the protection and spawning of the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta. This means that more than 8,000 children and adults will have the opportunity to visit the exhibition and learn about the protection and nesting sea turtles hosted in Greek seas and coasts.

Admission is free with admission tickets, which will be available at Technopolis, during the days of the Festival. Pre-booking available by email: [email protected] or by phone: 2103692337, 6942783269.

We are awaiting for you with much joy and excitement !!!

See the Athens Science Festival Poster here !

Study the Athens Science Festival Programme here !

Listen to the Athens Science Festival Radio Spot here !