On Friday November 1st, 2013, staff members of ARCTOUROS visited the project areas and delivered Hellenic Livestock Guarding Dog puppies as part of Action C.9. Hellenic Guarding Dogs have been successfully protecting livestock in the mountainous regions of our country for centuries and constitute an invaluable part of our cultural and natural heritage.
Conservation of priority forests and forest openings in "Ethnikos Drymos Oitis" and "Oros Kallidromo" of Sterea Ellada, LIFE11 NAT/GR/1014
On November 6. 2013, the presence of the Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funereus) on Mt. Oiti was confirmed through Action A.9 fieldwork. The project’s ornithologist, accompanied by his colleagues E. Shogolev and S. Shogolev, visited again the area where this species had been most recently observed (in 2010 by A. Christopoulos). Since this owl is active mostly after dark, at nightfall they started playing its “song”. Receiving no response they changed place. On their third attempt, near the forest margin, at an altitude of 1.850 m, and shortly after 19.00 hours, a Tengmalm’s Owl called back -twice. They kept playing the call for a quarter of an hour (with intervals for better hearing) and the owl responded five times in total.
The project manager, Mr. Christos Georgiadis, presented the project LIFE11NAT/GR/1014 “ForOpenForests” at the Symposium MEDITERRANEAN AGROECOLOGY AND ORGANIC AGRICULTURE and II INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “BIOCÍTRICS” The Symposium was organised in Valencia, Spain from 2 to 5 October, within the framework of the exhibition Vegetal World. Specialists in agroecology from several Mediterranean countries participated in the Symposium.
Ms. Anastasia Koutsoulioutsou, a member of the external monitoring team for LIFE projects in Greece and Cyprus held the first evalution of the project on July 25 and 26. Ms. Koutsolioutsou spent the first day at the offices of the HSPN, where she was briefed in detail about the development of the project and verified the progress towards agreed actions and targets. On the second day, Ms. Koutsolioutsou, accompanied by representatives of all partners, visited the project area. There, she had the opportunity to observe various teams working in the field, and received information about various aspects of fieldwork and on the implementation of project actions.
In the beginning of June, the HSPN purchased a new 4WD vehicle, a SUZUKI GRAND VITARA. The HSPN is the project coordinator, and this vehicle will be used to cover transportation needs of the entire project team for visits to the National Park of Mt. Oiti as well as Mt Kallidromo. The main criteria leading to the selection of this vehicle were: a) its competitive price, compared to similar vehicles of other manufacturers; and b) the security it provides in the field. After the end of the project in 2017, the vehicle will remain in the possession of the HSPN, to be used for other fieldwork.
On Sunday, June 23th, the group visited the high altitude plateaus, where the three temporary ponds are located. They were accompanied all-day-long by Georgios Karetsos, the manager of IMFE and deputy Scientific Coordinator of the project, and Christos Georgiadis, the Project Manager. During their visit to one of the temporary ponds they had the opportunity to observe the sampling methods used for monitoring the endemic Veronica species of Mt. Oiti (Veronica oetaea*) and received information about the flora of the temporary ponds by the researcher Pinelopi Delipetrou. Additionally, our ornithologist, Charalampos Alivizatos provided information about the monitoring of the local avifauna.
On June 14, 2013 the first meeting of the project stakeholders was held in Lamia. The meeting was attended by representatives of the local government, of community organizations, of farmers and hunters as well as members of local environmental NGOs. During the first part of the meeting the project activities were presented in detail by members of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature and the University of Athens. During the second part, members of Stakeholders Committee expressed their views on the needs and constraints for the management and conservation of the project area.
On June 7, 2013, the Inception Report of the project was submitted to the European Commission. This report is very important for all LIFE projects, because the Commission decides according to it, whether to continue funding. This report is the first of five that must be submitted throughout the implementation of the project.
On 11 and 12 May 2013, scientists from the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, the University of Athens and the Institute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems visited the project area. Specifically, the field investigation was focused on the temporary ponds in the Oiti National Park and Mount Kallidromo. In the Oiti National Park the scientific team also visited the area of priority habitat with Juniperus foetidissima (9560 *). During this visit, the team observed Veronica oetaea * just flowering in one of the temporary ponds of the Mt. Oiti National Park.
Since November 2012, the ornithologist of the project, with his colleagues, have been visiting Mt Oiti every month. After March, the vistis increased to twice a month. Efforts are made to locate the target species of the project, mostly with the use of taped calls. Up to now, all the target woodpecker species have been detected (Picus canus, Dryocopus martius and Dendrocopos leucotos), as well as two more species (Picus viridis and Dendrocopos minor). Other species of note include raptors such as Aquila chrysaetos and Circaetus gallicus. During the next months, visits will include all parts of the Mt. Oiti SPA, in order to estimate the populations of the 5 target species and to study their habitat requirements and threats.