Conservation of priority forests and forest openings in "Ethnikos Drymos Oitis" and "Oros Kallidromo" of Sterea Ellada, LIFE11 NAT/GR/1014
The purpose of this action is to:
- Determine the level of awareness, perceived values, recommendations, and expectations of the stakeholders, regarding the conservation of the natural environment of the Natura 2000 sites of Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo in general, and of the target habitats and species in particular.
- Develop an effective communication and participation strategy.
The action will start on the first year of the project and will include a series of interviews and surveys in the regions of Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo, designed to provide an integrated approach to the stakeholder opinion. The lessons learned by the project JUNICOAST (LIFE07NAT/ GR/000296), which implemented similar actions, will be taken into account.
A series of semi-structured interviews with decision makers (e.g., Local Authorities, Regional Authorities, local community representatives, local agricultural or other cooperatives, representatives of the local commercial or industrial enterprises) will be carried out at the onset of the project. The interviews will be designed to determine the socio-economic issues relating the stakeholders to biodiversity conservation in the Natura 2000 sites, their opinion and perceived values regarding these issues, and their level of awareness. This will be followed up by the active involvement of the stakeholders in the project management through the Stakeholder Committee (action F.2).
At the same time, two surveys will be carried out, based on semi-structured questionnaires designed to ascertain the public opinion regarding the conservation and use of the Natura 2000 sites and of the target habitats. The questionnaires will specifically address threats related to site users, such as illegal waste deposal and trampling. The first survey will involve a random sample of the local communities in the regions of Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo. The second survey will involve visitors and any other users of the areas where the habitats occurr, and will be mostly carried out on site. In addition, huntering, mountaineering, cycling, and four-wheel-drive clubs will be approached, in order to distribute questionnaires to their members.
The analysis of all the above data will be used in order to develop a communication strategy, and will provide guidelines for the environmental awareness and education campaign (action E.1), including the visitor information centres (action E.2) and material for the project website (action E.3). Also, this action will aim to develop a participation strategy to be implemented by actions E.1, E.4, and F.2, and will be a useful tool for the after-LIFE habitat and species conservation (action F.4). Finally, the results of this action will provide input for action D.6.
The assent, consent, and active engagement of the stakeholders in management are pre-requisites for the success of all conservation efforts. Although the proposed project has, in a way, ensured the goodwill of the local authorities by their involvement as beneficiaries or co-financiers, this action will allow consultation with the maximum range of stakeholders and site users.
Moreover, public acceptance and participatory activities are of the utmost importance for the success of the project actions, since certain of the most serious threats for the target habitats and species (e.g., trampling, waste deposit) are related to the conduct of the site users. This action will help to design an effective communication and participation strategy to be implemented by actions E.1, E.2, E.3, E.4 and F.2., and thus to achieve a wide range of acceptance and cooperation for the project actions which will facilitate action F.4.
- A report including the results, analysis, and evaluation of the stakeholder consultation.
- A text describing the communication and participation strategy to be implemented by the dissemination and project management actions.
The purpose of this action is to determine the governance structure and the legal status of the Natura 2000 sites of Mt. Oiti (GR244004) and Mt. Kallidromo (GR244006). The action will start at the onset of the project.
Governance is defined as the interaction among structures, processes and traditions that determine how power and responsibilities are exercised, how decisions are taken, and how stakeholders participate in these decisions. This will be determined:
- Βy semi-structured interviews of the stakeholders, including key governance bodies and people, identified by action A.11 and during the first meeting of the Stakeholder Committee (action F.2);
- Βy informal interviews on site;
- Βy the local community survey (action A.11).
The results will be analysed and the governance structure described and evaluated.
The legal status will be defined by a review of the existing EU and national legislation and policies, which affect the conservation of the target habitats and species. The study will include investigation of the administrative structure and the institutional framework.
Both the above activities will include recommendations that will support the concrete conservation interventions and will be incorporated in the proposals for after-LIFE conservation (action F.4). In addition the results will contribute to the issue of specific legislation for the Natura 2000 sites of Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo (action C.10).
The determination of governance structure is essential in order to identify key governance barriers to the effective management and protection of the target habitats and species. Good governance is currently identified as essential for conservation management. Failure of managers to take into account existing governance structures and processes, and to integrate project actions as part of those, has often led to failure of nature conservation projects.
The review of existing legislation and policy and its clear communication to stakeholders will be a useful tool for management design and application. Both the activities will ensure the long-term conservation of the target habitats and species.
- A report on the governance structure, including recommendations for its improvement, to be taken into account in the implementation of action C.10
- A report on the legal status of the target habitats and species and their areas, including recommendations for improvement of the administrative structure and legislative efficiency, to be taken into account in the implementation of action C.10
This action includes the implementation of management measures in order to restrict the access of vehicles and control the access on foot to the target habitats. and in order to control the activities of visitors and minimise their impact to the target habitats and species. The detailed specifications for these actions will be provided by action A.8, and their implementation will start on the second year of the project. The proposed locations for the interventions are shown in maps 1 and 2.
The management measures will be implemented by the following subactions:
- Fencing of the areas of the temporary ponds (3170*). Permanent open wooden or metallic pole fences will be established: a) at four ponds on Mt. Oiti (Livadies, Greveno, Louka, North of Trapeza) with a total perimeter of fencing of approximately 300 metres; and b) at three ponds on Mt. Kallidromo (Nevropoli, E of Nevropoli, and Souvala) with a total perimeter of fencing of approximately 1,600 m. The fences will be equipped with lifting barriers in order to allow the entrance of animals as necessary for the implementation of action C.3.
- Establishment of wooden lifting barriers at strategic points, in order to block access roads to vehicles. Five barriers will be established at the access roads to the core area of the National Park of Mt. Oiti which includes all the temporary ponds (3170*) and most of the mountain grasslands (6230*). Five barriers will be established at the access roads to the central area of Mt. Kallidromo which includes all the temporary ponds (3170*) and most of the mountain grasslands (6210*). Certain of the existing roads will be blocked to visitors but retained in order to enable surveillance, maintenance of management measures, fire protection, and any urgent transport.
- Establishment of parking lots at the sites of the road barriers.
- Establishment of signboards with information about the project, the Natura 2000 sites, and the target habitats and species at the locations of the road barriers and parking lots, as well as next to the fenced areas of the temporary ponds (3170*).
- Establishment of wooden information kiosks in appropriate locations at the entrances of the protected areas and within the protected sites. The kiosks will include a wooden pavilion, wooden seats, and a signboard with information on the project and the Natura 2000 sites with indelible text, maps of the area including habitats and paths, and pictures. Four kiosks will be established on Mt. Oiti and 4 more will be established on Mt. Kallidromo.
- Repair and reform of a network of approximately 40 km of existing trails for on-foot visitor traffic on Mt Oti and Mt. Kallidromo. The trails will be cleared, repaired and properly demarcated and signposted. Steps and handrails will be added where necessary. Signboards with information on the project and the Natura 2000 sites will be placed at the beginning and at the end of each trail. The final selection of trails will be made by action A.8. Indicative trails are:
- Mt Oiti: Ypati village-EOS Refuge -Greveno peak and circular path back to EOS Refuge –Trapeza peak.
- Mt. Kallidromo: Anavra village-Panagia church-corssroads to Souvala-Mendenitsa village-Kleisoura ravine-Tithronio village.
- Camping sites will be established at two appropriate locations on Mt. Oiti and two more on Mt. Kallidromo, outside the target habitats, at the periphery of the Natura 2000 sites. The camping sites will be equipped with safe fireplaces, portable lavatories, and running water. Additionally, a signboard with information on the project and the NATURA 2000 sites will be established at each site.
- Two recreation (picnic) sites will be established at appropriate locations on Mt. Kallidromo, outside the target habitats, within the controlled access area. The sites will be equipped with safe fire-places, and wooden benches.
- Fly-tipped waste will be removed from the areas of the temporary ponds (3170*) and mountain grasslands (6210*, 6230*) and deposited at legal waste disposal sites. Removal will be done using light equipment or by hand, as necessary in order to avoid damage of the protected habitats. Waste removal will be implemented once at the first year of the project. Volunteer teams and local NGOs may assist in the removal. The maintenance of the action (surveillance, additional waste removal, waste collection and transportation) after the initial cleaning up will be undertaken by the Municipality of Lamia by own funds.
- Two litter-bins with lid will be established at each parking lot. The existing litter-bins in the area of the habitats will be removed.
We should note the following regarding the long term sustainability of the results of Action C1:
- The main issues regarding sustainability of the results in the long term are maintenance of the infrastructure created (fencing, wooden barriers, information kiosks, camping sites, etc.), and adherence of the stakeholders and the general public to the established guidelines. In order to ensure this, it is necessary to delegate responsibility to the competent authorities in the area.
- The existing Management Body for the National Park of Mt. Oiti is responsible for overall management of GR2440004 and GR2440007, and it will assume responsibility for all necessary actions after LIFE. For GR2440006 no Management Body exists, so the responsibility will be assumed by the RST and the Municipal Authority of Molos-Agios Konstantinos.
- The responsibility for maintenance of the infrastructure will be delegated to the RST Forestry Service, as well as the Municipal Authority of Molos-Agios Konstantinos, and the Municipal Authority of Lamia which supports the proposal. After the submission of our proposal, we have contacted the Municipal Authority of Tithorea, on the western side of Oros Kallidromo, and they have also expressed an interest to support the project, and may be involved in the long-term maintenance. Local NGOs, such as “The Friends of Mount Kallidromo” which supports the proposal, will be involved, mainly through action E4, but also actions E3 and E5, and the Stakeholder Committee, and they can undertake some of the necessary actions (e.g. voluntary removal of waste once a year).
- All necessary after-LIFE actions will be authorized and/or approved by the Management Body and carried out by the RST or Municipal authorities. Funding will come from the State budget, according to the current funding for regional authorities.
This action is necessary in order to protect the target habitats and species from threats related to human activities that take place within the NATURA 2000 sites. Moreover, this action will improve the visitor infrastructure and have a positive socio-economic impact on the local communities.
Fencing and road access control will limit the frequent off-road vehicle traffic, which is a major cause of disturbance and degradation of the target habitats, and will also help in providing a more tranquil environment for the Brown Bear. According to the Management Plan for the National Forest Park of Oiti (LIFE92 NAT/GR/013700), road access control is a necessary measure, while the repair and signposting of trails is a standing request of the local communities. The information signboards will discourage trespassing. Parking lots are necessary in order to avoid uncontrolled trampling of habitats.
Fly-tipping is frequent in the areas of the target habitats and waste is often accumulated. Waste removal and placement of litter-bins at appropriate locations are necessary in order to avoid habitat degradation (e.g. from leaching, resulting in pollution of the mountain grasslands and eutrofication of the ponds) and will also restore the aesthetic value of the sites. The litter-bins established at Nevropolis on Mt. Kallidromo have been placed inappropriately (within the mountain grasslands, by the pond, far from the usual itinerary of the waste collection tracks and they are hard to reach). Currently, picnic and illegal camping activities take place within the mountain grasslands, often immediately next to the temporary ponds. The establishment of camping and picnic sites will prevent habitat degradation (vegetation clearing, trampling, pollution by waste) and increased fire risk caused by these activities. The information kiosks will provide easily accessible information for visitors, encouraging the appropriate and legal behaviour within the protected areas.
- Seven wooden pole fences (total perimeter of approximately 1,900 m) and signboards at the temporary ponds of Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo.
- 10 wooden lifting barriers, parking lots and information signboards at the locations of access control, on Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo.
- 20 litter bins at the parking lots.
- 8 information kiosks, on Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo.
- Four camping sites and two recreation sites, on Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo.
- Increased accessibility of trails for visitors on-foot.
- Prevention of trampling of the habitats and species by off-road vehicles, and elimination of waste from the target habitats.
- Increase in public awareness.
The purpose of this action is to increase the population size and the area of occupancy of the threatened plant species Veronica oetaea* by the introduction of the plant at new locations.
It is a pilot action and will be implemented according to the specifications provided by action A.4, starting in the third year of the project. The action will take place at temporary ponds (3170*) with favourable conditions for the species within the current distribution area of the plant on Mt. Oiti, and also at the neighbouring area of Mt. Kallidromo, where the ecological conditions are similar to those of Mt. Oiti. The proposed locations are the ponds at Louka and North of Trapeza on Mt. Oiti, and those at Souvala and Nevropolis on Mt. Kallidromo. The final selection of the restoration sites will be made according to the specifications of action A.4.
The restoration sites will be fenced (action C.1) so as to avoid accidental destruction of the new plants. Seeds of the plant will be collected during the first year of the project (action C.7). Veronica oetaea* is a dwarf annual species, so the establishment will be made by seeding. Seed collection and treatment will be carried out in collaboration with action C.7. Seeding in the field will take place at the appropriate period (according to actions A.4 and C.7) during the third year, and will be repeated in the following years if necessary. The success of the establishment of the population will be monitored annually. The methodology of this work will be evaluated and, if required, amended annually according to the results of monitoring. Details of the whole process will be recorded.
Regarding the plant material available for Action C.2:
The total current population of Veronica oetaea* is estimated to be approximately 50,000 – 80,000 plants (expert opinion). The reproductive biology of the species has not been studied, so this allows only for, more or less, theoretical calculations, based on simple observations. Moreover, a lot depends on the weather conditions in particular years. So, please, note that the following is only a reasonable but not validated estimation. According to the scientific description of Veronica oetaea*, each plant produces 1 – 11 capsules containing 40 – 60 seeds each. Thus, 10% of the annual production of seeds, which is the maximum number of seeds we are allowed to collect, is expected to be 200,000 – 5,280,000. This means that, unless there are very high population fluctuations, at least 200,000 seeds will be available for collection. In this case we will collect at least some 100,000 seeds in the first year, and use a maximum of 1,000 seeds for germination tests. That still leaves at least some 25,000 seeds available for sowing in each location in the first year; the final numbers will depend on the results of the germination tests. The numbers of seeds collected and sown in the subsequent years will depend on the success and the lessons learned during the first year at each stage of the process.
According to the IUCN terminology, action C.2 includes:
- Re-introduction at the ponds of Louka and North of Trapeza in GR2440004, because these are considered to be within the historical distribution range of the species.
- Conservation/benign introduction at the ponds of Souvala and Nevropolis in GR2440006, because these are outside its recorded distribution range but within an appropriate habitat and eco-geographical area. In this case, even though there is some remaining area left in the species historical range, this area is extremely small (at most 0,03 ha) and cannot be increased.
The required conditions for species re-introduction are listed below, along with an explanation of how action C.2 complies with them:
- It is justifiable and has a high chance of success. Veronica oetaea* is a critically endangered (CR) species so protection measures are justified.The criteria for the characterisation of the species as CR are: a) the restricted extent of occurrence and area of occupancy, and that it has only 1 subpopulation at 1 location; in combination with b) the large annual fluctuations of the population size due to the annual variation of the hydrological conditions; and c) the fact that its current habitat is threatened. So, it is justified to attempt to increase the number of locations. The attempt has a high chance of success, because it will be done at a similar habitat (high altitude 3170*) and the species is expected to readily reproduce by seed. It also has a high chance of success because criterion (c) is also addressed (see below).
- It targets areas where the causes of extinction of the species have been eliminated. The habitat of the species is 3170*, one of the target habitats of the project, and we expect that the threats against the habitat will be eliminated.
- The removal of individuals for re-introduction will only considered if it would not endanger the captive or wild source populations.
- Action C.2 does not entail removal of individuals. It will use seeds collected from the natural population (only up to the prescribed 10 % of the annual production of seeds).
- It targets areas whose habitats meet the conditions necessary for the survival of a viable population of the species The selected target areas will have the specialised habitat of the species (high altitude 3170*), at similar edaphic conditions.
- It establishes and documents a prior agreement between all parties involved. The relevant authorities are the RST, which is a project partner, and the Management Body of the National Park of Mt. Oiti, which has declared its support to the project.
- It targets only areas where the attitude of the local population towards the planned reintroduction is favourable, or there is a reasonable expectation that local acceptance can be achieved during the duration of the project. There is, indeed, a reasonable expectation for local acceptance, especially since public awareness and education actions will be implemented during the project.
- It only reintroduces plants that belong to the closest and most similar population available (in terms of genetics, ecology, etc.) to that previously occurring in the area. Currently there is only one population of Veronica oetaea*.
- It includes a feasibility study, a preparatory phase, a re-introduction phase and a follow-up phase. Action A.4 is a preparatory phase and the deliverables include a feasibility study; action D.1 includes a follow-up phase.
Veronica oetaea* is a critically endangered species included in the Red Data Book of threatened plants of Greece, and it occurs in only two neighbouring small ponds on Mt. Oiti.
The main criteria for its threat status according to the IUCN standards are:
- The restricted extent of occurrence (approximately 0.1 km2) and area of occupancy, and that it has one subpopulation at one location.
- The large annual fluctuations of the population size due to the annual variation of the hydrological conditions.
- The fact that its current habitat is threatened.
The proposed action will reduce the threat caused by the restricted distribution area and area of occupancy. This, in combination with actions C.1, C.3, and C.4 which will ameliorate the threats to the habitat, will result in the improvement of the conservation status of the plant and will ensure its long-term viability. Moreover, the methodology that will be developed will be a useful tool for temporary pond managers at a European level.
- Provided that the restoration is successful in all localities, Veronica oetaea* will be established at 4 new ponds, the number of IUCN-locations and subpopulations will increase to 4 – 5, the area of occupancy will increase to 5 km2 (1x1 grid), and the extent of occurrence will increase to approximately 70 km2.
- A manual with guidelines for the introduction of Veronica oetaea* at new locations, based on the results of action D.1.
The purpose of this action is to restore biodiversity and ecosystem function of mountain grasslands (6210*, 6230*) and of the temporary ponds (3170*) by management interventions that were traditionally applied in these habitats, i.e. regulation of grazing and shrub clearing.
This is a pilot action, during which various management regimes will be applied for 3–4 consecutive years in order to determine the regimes that favour the target habitats. The general scheme for the management regimes to be applied is described below, but the detailed design will be made according to the specifications of action A.6. The locations of action C.3 cannot be foreseen accurately, since they will be specified by the results of actions A.1 and A6. Nevertheless, all parts of this action will take place within the boundaries of the sites GR2440004 and GR2440006 (see map with indicative locations).
Mountain grasslands (6210*, 6230*):
- In each of the two Natura 2000 sites on Mts. Oiti and Kallidromo, three intervention sites of 10–40 ha (10,000– 40,000 m2) will be selected so that they represent three existing grazing regimes (as determined by action A.6), with stocking rates corresponding to moderate grazing (at the level of grazing capacity), heavy grazing (twice the level of grazing capacity) and control (no grazing). Heavy grazing, i.e. grazing that exceeds the grazing capacity, is not identical to overgrazing. Overgrazing refers to continued heavy grazing that exceeds the recovery capacity of a plant community. Heavy grazing favours certain species (e.g., annual legumes and frugivorous birds). It should be noted that these are controversial subjects, both in the scientific community and among land managers. The intention of the proposed treatment is to find the optimal regime for the conservation of grassland biodiversity without prejudice about what is “good” or “bad”. Were it known a priori that heavy grazing is bad and no grazing unfavourable for the priority habitats, moderate grazing would have been prescribed and no treatment testing would have been necessary.
- Control of thistles and excess of biomass (including hard grasses) by mechanical method (mower) will be applied to approximately half the area of the intervention sites. Mowing is needed annually, and is expected to be done 3 times in the period of the project. A surface area of a total of 80 ha in both the project sites will be treated 3 times.
- Control of shrubs (mainly Juniperus nana) by manual cutting or burning will be applied as necessary (shrub encroachment is generally observed in approximately one fourth of the area covered by grasslands). Shrub clearing is generally needed every 3 years, and we expect to carry it out once in the period of the project. A surface area of a total of 40 ha in both the project sites will be treated once.
- In addition, 5–10 mobile wooden cages covering an area of 2–3 m2 and preventing grazing will be placed in each grazing x thistle and shrub control combination.
Temporary ponds (3170*):
- In each of the seven ponds of Mts. Oiti and Kallidromo, intervention sites of approximately one third or half of the pond area will be fenced by non-permanent metallic pole fences and banned to grazing. This fencing will be additional to, and combined with the fencing of action C.1. Control of helophytes or grasses will be made through action C.4, as necessary. Control of shrubs coincides with the control of shrub encroachment applied for the grasslands, since the ponds are located within the grasslands.
The daily activity of the cattle on Mt. Kallidromo will be monitored by GPSR tracking ringers attached to 10 animals. The activity of the sheep and goat herds both on Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo can be monitored in cooperation with the shepherds. The impact of all the management regimes will be evaluated by actions D.1 and D.2, and amendments will be made if necessary. The evaluation of cattle patterns in the areas, in combination with the evaluation of the impact of management will be used in order to make proposals for after-LIFE long-term management (actions D.1 and D.2) and to produce the manual for grazing and woody vegetation management for the conservation of grasslands and temporary ponds.
The main guarantee for the after-LIFE application of the optimum management regimes is the set of actions targeted to stakeholders. Also, the RST Forestry Service and the Management Body are expected to promote the application of the regimes prescribed by the project results.
Preliminary contacts with local stockbreeders on Mt. Kallidromo indicated that, at least some of them, especially the younger ones, would be willing to co-operate. They attached great importance to: a) current prohibitions of grazing imposed by the RST Forestry Service which they believe are not justified in certain habitats; and b) the inadequate social and economic status of animal farmers in combination with the general abandonment and degradation of the rural communities. Grazing management is one of the objectives of the project and we believe that the first point can be addressed through the Stakeholder Committee in co-operation with the RST Forestry Service. The second point will be addressed by actions C.1, E.1 and E.2.
Shrub encroachment is an important threat for both the mountain grasslands (6210*, 6230*) and the temporary ponds (3170*) located within the grasslands. Shrub encroachment may be eliminated by grazing and cutting of shrubs. On the other hand, overgrazing is also a threat for both the target habitats.
The interventions proposed aim to determine the golden mean between grazing and overgrazing for habitat conservation, by applying management regimes similar to traditional practices which are currently in recession. Mountain grasslands of Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo have traditionally been part of the transhumance system applied in the region, and used as summer grazing areas for livestock, in particular sheep and goats. Shepherds with their animals used to arrive in these grasslands in April or May and depart in late October or early November. Before departing for the lowlands, shepherds used to set fires in order to control the “weeds” left after the summer grazing, so that new growth would appear in the next year when they would again visit the grasslands. During their stay in the mountain grasslands, shepherds used to cut the shrubs and branches of the trees in order to obtain firewood and construct their temporary huts to house their families who followed them in the mountains during summer. Therefore, all interventions proposed have been part of the traditional management of grasslands.
The information collected from these experimental interventions will then help designing a long-term management plan, so that the target habitats may be restored and conserved. In addition, these interventions are expected to improve the ranging condition of the grasslands, which will in turn be favourable for the economic status of the local farmers.
Improvement of the conservation status of the mountain grasslands and the temporary ponds of Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo. The management interventions are expected to be implemented over a total area of some 80 ha in GR2440004 and some 80 ha in GR2440006. So, within the duration of the project, these are the maximum areas where we would expect restoration.
It must be noted that currently we do not know how much of the total area of 6210* and 6230* is in need of restoration in any of the two sites. We expect that after-LIFE management with the proper regime will ensure a good conservation degree for the total area of these habitats in the project sites. In GR2440004 the total area of 6230* is estimated to be approximately 400 ha of, more or less, pure grassland and approximately 100 ha of grassland mixed with juniper shrub. In GR2440006 the total area of the grasslands may very roughly be 100 – 200 ha, but this includes all grasslands and not just 6210*.
A manual for grazing and woody vegetation management for the conservation of grasslands and temporary ponds based on the proposals of actions D.1 and D.2.
This action includes the implementation of management interventions focused on the conservation of the habitat of temporary ponds (3170*).
The action will start in the third year of the project and includes the following subactions :
- Erosion control at the area of the temporary ponds of Greveno on Mt. Oiti and Nevropolis on Mt. Kallidromo. The implementation of the intervention will be made according to the specifications of action A.8, over an area of some 5,000 m2 (0.5 ha) on Mt. Oiti and some 35,000 m2 (3.5 ha) on Mt. Kallidromo. Terraces will be created on the steep slopes by the installation of logs of wood. These will reduce runoff velocity and favour the establishment of woody vegetation.
- Restoration of the modified hydrological regime at the temporary pond of Leivadies on Mt. Oiti. The running tap that has been established for recreation purposes southeast of the pond has caused permanent filling with water of a certain area adjacent to the pond. The tap will be removed and the water flow will be adjusted so that a favourable hydrological regime will be restored according to the specifications of action A.8.
- Pilot restoration of the biotic communities of the temporary ponds on Mts. Oiti and Kallidromo. This subaction will be implemented according to the specifications of action A.3. Eutrofication (observed in the ponds of Nevropolis and East of Nevropolis on Mt. Kallidromo) and floristic composition degradation of the temporary ponds may be a result of litter accumulation and/or of disturbed interactions among the biotic communities due to various factors (e.g., infilling, trampling, shrub encroachment, overgrazing or lack of grazing, unidentified indirect modification of the water regime). Most of these problems are dealt with by subactions 1 and 2 of the present action and also by actions C.1 and C.3. This subaction will deal with problems identified by action A.3, caused by competition (e.g. by cutting or uprooting large helophytes) or predation (by eliminating the predator). Also, this subaction includes restoration of the populations of the species which are typical of the habitat 3170* (e.g., Myosurus minimus). The restoration will take place at the temporary ponds of Nevropolis and East of Nevropolis, and at any other pond where this is indicated according to action A.3. At the temporary ponds of Nevropolis, Louka and North of Trapeza, the restoration of floristic composition will be carried out in combination with the pilot establishment of Veronica oetaea* (action C.2). The plant material for the restoration will be provided by action C.7.
This action will complement actions C.1, C.2, and C.3 with necessary interventions for the integrated conservation of the temporary ponds on Mts. Oiti and Kallidromo. Erosion of the slopes with large inclinations over the ponds causes accumulation of sediment in the ponds, which results in reduction of the hydroperiod and burying of seeds. This problem is acute below the naked slopes of Greveno peak and also at the recently burned slopes N-NW of the Nevropolis pond. On the other hand, the running tap at Leivadies causes an increase of the hydroperiod of the pond; its removal was already administered in the Management Plan for the National Forest Park of Oiti (LIFE92 NAT/GR/013700).
Both modifications of the hydrological regime threaten the flora and fauna communities which are typical of habitat 3170* and are sensitive to modifications in the hydrological cycle. In addition, direct interventions for the restoration of biotic communities are necessary at the most disturbed ponds, where the amelioration of threats such as shrub encroachment and trampling may not be enough for the recovery of these communities. Finally, the methodology, which will be developed, will be a useful tool for temporary pond managers at a European level.
- Inhibition of the process of infilling at Greveno and Nevropolis, and of the process of permanent filling with water at Leivadies, as well as restoration of a favourable hydrological regime for habitat 3170*.
- Restoration of the biotic communities of habitat 3170* at all the temporary ponds of Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo.
- A manual with guidelines for the restoration of biotic communities in habitat 3170* based on the results of action D.1.
Note: Action C.4 targets the total area of the habitat in GR2440004 (4 ponds, circa 0.03 ha) and GR2440006 (3 ponds, circa 2.5 – 4.5 ha). Mapping data are not adequately precise, especially for GR2440006, so these areas are subject to correction during action A1.
This is a pilot restoration action, aiming to improve the conservation status and increase the area of the habitat of Juniperus foetidissima forests (9560*) on Mt. Oiti. It will be implemented according to the specifications of action A.7 and will start on the second year of the project.
Reinforcement of the population of Juniperus foetidissima will take place at the currently existing 9 ha of habitat 9560*. In this area, the improvement of the conservation status will include interventions aimed to improve the regeneration potential of Juniperus foetidissima (e.g., protection of seedling and sapling, and restoration of a favourable sex ratio).
The increase of the area of the habitat will include re-introduction of the habitat 9560* at 2 new locations, where it will be restored from scratch by planting of Juniperus foetidissima and keystone species. The reintroduction of the habitat 9560* is envisaged to take place at two sites (map 1): Greveno peak at an area of 200,000 – 250,000 m2 (20 – 25 ha) and Alykaina peak at an area of some 200,000 m2 (20 ha). These two sites are currently covered by heath and provide suitable conditions for the restoration of habitat 9560*, but the final selection of the restoration sites will be determined by action A.7.
Juniperus foetidissima new plants will be produced at the nurseries of NAGREF, starting at the first year of the project. Production of new plants will be made by inoculation of Juniperus foetidissima grafts from local trees to high-altitude cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) plants from Kriti (where there are native wild high-altitude cypress trees) and will continue throughout the project duration. The gender of the grafts will be selected so as to ensure the necessary male-female balance, as specified by action A.7. In the first year of the project, cypress seeds will be collected and cypress plantlets grown. In the second year inoculations will be made and inoculated plants will be grown in the nursery. In the third year young Juniperus foetidissima plants will be ready for planting. Before planting, the saplings will be transferred to the Botanical Garden of the Natural History Museum of Oiti for a 6-month acclimatization to local conditions. Then, approximately 2,000 Juniperus foetidissima saplings will be planted at Greveno and some 1,000 saplings will be planted at Alykaina. The restoration will also include planting of certain keystone species (e.g., Daphne oleoides, Crataegus orientalis), the selection and quantity of which will be specified by action A.7.
Planting will be done manually at planting pits of 0.40x0.40x0.40 m3 to 0.50x0.50x0.50 m3, made either by mechanical means or manually, depending on the inclination (dimensions may be altered as specified by action A.7). The layout for planting will be according to the specifications of action A.7. Irrigation will not be necessary because the dry season in these areas is short (less than two months), and a mixture of soil and expanded perlite will ensure adequate moisture for the young plants. The planting pits will be covered with a special plastic sheet in order to prevent the development of competing vegetation and to provide better soil moisture conditions. Reformation of the planting pits to improve water retention, if necessary, and replacement of plants that may have failed will take place in the autumn of the second year after planting. Thereafter, replenishment of the plantations will be made annually, as necessary.
Detailed recording of the whole process will be made and the results will be monitored by action D.3.
Action C.5 includes:
- Reinforcement of the population of Juniperus foetidissima at the currently existing 9 ha of habitat 9560*.
- Re-introduction of Juniperus foetidissima at 40 – 45 ha of newly created habitat 9560* at 2 locations where there is currently no habitat.
It is noted that action C.5 does not intend to re-introduce a threatened species, but a threatened habitat, Juniperus foetidissima forests. It is true that this includes reinforcement and re-introduction of the population of Juniperus foetidissima which is the characteristic species of the habitat, but the whole concept is different and the guidelines do not strictly apply in this case. Nevertheless, in brief, the conditions for re-introduction (as stated in Guidelines for Applicants) are met because:
- The areas selected are within the historical distribution range of both the species Juniperus foetidissima and the habitat, and they have the appropriate abiotic conditions regarding altitude, substrate, and climate.
- The justification of the re-introduction and the subject of threats are addressed in detail. We should note that the known threats, fire and inadequate regeneration, are addressed by the project. We believe that the above guarantee reasonably high chances of success (the main difficulties concern the propagation of the species).
- The action does not involve removal or translocation of wild source individuals, since we will reproduce and propagate the species ex situ and for this we will use genetic material from the local population.
- Action A.7 is a preparatory phase and the deliverables include a feasibility study; action D.3 includes a follow-up phase.
On Mt. Oiti, Juniperus foetidissima has suffered destructive human pressure because in the past its valuable rot-proof wood was used extensively in buildings and in the manufacture of agricultural tools. It is also believed that grazing and fires, especially in the past, restricted the distribution area of this habitat. In general, it is considered that habitat 9560* could have been more extended in the past on the skeletal limestone steep slopes of Mt. Oiti. This situation of 9560* with Juniperus foetidissima is similar in most, if not all, of its stations in Greece. Currently logging is illegal and of small magnitude (yet the impact is not negligible), and wild fires are not too frequent.
However, habitat 9560* is restricted to only 9 ha in Oiti and it is apparent that it cannot recover its area naturally. This may be due to the diminished regeneration potential of Juniperus foetidissima and to age-long grazing. Indeed, it is assumed that the most important threat for 9560* with Juniperus foetidissima in Greece, as well as in GR2440004, is that the natural regeneration of the species is reportedly poor to nil throughout the country. Observations of the reproductive biology of Juniperus foetidissima for several years at various stations in Greece have indicated that it maintains a very low percentage of sound seeds (< 5 %). The potential impacts of wild fires and Global Climatic Change are aggravated by the lack of regeneration. Thus, 9560* is a priority habitat type, which, although not imminently threatened in GR2440004, is vulnerable to a single destructive event such as an extensive fire, because of its small area and lack of regeneration.
Restoration, including population reinforcement and re-introduction to more locations, will improve the future prospects of this habitat. Moreover, the knowledge acquired from the pilot restoration on Mt. Oiti will be a valuable tool for similar efforts at other sites of Greece and of other European countries
- The area of Juniperus foetidissima forests on Mt. Oiti will be increased by approximately 40 ha.
- A manual with guidelines for the restoration of Juniperus foetidissima forests.
This action includes enhancement of the fire protection infrastructure on Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo. It will be implemented according to the specifications of action A.8 and will start in the second year of the project.
The proposed measures are:
- Construction of one fire guardhouse at the location Plakoto on Mt. Oiti (map 1) for the control of the NE part of the mountain and of one fire guardhouse on Mt. Kallidromo (map 2) on Gkioza summit.
- Construction of one or two artificial storage reservoirs close to springs, at the area of Nevropolis and at the church of Panagia over the village of Anavra on Mt. Kallidromo. The artificial storage reservoirs (better described as ponds) will be created by excavating small basins and will have a total capacity of circa 1,000 m3 and a total estimated surface of some 300 m2. The reservoirs will be open and it will be possible for fire-fighting helicopters to use them for refilling with water.
Wild fires (described under Threats), even if not frequent, pose a serious threat and may be destructive for the mountain conifer forests of Juniperus foetidissima (9560*) and Pinus nigra (9530*) because their post-fire regeneration ability is small. Also, fires result in increased erosion risk and consequently in increased infilling of the temporary ponds (3170*) and result in habitat loss for Tengmalm's Owl and the three woodpecker species (Dryocopus martius, Dendrocopos leucotos, and Picus canus).
Adequate mechanical equipment and personnel exist on Mt. Oiti, as well as four water tanks for the suppression of forest fires, but there is only one fire guardhouse. The establishment of a second fire guardhouse at Plakoto was one of the measures proposed in the Management Plan for the National Forest Park of Oiti (LIFE92 NAT/GR/013700). On Mt. Kallidromo, the fire protection infrastructure consists of one old fire guardhouse and one water tank near the Souvala pond.
- Fire frequency and range on Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo will be diminished.
Note: The whole area of sites GR42440004 (7,210 ha) and GR42440006 (6,885 ha) is expected to be safeguarded against fire after the implementation of action C6. The additional area safeguarded by C.6 compared to the area currently safeguarded is hard to estimate at this time. A reasonable estimate would be 30 – 50 % of the total area for GR2440004 and 60 – 80 % of the total area for GR2440006.
This action includes the creation and function of a seedbank of the keystone plant species of the target habitats, and the propagation of these species to plant for habitat restoration. The action will start at the first year of the project.
Collection of genetic material (seeds or ramets) of the keystone species of the target habitats of temporary ponds (3170*), mountain grasslands (6210* and 6230*), Juniperus foetidissima forests (9560*), and Pinus nigra forests (9530*):
The species and reproduction units to be collected for all habitats, except from 9530*, will be determined by actions A.3, A.5, and A.7. For the habitat 9530* Pinus nigra seeds will be collected. Collections will take place in the appropriate season for each plant species, and will be repeated for at least 3–4 years for the needs of plant replenishment at the project restoration sites (actions C.2, C.4, and C.5), and also because, in some species, the annual seed production is occasionally null or diminished.
Collections will start during the first year of the project with three rare plants typical of the temporary ponds: Veronica oetaea*, Myosurus minimus, and Ranunculus lateriflorus. The seeds or ramets of all species will be collected from more than one local populations on Mt. Oiti and Mt. Kallidromo, so as to achieve seed lots with maximum genetic diversity which will provide plants adapted to local conditions. Collection will be done either manually, for most herbs and shrubs, or by telescopic scissors for tall or inaccessible individuals or, where possible and appropriate, by gasoline aspirators or lawnmowers. The genetic material will be properly treated and stored or cultivated according to International Standards. Seed cleaning, separation and sorting will be done manually at the Seedbank of the UoA or at the faciities of NAGREF, as necessary.
Seeds of all species will be stored at the Seedbank of the UoA and other ramets will be stored at the “Alexander and Ioulia Diomedes Botanical Garden” in Athens. Germination treatments for the production of seedlings, where necessary for dormant seeds, will be administered at the facilities of the UoA. Cultivation of plants to be used for restoration (actions C.4 and C.5) will be done at the facilities of the “Alexander and Ioulia Diomedes Botanical Garden’. Before planting at the restoration sites the young plants will be transferred at the Botanical Garden of the Natural History Museum of Oiti for acclimatization to local conditions.
Note: There is no overlap between actions C.2 and C.7 regarding reintroduction of Veronica oetaea*. Action C.7 includes seed collection and storage, as well as seed germination testing to obtain information regarding the optimal germination conditions and timing of germination. Action C.2 includes sowing of the collected seeds at the reintroduction sites in the way and timing indicated by actions C.7 and A.4.
Ex situ conservation of genetic material is a complement of in situ conservation, necessary in order to provide long-term insurance against catastrophic events, and to facilitate plant re-introduction or population enhancement when necessary. For instance, after the destructive fires of 2007 in Greece, the reforestation of Pinus nigra forests was extremely difficult due to the lack of available seeds.
In addition, this action will provide the plant material to be used in the restoration actions of the project (actions C.2, C.4, and C.5).
- Seed-lots of all of the keystone species stored in the UoA Seedbank.
- Production of the plant material to be used for restoration of the target habitats.
- A manual with protocols for seed collection, handling, storage and seed germination, for the keystone species of all the target habitats.
- A manual with guidelines for plant growth and outplanting for the keystone species of habitats 3170* and 9560*.
The purpose of this action is to increase population size and expand the area of occurrence of Alectoris graeca Dryocopus martius, Dendrocopos leucotos, Picus canus and Aegolius funerus. This will be achieved by the installation of artificial nests for the woodpeckers and the owl; by the application of new forestry practices aiming towards preservation of nesting and feeding sites, as well as of food resources; and by the management of mountain grasslands and of selected rocky sites for Alectoris graeca. The action will start during the second year of the project.
There will be two axes of the conservation interventions, dependent on the specifications provided by action A.9:
- The conservation of natural nesting sites and their enrichment through the use of nesting boxes for the three woodpeckers and the owl.
- The preservation of food resources of the three woodpecker species, the maintenance of open hunting areas for Aegolius funerus, as well as habitat management for Alectoris graeca.
Preservation of nesting sites can only be achieved through protection of older trees, because all three woodpecker species require a rather large tree diameter for nesting. Aegolius funerus is dependent on natural cavities, found usually in older trees, or abandoned Dryocopus martius nests, which are of sufficient size. Mature trees, appropriate for nesting, will be located and marked, to prevent felling in the future. Forest tracts bordering torrents and streams are of particular interest for woodpeckers, since deciduous trees often appear there mixed with Abies cephalonica. The artificial nests will be installed in the areas recommended by the study, prior to the beginning of the breeding season in the third year of the program, thus increasing nesting site availability.
The conservation of food resources will be achieved through the preservation of old trees, as well as standing and fallen dead wood in the forest, for the three woodpecker species that feed on wood-boring insects; and through the maintenance and/or creation of appropriate open spaces and glades for Aegolius funerus.
Habitat management and conservation for Alectoris graeca will be mainly focused on the preservation and –where necessary– the upgrading of water resources for the species during the breeding season. Maintenance of selected grassland areas as an optimum feeding habitat for the species will also be carried out. The above actions will start after one or two breeding seasons of implementation of action A.9, in the second or in the third year of the project, and will be implemented for three years.
The locations of action C.8 cannot be foreseen accurately, since they will be specified by the results of action A.9. Nevertheless, all parts of action C.8 will take place within the boundaries of the site GR2440007. The methodology of the implementation will be reassessed and modified according to the monitoring results (action D.3).
The preservation of an effective population size for all target species is crucial for their survival and for the overall species diversity in the region. Action C.8, which aims at the preservation of nesting sites and food resources, will ensure the continued presence of these species in Mt. Oiti.
The population of Alectoris graeca in mainland Greece is quickly declining due to habitat deterioration/fragmentation, excessive and/or illegal hunting etc. The population of Picus canus on Mt. Oiti is the southernmost in Greece, and quite isolated from the few other populations. Dryocopus martius is a scarce resident, present at low densities wherever it occurs. Dendrocopos leucotos is more widespread but rare and very thinly distributed. Aegolius funerus has only been reported from 7 areas in Greece; its populations on Mt. Oiti and Mt. Parnassos are the southernmost and quite isolated.
Forest composition and structure determines the presence and population dynamics of woodland species. The forests on Mt Oiti used to be managed for wood production and high-volume mature and old trees were logged. So, today, many stands are even-aged and rather young, and do not provide adequate natural nesting and/or feeding sites for the target species. Dendrocopos leucotos and Picus canus are dependent on old-growth and all-aged stands; Dryocopus martius may be present in younger forest as well, provided that large trees of adequate trunk size are available. Both standing and fallen old trees are very important as a feeding habitat for the targeted woodpecker species. Improvement of their nesting/feeding habitat increases their life-long reproductive success.
Aegolius funereus is dependent on old forests too. It has been shown that its life-long reproductive success increases with the proportion of old forest in the territory; breeding success increases when old groves are combined with a higher proportion of clearings used as hunting areas; nesting boxes are regularly utilised in the absence of natural nesting sites.
The conservation of natural nesting sites by preserving old trees and altering forestry practices.
The increase of nesting sites through the installation of 100 artificial nesting boxes.
The conservation of food resources and the increase of nesting sites will lead to the increase population size and area occupancy.
A manual for bird conservation based on the methodology and results of the implemented actions.
The first three results are expected to influence positively the populations of the target bird species. The results are expected to become apparent during the period of monitoring (action D.4) and to be clearly evident in the long term after the end of the project. The manual for bird conservation will be available during the fifth year of the project and will be used by the staff responsible for action D.4 during the project. It will also be used by the staff of the Management Body as well as by the staff of the RST Forestry Service after the completion of the project for the long term monitoring and management of the target bird species. We expect that the manual will be also used in similar cases throughout Greece. The approximate target area for the actions is approximately 4,986 ha for the three woodpecker species; approximately 1,508 ha for Aegolius funereus; and approximately 865 ha for Alectoris graeca.
Note: It is well documented in the literature throughout Europe that the proposed actions have a positive effect on the target species. However, at this time it is very difficult to provide quantitative estimates regarding old tree protection, area of feeding habitat secured and target bird species populations. The area of old tree habitats (fallen and standing) is not precisely known, as there has been no relevant study in the site. An inventory and mapping of these is one of the main tasks of Action A.9. Similarly there is lack of recent fieldwork and knowledge for the target species, especially for Aegolius funerus for which there is only one recent record on Mt Oiti.