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Gramos and Rodopi - Implementation of Management Plans in Gramos and Rodopi Areas, Greece

LIFE99 NAT/GR/006498

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Georgios ANASTASOPOULOS
Tel: 30/31/554623
Fax: 30/31/553932

Project description:


After having implemented measures for the conservation of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) through two previous LIFE-Nature projects, ARCTUROS focused with this project on the conservation of six priority mountainous habitat types as well as the brown bear (about 28% of the total Greek population). The project’s areas were located in two large geographical regions of Greece, the Gramos and Rodopi mountain massifs (1 pSCI in Gramos and 6 pSCIs in Rodopi). The targeted habitat types (semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates, species-rich Nardus grasslands, active blanket bogs, tilio Acerion ravine forests, residual alluvial forests, pallas’s pine forests) were facing a series of threats, the most important of which were extensive cattle grazing and illegal logging. In addition, forest road construction and forest fires have resulted in the degradation of most of the targeted habitat types. A Specific Environmental Study had been elaborated for each of the two areas within the context of the previous LIFE-Nature bear project; these studies had been submitted to the competent authority, the Ministry of Environment.


The project aimed at the protection of the aforementioned 6 priority habitat types and the brown bear which is vitally related to three of the priority habitat types (Tilio Acerion ravine forests, Residual alluvial forests, Pallas' pine forests). The expected results of the project were as follows:

  • Contribute to the conservation and sustainable management of priority habitat types of key importance for the brown bear species at the national level.
  • Contribute to the maintenance of the brown bear’s population at viable levels within project areas.
  • Ensure the connectivity between targeted priority habitat types and species at a transborder scale, by placing contiguous critical sectors under specific conservation and management status.
  • Trigger the creation of a specific monitoring infrastructure at a local scale for the long-term management of targeted priority habitat types and species.
  • Upgrade information level of involved parties with emphasis on specific target groups.
  • In order to achieve these results, a series of actions were planned, some of which were a continuation of the previous project for the protection of the brown bear, while others had been identified in the Specific Environmental Studies. Among them are studies on the distribution and management of the habitat types targeted, plantation of wild-fruit-trees, closure of forest roads, provision of shepherd dogs, provision of labour animals for forest management, fencing of areas, wardening of the project areas, pilot management of Pallas’ pine forests, monitoring of the targeted species, and public awareness activities including an innovative educational campaign, an extensive media campaign, and the production of new communication material.


    Overall, the project achieved its objective as well as the expected results and can be considered as a successful conservation case. Concerning the habitats targeted, the main actions undertaken as planned during the project were the establishment of management guidelines for all 6 habitat types, the fencing of 4 locations with active blanket bogs in Rodopi and the spatial designation of three habitat types through signboards (alluvial forests, ravine forests, black pines), the pilot implementation of the Black pine management plan and training seminars for foresters. A major success was the integration of the Black pine management guidelines elaborated by the project in the Kastoria Forest Services’ ten-year management plan. In addition, efforts were made to widely disseminate the results of the management plan study as well as the results of its pilot implementation; this was achieved through direct contacts with forest services, training workshops and the publication of a booklet with management guidelines. Actions regarding the bear also took place as foreseen (monitoring, provision of shepherd dogs and electrical fences). The monitoring confirmed that bear populations in both areas seemed to be stable. The population was estimated to be between 20-40 individuals in Gramos, and between 20-25 individuals in Rodopi in 2000 and 2001. Besides, human-related mortality was found to be below the critical 4% threshold. A robust wardening system was crucial for the limitation of this very important threat (and of many other threats, such as habitat deterioration, illegal activities, forest fire control etc). During the project, the forest services intensified their wardening efforts and part of this action was undertaken by project volunteers, who were properly trained, and who conducted a good monitoring of human presence and human activities. A significant number of violations were recorded. Concerning the prevention measures, a total of 60 shepherd dogs were given (38 in Gramos, and 22 in Rodopi). The majority of livestock owners (52%) seemed to be very satisfied with the protection thus offered and demands from farmers and livestock owners exceeded by far the available supply. A total of 40 fences were also purchased and distributed. The issue of transborder connectivity was tackled for the first time. A study on connectivity with border areas was elaborated by the project and proposals for the enlargement of the Bosdovetsi National park in Albania was made. Contacts, seminars, training sessions were organised with the Balkan NGOs and other structures involved in nature conservation. Through these actions, Arcturos managed to effectively transfer significant experience and know-how to NGOs in Albania, FYROM and Bulgaria. An extensive mass media campaign, targeting local, regional and national media was organised. A total of 18 press releases were sent to the mass media on topics such as the presentation of the project, the case of bear poaching, agricultural insurance system, bogs, seminar on harvesting practices, etc., and three press interviews were given. In addition, a total of 212 articles appeared in local and national newspapers, and 55 articles in magazines, while the project was presented on 68 TV and 66 radio shows. The project also produced an educational programme of great quality, targeting school students in the project areas, with the objective of making them realise the ecological, social, and cultural values of the areas where they live. This programme was also tested in neighbouring Balkan countries. Finally, the beneficiary dedicated a significant part of his efforts in the "surveillance" of activities in the project areas and in general in the bear distribution’s range, that could have a negative impact on the natural environment. He followed particularly closely the evolution of the Farmers’ National Insurance system in order to guarantee that wild animal damage (mainly wolf and bear) would remain in the new regulation that is under elaboration. Throughout the project, he also followed very closely the Ministry of Environment’s steps for the creation of protected areas according to the National legislation.


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Forests
Habitats - Grasslands


endangered species‚  protected area‚  animal damage‚  forest fire‚  public awareness campaign‚  monitoring system‚  nature conservation‚  management plan‚  mountainous area

Target species

 Ursus arctos     

Target Habitat types

  • 7110 - Active raised bogs
  • 9180 - "Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines"
  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
  • 9510 - Southern Apennine Abies alba forests
  • 9530 - (Sub-) Mediterranean pine forests with endemic black pines
  • 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)
  • 6230 - "Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)"

Natura 2000 sites




Coordinator ARCTUROS
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description ARCTUROS is a non-profit civil company based in Greece, aiming at the Protection and Management of the Natural Environment and Wildlife. The society's activities started focusing on the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) because this species gives the opportunity for a global management of the mountain forest eco-systems.

ARCTUROS' main aim is to promote the co-operation between organisations in Greece and the Balkans regarding conservation matters for the Natural Environment and its wildlife.

Partners Region of Western Macedonia Region of Ipeiros Region of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace


Project reference LIFE99 NAT/GR/006498
Duration 01-JAN-2000 to 28-FEB -2003
Total budget 1,912,226.47 €
EU contribution 1,147,335.88 €
Project location Anatoliki Makedonia, Thraki(Ellas) Dytiki Makedonia(Ellas) Ipeiros(Ellas)


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