To report on progress to the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy, the European Commission extracted relevant information from the EU Member States’ 5th national reports to the CBD. Of the 5 countries which had not finalized their national reports at the time of the synthesis (26th of August 2015), Greece, Malta, Portugal and Lithuania provided information to be included in the synthesis.

The 5th national reports were examined, and relevant information on selected actions under Targets 1-6 of the EU biodiversity strategy was directly copied. Thus, the information presented here is in the original language and wording of the 5th national reports.

The focus was on information that is particular to the respective Member State rather than referencing EU wide information. In addition, only information that is not directly reported to the European Commission by Member States was retrieved from the reports. Each Member State had the opportunity to review the synthesis of its report and to provide additional input. For more information, please view here.

EU target 1

Fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives

(Please note that information from Member States in relation to Action 1a is supplied to the European Commission via other reports. To avoid duplication of reporting, information relating to Action 1a has not been included in this report)

Action 1c: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)

The Natura 2000 network in Greece consists of 241 SCI-SAC and 202 SPA, covering 27,2% of land and 6,1% of territorial waters.

28 Management Bodies (MB) for Natura 2000 sites currently operate, covering in total appr. 30% of the surface area of the sites. In Natura 2000 sites with designated MB, conservation, monitoring, environmental education, public awareness activities etc were co-funded during the reporting period by the European Fund for Regional Development and national funds.

The Biodiversity Law in 2011 consolidated the N2K sites in the national system of protected areas through their designation as “Habitats and Species Protection Areas” – distinguished in Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and/or Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Around 25% of the surface area of SAC has been additionally designated as a protected area of a different type (National Park, Nature Reserve Area). An additional percentage of the surface area is legally protected by forest legislation (National Forests, Aesthetic Forests, Wildlife Refuges, Protected Monuments). In addition, for certain sites, statutory and administrative measures, including the suspension of construction works and the protection of mountain massifs have been legally established in 2011.

By Law no 3937/2011 (Official Journal 60/A/2011) on biodiversity conservation (art. 4., par. 1a), 239 out of the total 241 SCIs have been designated as SACs. The two remaining SCIs were included in the community list in 2012.

Creation of one new protected area and respective Management Body took place in 2012.

General regulations aiming to protect and conserve the Natura 2000 network have been set in Law 3937/2011. Therein, the general regulations applied for the construction of buildings in land plots located outside urban settlements have been restricted when these land plots are within the Natura 2000 network providing them with a safety net over the pressure of urban sprawling. According to this law, driving vehicles off the road is prohibited in areas that host priority habitat types, or are considered as ecologically vulnerable (e.g. seasonal wetlands, sand dunes, streams, pastures, forests) and aquacultures have also been prohibited over posidonia beds within Natura 2000 sites. Moreover, small island wetland areas in SACs have benefited from a Presidential Decree (no 229/2012), that protects and highlights the values of small island wetlands.

The Coast Guard of the Ministry of Mercantile Marine patrols the marine area against illegal activities and addresses potential pollution incidents, for which there are contingency plans and equipment available.

Forests and forested areas, including sclerophyllous scrub, grasslands, temperate heath and scrub, are protected by forest legislation and are sustainably managed by Forest Services, through the application of forest management plans. Provisions for sustainable forest management are included in Law 3208/2003 (Official Journal 303/A/2003). Moreover, Forest Services apply each year a specific program to combat illegal loggings and to address threats from fires, encroachments, land clearings, illegal hunting, etc.

With regard to measures for water dependent habitats and species, 12 out of 14 river basin management plans according to the Water Framework Directive have been approved by competent authorities and the remaining 2 are in the process of public consultation and approval. With law no 3983/2011 (Official Journal 144/?/2011) the Greek legislation was harmonized with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/?C.

Biodiversity knowledge has been enhanced during the period. The percentage of species of community interest with unknown conservation status has dropped significantly from 48% to 11%, due to fieldwork efforts.

Pursuant to national legislation (Law 4014/2011), environmental licensing in Natura 2000 sites requires the drafting of an extra issue of Special Ecological Assessment, in order to incorporate the requirements of Article 6.3 of the Habitats Directive.

Action 2: Adequate financing of Natura 2000

Progress in biodiversity conservation was made since 2010 with the National Operational Program “Environment – Sustainable Development 2007 – 2013”, which included a specific section on the “Protection of natural environment and biodiversity” (Priority axis 9). Through this program and also through Regional Operational Programs and National Funding the operation of the 28 Management Bodies for protected areas and their actions for biodiversity conservation was supported. Through the national Operational Program projects for surveillance of conservation status of habitat types and species of community interest were also funded.

Implementation of the program generated significant knowledge and valuable experience for the Ministry of Environment and allowed the continuation of work of the first Management Bodies in protected areas.

A number of management projects were carried out with funding from Life – Nature. These projects were mainly implemented by NGOs, stakeholders and institutes.

The Greek Prioritized Action Framework was completed in December 2014.

EU target 2

Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services

Action 6a: Ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure

Protected areas cover around 12% of the terrestrial part (in–situ conservation), as reported to the European Common Database of Designated Areas. The Natura 2000 sites include 163 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) according to the Birds Directive and 239 Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) according to the Habitats Directive covering more than 21% of the terrestrial part of the country.

Restoration and/rehabilitation of degraded habitats and species was carried out within some protected areas. Examples are the big restoration project for Lake Carla that was funded by the National Operational Program “Environment – Sustainable Development 2007 – 2013” and the restoration of burned fir forest in Parnitha National Park. Other restoration projects were funded by Life-Nature, like the Restoration and Conservation of the Priority Habitat Type *9562 Grecian Juniper Woods in Prespa National Park, Greece.

EU target 3

Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity

Target 3a: Agriculture

With regard to the mainstreaming of biodiversity concerns into agricultural policy, it should be noted that Greece implements the Operational Programme for Rural Development 2000 – 2009. As part of its contribution to achieving the objectives of policy related to agriculture and the environment, the axis 3 of the Operational Programme includes a number of agri-environmental measures with the broader following aims

The application of farming practices which are compatible with the protection and improvement of environment, natural resources, soil and genetic diversity.

The reduction of negative impacts of farming on the environment and particularly on water quality, soil and biodiversity.

The introduction of sustainable practices, beyond the normal for soil protection and control of physical, chemical and biological degradation.

Action 8a & 8b: Environmental public goods in the CAP and GAEC cross-compliance

Good Agricultural Practice codes and regulations and standards of cross-compliance are applied, that promote environmentally friendly production together with specific actions for the conservation of biodiversity. Regarding agriculture, Greece implements the Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003 that consider, inter alia, to avoid the abandonment of agricultural land and to ensure that will maintain land in good agricultural and environmental condition.

With regard to agricultural cross-compliance measures, Greece has included a number of GAEC Minimum Level of Maintenance measures (as referred to in article 5 of. Council Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003), that may help to protect biodiversity within farmland habitats. These include minimum stocking density levels for pasture land (which are set at 0.2 LU/hectare for all categories of animal, unless more specific rules exist at regional level).

The ploughing of permanent pasture is also prohibited (except in cases where an environmental or archaeological need is demonstrated) and farmers must not destroy terraces, walls, dykes and natural banks bordering parcels.

The Rural Development Programmes (RDP), the Axis 2 budget of the RDP accounts for about 33.8 % of public RDP expenditure (i.e. EAFRD allocations plus co financing). The majority of Axis 2 funds are focused on agri-environment payments.

Action 10: Agricultural genetic diversity

Greece, with its rich biodiversity in genetic level, has a high responsibility for conserving genetic resources and has taken relevant actions. The current framework includes PD 80 (OJ 40/A/1990) on the protection of plant genetic material of the country, PD 434 (OJ 248/A1995), which provides measures for the conservation and protection of indigenous breeds of livestock.

Greece has ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Organization (Law 3165/2003) and implements its provisions. There are also action plans and commitments of the Food and Agriculture Organization (eg the Global Plan of Action for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, the Global Plan of Action on Genetic Resources of Farm Animals) and national reports and strategies to FAO that set out priorities for action (eg The Greek strategy for the sustainable management of genetic resources of domestic animals 2003, 2nd national report on the status of plant genetic resources for food and Agriculture 2006).

Greece implements the Community Regulation 870/2004, laying down a Community program for the conservation, characterization, collection and utilization of genetic resources in agriculture and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1467/94. The regulation applies to plant, animal and microbial genetic resources that are or could be used in agriculture.

The Bank of genetic material that the National Agricultural Research Institute holds since 1981 should be mentioned. The Ministry of Agriculture, through the National Agricultural Research Foundation, in collaboration with research institutions and commitments under the Food and Agriculture Organization, is implementing inventory, characterization, documentation and evaluation of plant genetic resources and genetic resources of livestock. The country is committed to continue the effort with a view to setting up a database with lists of genetic resources held today a) in situ, including for conservation of genetic resources in situ / on farm b) collections of ex situ (gene banks) and the average in situ (resources).

Target 3b: Forestry

Sustainable management practices of forests in Greece have been introduced gradually since 1920, especially in terms of logging and grazing, and there is strong legal protection for forests and woodlands. Management plans are implemented for 10 years for forest complexes, by the pertinent Forest Services. These plans ensure that the principles of sustainable forest management are applied, together with the protection of forests from fires. Moreover, the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Forests and the optimal use of available measures under the reformed Common Agricultural Policy, among other things, support the implementation of the above.

Greece participates in the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) which is a high-level political initiative ( for the protection and sustainable management of forests in Europe.

Action 12: Biodiversity in forest management plans

Should be noted that there is also a small allocation of funding for Natura 2000 forest measures (0.2 % of total EAFRD expenditure). A significant amount of funding is allocated for first afforestation measures on agricultural land (2.8 % of total EAFRD expenditure) or non-agricultural land (0.6 % of EAFRD).

The natural environment and biodiversity in Greece have been severely hit by fires, those of July and August 2007 being of dramatic proportions. Fires in the Peloponnese, Attica and Euboea burnt a total of around 275,000 hectares, of which more than 150,000 hectares were forest land and more than 30,000 ha Natura 2000 sites. Species, such as Abies cephalonica the Greek fir, and important habitat types and protected species populations were heavily affected. The forest fires did not only affect the burnt areas themselves. They affected the situation of the Natura 2000 network and the conservation status of habitat types and species in Greece and maybe across Europe, to the extent that these areas host important, unique and rare species and habitats.Greece has assessed the situation and has started its efforts to restore the burnt forests. Natural regeneration is foreseen in many areas with mediterranean pine forests such as those with Pinus halepensis, Pinus brutia and in evergreen – broadleved forests. In other cases restoration is underway. It should be mentioned that on Mount Parnonas, in the Peloponnese, the mediterranean pine forests with black pine (priority habitat according to the EC Habitats Directive) will be restored through a structured approach, taking into account biodiversity concerns with EC cofinancing (LIFE +). This approach will then be demonstrated in other areas as well.

EU target 4

Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources and ensuring good environmental status of the marine environment

Action 13a: Fish stock management

In fisheries, Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006 for the sustainable management of fisheries resources in the Mediterranean is applied. In Greece legal restrictions are imposed regarding the use of fishing gear and methods, years of fishing, types of fishing vessels, and restrictions on the size of various species of fish, molluscs, gastropods, crustaceans, and stricter measures are applied for tuna, swordfish, shells and corals.

Action 14b: Adverse impacts on fish stocks, species, habitats and ecosystems

According to the Decision 167378/07, (OJ 241/D/2007), fishing with towed gear is prohibited in areas with Posidonia medows (priority habitat type according to the Habitats Directive, among others)

The newly adopted EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires the progressive development of certain marine strategies in order to achieve “Good Environmental Status” in all European seas by 2020. Greece is in the process of establishing the appropriate National Plans in order to follow the strict time schedule of MSFD implementation plan.

EU target 5

Combat Invasive Alien Species

The country prohibits the import of all alien species to be farmed/used as baits, and regulates trade in some alien species through CITES regulations. Furthermore, the Sanitary Committee may decide to control introduced animal species.

As regards IAS research, a lot has been done by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) on marine IAS, including the publication of an updated list of marine alien species in Hellenic waters. A network of marine researchers working on marine IAS has been set up under the name ELNAIS including nine research Institutes / Universities and more than 34 Greek scientists currently carrying out relevant research.

In November 2012 the Ellenic Network on Aquatic Invasive Species (ELNAIS), joined EASIN, the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN), that was created with the aim to provide easy access to accurate information on alien species in Europe. EASIN allows the retrieval of spatial information from existing online data providers in order to produce integrated georeferenced distribution maps of alien species in Europe; this has significantly increased the available georeferenced information on marine/estuarine alien species in Greek waters.

Terrestrial invasive alien species, research has been carried out by individual researchers, with 21 listed as experts under the project “Delivering Alien Invasive Species for Europe (DAISIE)”

EU target 6

Help avert global biodiversity loss

  • The figures for CITES permits for 2005 and 2006 indicate the comparably high level of trade in CITES species. The number of import documents issued in 2005 and 2006 was 639 and 797 respectively.
  • Ten (10) permit applications were denied in 2005 and one (1) in 2006.
  • The number of seizures increased from 8 in 2003/04 to 15 in 2005/06.
  • National capacity was built through hiring of more staff, purchase of technical equipment for monitoring/enforcement and computerisation.
  • Microchip-reading devices were purchased and disseminated to all the regional management authorities for facilitating controls.
  • Advice/guidance and training was provided to the Management Authority, training was provided to the public and written advice/guidance was provided to the staff of enforcement authorities and traders.

Action 18a: Resources for global biodiversity conservation

  • With regard to supporting developing countries, several programmes and projects have been implemented in the framework of the Bilateral Programme of Development Assistance and Cooperation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Its bilateral aid programme is focused on 21 priority countries, with a high concentration in the Balkan and the Black Sea region. The country is already considering possibilities for increasing its development aid activity in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Greece’s bilateral programme is focused on a limited number of sector priorities, which are in line with its overall objective of poverty reduction.