Economic adversity doesn't stop Greece protecting biodiversity



Posted on 11 March 2011  | 
Athens, Greece:  The Greek parliament yesterday took the bold step of voting in the country's first national biodiversity law – setting aside a preoccupation with the current unprecedented economic crisis to put in place safeguards for the future.

WWF, noting that the economic crisis is putting Greece's natural environment under increasing pressure, praised the courage and foresight of Greek Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Tina Birbili, the goverment and parlimentarians who stood by the legislation during a grueling debate over several weeks.

“WWF Greece has actively campaigned for this law which we consider an important step for nature conservation in Greece," said Demetres Karavellas, CEO of WWF Greece.

"Despite the views expressed by certain MPs, asking for more building rights within protected areas, the voted law is a sign of hope that Greece’s natural heritage will not be ignored or sacrificed in the quest for rapid financial gain.

“The greatest challenge however lies in implementing the provisions of this law. WWF stands ready to assist in making this happen.”

Urgent action now possible on rapid species decline

The law sets out plans for an integrated and science-based system of protected areas, with simple designation procedures and improved administrative support.  Urgent conservation measures will be able to be adopted in cases of rapid species decline and the framework for sanctions on crimes against biodiversity will be strengthened.

A new legal framework will be provided for the protection of small island wetlands, and conservation measures will also be set out for marine species and habitats.
 
And despite opposition in the parliament, new regulations will be established for building within the boundaries of Natura 2000 protected areas.

“This new law is an important tool in implementing critical European legislation such as the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives," said Tony Long, Director of the WWF European Policy Office.

"With the right vision of promoting and celebrating its wonderful natural heritage, investing in nature conservation should also assist Greece in finding a way out of the challenging financial crisis.”


Further information: Iason Kantas, Press officer, WWF Greece, Tel: +30 210 33 14 893, mob: +30 698 247 1724, i.kantas@wwf.gr


A more secure future for Dalmation Pelicans in Prespa Lake after Greece passes landmark biodiversity law
© WWF Greece - Andrea Bonnetti Enlarge

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