Bird conservation in Greece’s Dadia Forest

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Greece

A WWF Greece volunteer working in the forest of Dadia. Greece.
© WWF Greece

Summary

The rich forests of Dadia, near the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis, are on one of the two main bird migration routes in Europe. It is renowned as one of 2 remaining European feeding and breeding grounds for rare raptors such as the black and griffin vultures. The forest provides protection for the vultures' long reproduction period.

WWF has been working in the forest since 1992, running programmes to protect and monitor the bird species, conserve raptor populations, raise public awareness and ensure a sustainable level of tourist activity.

Background

The origins of this project date back to 1979, when WWF and IUCN funded a conservation study in the region. Since 1992, WWF Greece has maintained a permanent local unit, which has initiated and implemented a series of important conservation actions. The unit’s work focuses on the implementation of a scientific monitoring scheme, the promotion of scientific research and the development of nature tourism activities. At the same time, the team has developed an environmental awareness programme for the public and has trained local people in conservation and awareness issues.

The project team has initiated and implemented a series of important actions in various related sectors.

Examples include:

- Execution of a Special Environmental Study (SES) for the Dadia reserve with an accompanying Specific Management Plan (SMP) for the core areas aimed at the conservation of fauna (1995).
- Signing by Ministries of both SES and SMP (1998).
- Implementation of SMP by the Forest Service, supported scientifically by the WWF Dadia team (1999-2003).
- Long-term monitoring of the raptors and their habitat and of human activities.
- Promotion of research for the area, establishing collaboration with Greek and foreign universities.
- Ecotourism activities, such as creation of an exhibition, running the Dadia Information Centre, construction of paths and other nature tourism infrastructure.
- Environmental awareness.
- Training of local people aiming to empower different target groups such as guides, students, decision-makers and employees of the Evros Forest Services for the development of tourism.

WWF Greece has supported local communities, both financially and in an advisory capacity, in the planning and development of activities, which has led to a rejuvenation of the Dadia region as a whole. In fact, the Dadia forest reserve stands out as a unique example in Greece in the way in which nature conservation can go hand-in-hand with the socio-economic development of ecologically sensitive areas.

WWF Greece has developed a long-term collaboration with conservation groups from neighbouring countries which host black vulture habitats (such as Bulgaria and Croatia). WWF Greece also collaborates with the Black Vulture Conservation Foundation (BVCF), since the black vulture population in Dadia is the last in the South Balkans.

Objectives

- Recreate a critical hunting habitat for raptors, maintaining and enhancing core activities important for the viability of the habitat: scientific monitoring, dissemination of scientific results and data, and core management activities, such as the provision of information and consultations to decision-makers

- Generate awareness and disseminate results.

- Promote the integration of the habitat with neighbouring sites.

- Work to strengthen the operation of the management authority and relevant political lobbying.

Solution

Over the 4 years of the project, specific activities will be followed by an evaluation process.

Following the conclusion of the LIFE project (Conservation of Birds of Prey in the Dadia Forest Reserve), work will begin on the evaluation and revision of the current scientific monitoring plan in order to produce a scaled-down and more focused monitoring plan.

Further to the scientific monitoring, efforts will focus on analysing, mainstreaming and disseminating the wealth of data collected during the previous years of the project.

Core management activities, such as the provision of information and consultations with decision-makers, the monitoring of economic activities and development projects in the area, the collection and rehabilitation of injured raptors, the participation in international networks, will be continued.

The Dadia habitat constitutes part of a wider ecological network, containing other sites of the Evros Prefecture, as well as areas of the neighbouring countries. Efforts for the promotion of this ‘common ground’, as well as efforts for the cultivation of cross-border cooperation schemes, have already taken place and will be further developed.

The official establishment of the Dadia National Park Management Body has constituted one of the major successes of WWF Greece in the area. As yet, the management body is not functional. Even when fully functional, major problems regarding know-how, funding and administrative structures will remain.

WWF Greece currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Dadia National Park Management Body. Through this position, coordination between the local activities of WWF Greece and those of the management body will be pursued. Once the management body is in a position to hire scientific personnel and commence on its management activities, WWF Greece will assume major responsibility for building the capacity of the management authority.

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