Copyrights: Έλενα Ερωτοκρίτου

This preparatory action is divided into two sub-actions which:

  • compose an inventory of the locations of the habitat types and species that are included in Annexes of Directive 92/43/EEC, determining their exact boundaries / distribution in the field and their mapping;
  • conduct a survey to accurately identify and determine the threats and pressures directly and indirectly affecting the habitats’ and species’ vitality and the detailed mapping of these threats and pressures.

The overall objective of this action is to enhance nature conservation on privately owned land in Natura 2000 sites. The active engagement of land-owners in the management of Natura 2000 sites will only bring benefits, by improving the conservation status of habitats and species and by enhancing the long term sustainability of the Natura 2000 network. The concept of land stewardship will be examined further and explored for its potential implementation in Cyprus.

This preparatory action is to be carried out by the Game & Fauna Service (GFS) and BirdLife Cyprus (BC) in Phase A of the project. Detailed parameters for the studies outlined below will be set by the GFS and BC, with a combination of external assistance and work by officers of the GFS and BC, plus work by other project partners, used to complete the studies. Consultation from other departments such as the DE and DF will be conducted.

Favourable Reference Values (FRVs) and Conservation Targets derived from these have already been set for the qualifying species (‘trigger’ species) for the 30 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) of Cyprus. However, there are some knowledge gaps relating to specific ecological requirements of some of these trigger species. These ‘gaps’ relate mostly to the specific requirements of some species for feeding, nesting and resting, as well as quantification of threats. Filling these ‘gaps’ will allow the carrying out of targeted conservation actions to improve the status of these trigger species at specific SPAs, enabling the achievement of species and site-specific conservation targets by the end of this 10-year project. The knowledge gaps relate to specific trigger species and to specific SPAs were identified under a government-funded project to set FRVs and draw up management plans for Cyprus’s 30 SPAs, completed in 2013.

This action involves the development of action plans for Invasive Alien Species (IAS) either per species or per taxonomic group for species that have common pathways and/or require similar management strategies. The plans will include a list of actions to tackle pathways of introduction, measures to apply at initial invasion stages to eradicate populations of IAS, measures to manage widely spread IAS and measures to restore impacted and damaged habitats and ecosystems.

The national list of IAS will catalogue both species that are present at initial invasion stages and widely spread species, as well as species that are not yet present but whose introduction shall be prevented because of their expected detrimental impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems in Cyprus. Regarding the candidate IAS of national concern, a preliminary survey will collect data on distribution in cells of 10 km2. Results from this preparatory work will inform the decision-making process on the need of including these species in the national list. At a second stage, finer scale maps and density data (cells of 1 km2) will be established for IAS of national concern to determine their distribution and the targeted management measures to be applied under action C9.

The aim of this action should be to quantitatively and quantitatively assess the extent to which fishing measures and in particular restrictions in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are effective by comparing them to other Natura 2000 sites with no protection in place. This assessment should take place in two Natura 2000 areas. in the MPA of Cavo Greko and the planned MPA at Kakoskali (Akamas).. The assessment should take place over a two-year period where both scientific data collection using classic on-board, harbour and logbook surveys as well as underwater visual census methodologies to compare fish biodiversity and biomass in both protected with non-protected zones. An in depth assessment of the fishing pressure by all professional activities as well as recreational fishing activity should be assessed.

The aim of this action is to create a digital and web-based database for all species (flora and fauna) occurring in Cyprus. In this database updated information (regarding biodiversity) from the competent authorities, universities/ research institutes and NGOs will be included in the database. During the current project, the Database will include data for flora and fauna species included in the Report for the Article 17 of the Directive 92/30/EEC.

This action will implement the Action Plan developed in Action A2 for the establishment of a management structure for Natura 2000 site management. In particular, this action will take the necessary administrative and regulatory steps for the establishment of the selected structure, secure funds for its establishment and operation, implement needed procurement procedures and obtain appropriate staff and infrastructure for the operation of the structure at pilot scale, train staff, operate the structure at pilot scale for a period of 5 years, develop an Action Plan for the long term operation of the structure.

This action will implement the outcome of Action A3 in a pilot area so as to see in practice its effectiveness. The main purpose of this action is to apply an innovative method for land Natura 2000 management. The pilot area will be chosen according to the area of the private land in the Natura 2000 site or sites and the consensus reached from land owners and users.

This demonstration action will aim to create conditions for establishment of future facilities on keeping seized or captured animal Invasive Alien Species (IAS). The action will be implemented in approved Border Inspection Posts (BIP) and in other sites that will be deemed necessary for provisional keeping of these animals until their transportation into more permanent facilities. The action will explore possible solutions for keeping specific taxa of animals that are seized as non-compliant, such as cages for mammals, aquaria for fish with special requirements, and tanks for terrapins and turtles.

The aim of this action is to develop an integrated monitoring system for habitats and species targeting to assist the implementation of Article 17 of the Habitats Directive (HD). The action’s aim is to set up a monitoring scheme, according to Art.11 of the HD, to evaluate and report the status of habitats and species, the area they occupy, their range, population size for species and any changes in their conservation status, every six years. The monitoring system should include observations and assessments of the status and the changes occurring in the biological components of the protected sites of the Natura 2000, as well as outside the protected sites. It should include an assessment of the effectiveness of applied nature conservation methods, including the observation of natural habitats and plant and animal species, for which a Natura 2000 area was established under Article 6 of the HD. Furthermore, the monitoring should enable the assessment of the nature conservation status of natural habitats and species of Community importance and help to evaluate the effectiveness of measures applied to protect them.

This action is designed to measure the effectiveness of the concrete conservation actions to the implementation of the Prioritized Action Framework (PAF) for Natura 2000 network in Cyprus during the formal reporting of the project and 5 years after the end of the project (to be included in the After-LIFE Plan). The action will lead to the elaboration of a Monitoring Protocol of the implementation of PAF’s Actions and will be complementary to the other “Protocols” (Action F.1).

The aim of this action is to identify and assess the socio-economic impact of the project’s actions on the target audiences and stakeholders, as well as on the local economy and population in the areas within/ near the Natura 2000 network. In addition, the current action aims to identify and assess the project’s impact on ecosystem functions in the targeted site.

The aim of this action is to promote public awareness and information on the significance of the importance of the Natura 2000 network. The ultimate goal is to change the perception and behaviour of the public towards the importance of the Natura 2000 protected sites. According to the EU Directives 92/43/EEC and 2009/147/EC whose purpose is to conserve the European wildlife and natural habitats, Member States are invited to contribute towards the aforementioned objective. The implementation of the proposed communication activities is of paramount importance as the target audiences and the stakeholders shall be invited to commit in an effort to reach the underlined objective. Also, the core actions of the project contribute to the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 according to their Target 1 (Actions 1 & 2) and Target 2 (Action 5). The action includes the elaboration of a Communication Plan and the implementation of the related Campaign.

The purpose of this action is to establish networks between the proposed project and other relevant LIFE and non-LIFE projects. Networking and exchanging experiences with organizations from abroad on the approaches they have used to implement similar LIFE IP projects, is considered very important for the successful implementation of the project. Networking will provide the project with significant knowledge and experience on the most effective ways of managing Natura 2000 Network and biodiversity therein.

This activity will also enable the stimulation and international exchange of ideas and experience between consortia that have been working or are currently working on similar topics concerning management and conservation of natural habitats, flora and fauna species.

The action aims to the development of two guides for the habitat types present in Cyprus and specifically a Handbook and a Red Data Book (RDB).

This Action aims on the effective administrative, scientific and financial coordination and proper implementation of the project, as well as to secure the continuation of specific activities after the end of the project, through the preparation of an After-LIFE Plan.       

The action aims to map and describe existing organizational structures for the management of protected areas / biodiversity, map capacities and gaps, identify potential organisational systems, examine applicability and analyse advantages and disadvantages, define a sustainable mechanism for securing staff resources and competences for nature management on-the-field operations including operational procedures and financing, develop a participatory approach to Natra 2000 site management with emphasis on engaging and involving Local Authorities and NGOs.

The development of selected Habitats and Species Action Plans listed in the Habitats Directive, intend to be used as a tool for identifying priority measures for restoration across their range. They will provide information about ecological requirements, the conservation status, pressures and threats and key actions that are required to improve their conservation status.

The following species / habitats have been preliminary identified as important for prioritization:

2 snakes: Hierophis cypriensis, Natrix natrix cypriaca

2 insects: Euplagia quadripunctaria, Propomacrus cypriacus

1 mammal (bat): Rousettus aegyptiacus

3 turtles: Mauremys rivulata, Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas

4 plants: Astragalus macrocarpus subsp. lefkarensis*, Phlomis brevibracteata, Crepis pusilla and Ophrys kotschyi*.

6 freshwater habitats: Platanus orientalis (92C0), Salix alba (92A0), Nerio- tamaricetea (92D0), Mediterranean temporary ponds (*3170) and Molinio-Holoschoenion (6420) and Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sands (1310)

4 coastal habitat types: Embryonic shifting dunes (2110), Annual vegetation of drift lines (1210) and Malcolmietalia dune grassland (2230) and Brachypodietalia dune grassland (2240) (sand dunes). One action plan will be created for the coastal habitat types.      

Preparatory Action A.4 aims at filling the knowledge gaps and provide for a more species-specific and habitat-specific management schemes that will be more focused and detailed on the “needs” of the targeted taxa and habitats.

The aim of the action is the establishment of the conceptual framework in which the methodology will be developed, based on the existing methods, drawing examples mainly from Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) assessment for Europe (Maes et al., 2014-2016 ESMERALDA) but also the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA 2011). The final goal of the action is the development of a methodology specifically adapted to the local conditions (e.g. ecosystem types, drivers, impacts, etc.) and the establishment of the CY National Ecosystem Assessment Method (CY NEA).

In the related to Nature Conservation Cypriot Scientific Community, it is generally acknowledged that deeper knowledge and improved skills into more specific issues by all involved parties is a necessity in order to improve effectiveness and efficiency of Biodiversity Policies, Nature Directives and relevant National Legislation already in place. Key players involved in consultations, assessments, evaluations, law enforcement, NGOs, protected area management, community involvement, local outreach, etc., need to build and upgrade their capacities to become even more proficient in their role. Under this Action, a tailored made Capacity Building and Training Action Plan will be drafted on issues identified and assessed as “Opportunities for Improvement” per stakeholder groups of common interests and levels of influence, after deciding their desired engagement strategy in Protected Area Management. Special evaluation tools such as stakeholder analysis and mapping into interest and influence groups, together with capacity building and training needs assessment identification tools for recognizing knowledge gaps and opportunities of improvement, will be performed.

Action A8 involves the formulation of an Action Plan for Capacity Building and Training. This preparatory action will provide a holistic and integrated perspective of the needs for improvement of the current knowledge on the enhancement of protection and management of the Natura 2000 network.

This action will be divided into two sub-actions: one dealing with capacity building for the Appropriate Assessment (AA) procedure and the other with the implementation of the Capacity Building Action Plan for the implementation of Protected Areas. Sub-action C.1.1 for the Assessment of projects in Natura 2000 areas, will be carried out during Phase A taking into consideration the importance of the issue, since in Cyprus there is great pressure for development. Sub-action C.1.2. will include Capacity building actions taken from A8 plan that will be implemented from Phase B and onwards.

The capacity building of the key players involved in AA and nature issues as well as for the permitting authorities, is not a standalone process. On the contrary, it is a well inclusive approach, with interconnections throughout the impact assessment procedures from the in-situ data collection, to metadata analysis, risk assessment and decision making. Through the sub-actions presented further down, as well as in conjunction with other Actions of this LIFE project, various milestones will be met for combating current known AA procedure pitfalls such as ineffective approaches adopted for the IROPI (Imperative Reasons for Overriding Public Interest) precedent, the evaluation of alternative solution options and proposition of compensation measures, poor quality of AA reports, lack of skills/knowledge of the procedure, insufficient baseline information, lack of dialogue, lack of proper screening, lack of assessment of cumulative effects, lack of key concept understanding, ineffectiveness of AA on plans, lack of early strategic planning, lack of knowhow for the quantitative evaluation of significant effects. The main objective of Sub-action C.1.2 will be the implementation of the Capacity Building Action Plan as this will be elaborated under the Preparatory Action A.1. Details on this will be available after implementation of the related preparatory action, and C.1.2 is expected to begin after the second year of the project (or Phase B). Further details about the implementation of the Action Plan will become available after completing preparatory action A.1.

This action constitutes the main conservation action of the project and for its implementation the input/ outcome from Actions A is required (Action A1, A4, A5). Its implementation has been separated into a number of sub-actions, each one with specific aims and beneficiaries. The first sub-action will focus on implementing conservation and where necessary restoration actions for priority and other selected habitats in order to maintain or improve their conservation status. The second sub-action involves the establishment of Green Infrastructure (GI), which can reconnect fragmented natural areas and restored degraded habitats. In Natura 2000 sites, green infrastructure can provide substantial added value and contributes towards objectives of Article 10 of the Habitats Directive by ensuring the ecological coherence of the Natura 2000 network. Several activities are included in this sub-action inter alia, the creation of ponds and the creation of microhabitats. The third sub-action aims to update Management Plans for eight of the Natura 2000 sites (Koilada Diarizou, Xeros Potamos, Cha Potami, Vouni Panagias, Kavo Gkreko, Limni Oroklinis and Limni Paralimniou), while a conservation decree will be established or revisited for the management of all Natura 2000 sites (Special Areas of Conservation – SAC) in Cyprus, with the aim to increase awareness of Natura 2000 amongst the general public and stakeholders. The fourth sub-action aims to the improvement of the protection and the representativity of the species Astragalus macrocarpus subsp. lefkarensis*, Phlomis brevibracteata and Crepis pusilla within the Natura 2000 Network of Cyprus. The fifth sub-action aims to define ecological flow and conservation measures regarding aquatic ecosystem. It will assess the ecological requirements for the aquatic ecosystem in order to determine the ecological flow, for the hydrological regime and will evaluate the existing hydromorphological and biological data in order to define the “factors” impacting habitats and species in case of – dams water abstraction, downstream abstraction (when using a weir), alteration of flows, missing flows (monthly/seasonal variability including no flows), change of hyrdomorphological status of rivers, channelization, river regulation etc. The aim of the sixth sub-action is to implement the conservation measures suggested through Action A5. The conservation actions for bird species focus on qualifying species for twelve SPA (Special Protection Areas) sites, though some of the actions are horizontal in nature and applicable to all 30 designated SPAs in Cyprus. The twelve focus SPAs are: Larnaca Salt Lake – CY6000002, Paralimni Lake – CY3000008, Zoni Eidikis Prostasias Limni Oroklinis – CY6000010, Xeros Valley – CY4000007, Zoni Eidikis Prostasias Cha–Potami – CY5000010, Zoni Eidikis Prostasias Koilada Diarizou – CY4000020, Zoni Eidikis Prostasias Chersonisos Akama – CY4000023, Vouni Panagias – CY4000004, Vounokorfes Madaris – Papoutsas – CY2000015, Dasos Pafou – CY2000016, Periochi Agias Theklas–Liopetri – CY3000009 and SPA Kavo Gkreko – CY3000005.

The seventh sub-action aims to carry out satellite tagging for the two marine turtles Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta, in order to identify the migrating routes of the two species and enable their further conservation efforts.

The aim of this action is to provide a complete assessment through mapping and economic valuation of ecosystem services in a range of Natura 2000 sites throughout the island under different policy scenarios. The action will rely on preparation action A6 and input from action A1. The implementation of this action will include identification of datasets for mapping the ecosystem services present in the study areas as these were collated in action A6, liaison with experts to identify the best indicators for mapping these services, consultation with competent authorities through an organized workshop which will bring together experts/stakeholders (Departments of Environment, Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Research, Game and Fauna Service, Universities, Research Institutes and main NGOs) in order to evaluate the existing datasets for mapping (historical data, extent, scale, accuracy, completeness, ownership etc.) and reviewing existing Ecosystem Services Decision Support System (ES DSS) tools (see Grêt-Regamey et al. 2017) to select the appropriate for assisting scenario building for decision making in the Cyprus geographical context and liaison with policy makers to explore scenarios for Ecosystem Services (ES) delivery in Natura 2000 sites.

The main objective of this task is to design and develop two platforms (Management and Communication) to be used by the public (communication platform) and by officials (management platform). These are described in two respective sub-actions.

This action aims to the development of capacity to support controls for Invasive Alien Species (IAS) at entry points. This need relates to official controls to prevent intentional introductions from non-EU countries and to checks required to tackle priority pathways for intentional and unintentional introductions of IAS. With respect to measures targeted to prevent introduction, spread and establishment and to reduce impacts from IAS, this will be achieved through the implementation of action plans for each IAS (developed through Action A7, phase A). These measures will be focused on freshwater/riverine habitats, halophytic wetlands and coastal habitats and will include eradication actions on targeted sites, management where it is deemed most appropriate and restoration actions for impacted habitats.

The action aims to: develop capacities and knowhow for the absorption of funds from EU funding programs, including proposal preparation and management and consortium building, establish mechanisms to actively seek and develop revenue earning activities within Natura 2000 sites, stimulate cooperation between the Public Departments, Knowledge/Research Centers and businesses and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Natura 2000 sites, facilitate networking and cooperation between governmental departments, knowledge centers and the private sector at National and EU level, promote public –private partnerships and benefit sharing schemes with the local communities.

This Action will focus on the monitoring of the project’s conservation benefits including the core actions. Thus, the action will include all monitoring activities that will measure and evaluate the conservation benefits of the implementation of concrete conservation actions (Actions C) in the selected Natura 2000 sites. Through this action a system will be developed, for monitoring, assessing and evaluating the project’s effectiveness from a conservation point of view, and for achieving the project’s conservation targets regarding the status of the Natura 2000 sites.

This action is designed to monitor and measure the impact of the project taking into account the LIFE Key project level indicators (KPI). Through this action all necessary information will be compiled to report on project indicators and enter data related to those indicators in the dynamic indicators database (KPI database). The data will be entered during the first phase of the project, four times during the implementation of the project and 5 years after the project ends.

This action will be implemented through various sub actions. The first sub action is to set up awareness-raising and information activities for targeted stakeholders. It is important for local people and organised groups within Natura 2000 areas to be constantly involved and receive information about the progress of the project and its deliverables. Stakeholder mapping will take place in Action A.2 and A.8 (revisited in Action A.3).

The Natura 2000 areas will be split into 15 different clusters (with various numbers of Natura 2000 areas), where each cluster will include areas close to each other and host similar species and habitats, so that the stakeholders will receive similar information about their areas. At the first phase (2.5 years) of the project the awareness raising activities will involve basic Natura 2000 introductory information and information about the LIFE IP Project. The aim is for each cluster to be visited/ informed at least 4 times. Additionally, different organised groups have different concerns and information needs. For that reason, specialised seminars/workshops will be organised in groups, inter alia, farmers, Shepherds, Hunters, Fishermen, Restaurant and Hotel owners, Tourist Agents/ Tourist Guides, land owners/ land users, local authorities, industrialists (e.g. quarry owners). This list will be revisited at the beginning of this action in order to ensure that all relevant stakeholder groups are taken into consideration in the actions planned. Various Government Departments that are not directly involved in the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives have often interaction with Natura 2000 areas and the designating species and habitats. For that reason, it is extremely important for the officers working both in the field, but also at the decision making centres, to have a clear knowledge of the protection needs of the Natura 2000 areas. The Life IP Physis will identify those Departments that are not well aware of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Natura 2000 network and conduct specialized workshop so as to bring the officers up to date and explain the restrictions and special needs of the Natura 2000 areas. it is important that the Republic of Cyprus Prosecutors are well introduced to the concepts of the Birds and Habitats Directives, as well as to the requirements deriving from the Natura 2000 Management plans and to other obligations from these directives. It is very important for this group to understand the importance and severity of crime against Natura 2000 areas, as well as the EU obligations behind the national laws. Judges often come across with nature offences, but do not understand the severity and the impacts these illegal activities pose to the environment and the biodiversity. It is expected that the elaboration of Natura 2000 management plans during the process of this project will increase prosecutions against people who conduct serious nature crimes and damage Natura 2000 areas. The Broader public needs to have a simplified online application which will provide explanations to what the Natura 2000 network is and which are the various Natura 2000 areas all around the Republic of Cyprus. All the Management Plans will be publicly available and the latest news for each Natura 2000 area will be posted. It will also include a FAQ place where citizens will be able to find answers to common questions regarding Natura 2000 areas. The second sub action will include the conduction of Seminars/trainings focusing on the ecological value and socio-economic benefits of the Natura 2000 network. The Ecological value and socio-economic benefits of the Natura 2000 network are difficult to understand and communicated both between experts, but also to various stakeholders. The last sub-action (E.2.3) involves the development of a Transfer and Replication Plan. The project (in order to maximise the effort on the replicability and transferability of its results to a wider audience within and outside Cyprus, as well as beyond the project’s lifetime), will include a specific deliverable, namely “Transfer and Replication Plan”. The Plan will identify key stakeholders to be involved, relevant authorities, other EU member states and other IP projects in those states with similar goals, as well as all key players that will participate in the context of the transferability and replicability activities of the project.

This action focuses on the presentation, publication and promotion of the project’s activities and outcomes, as well as on collection of scientific data and general information about the Natura 2000 network in Cyprus, through the development of a website/of websites. Thus, this action aims towards disseminating information and keeping the audience and stakeholders continuously informed for both the project’s implementation and the project’s objectives and activities, as well as the Natura 2000 network.

Red List for the Birds of Cyprus to start in the second phase of the project and be completed during Phase C of the project (duration of Action E.6 is 3,5 years). The national Red List of the birds of Cyprus will be planned and carried out following the guidelines, requirements, criteria and categories of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, in close collaboration and under the guidance of the Red List Authority for Birds, BirdLife International.

The goal of this action is to closely follow the implementation of all activities that have been attributed to complementary funds. The Department of Environment – DE (with the collaboration of the other Governmental Departments) will carry out a monitoring scheme, compile the necessary data and information from all competent authorities of the complementary funds and provide updates on the planning, tendering, implementation and delivery of projects that are listed in the inventory of complementary activities and actions of this IP project.

DE will establish direct communication and collaboration with the respective Managing authorities, inter alia, the General Directorate of European Programs and Coordination of Funds, the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, or will be responsible for the implementation and management of the above activities.        

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