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Conservation of priority forests and forest openings in "Ethnikos Drymos Oitis” and “Oros Kallidromo” of Sterea Ellada (FOROPENFORESTS)
Start date: Sep 1, 2012, End date: Nov 30, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background The project area comprises two mountainous Natura 2000 sites in central Greece: the National Forest Park of Oiti, "Ethnikos Drymos Oitis” (GR2440004), and “Oros Kallidromo” (GR2440006). The main threats to the target habitats and species include: reduced grazing and the abandonment of traditional farm practices; the intensification of forest management and deforestation, which cause habitat deterioration and a resultant lack of nesting sites and prey availability for Tengmalm's owl and three woodpecker species; modifications of the hydrological cycle of temporary ponds; damage caused by off-road vehicles; illegal waste disposal, causing soil and water pollution; wild fire incidents, which are very destructive for mountain conifer species (Pinus nigra subsp. pallasiana and Juniperus foetidissima) that do not possess a post fire regeneration mechanism; illegal hunting and poaching, including the mass releases of captive-bred Chuckar partridge (i>), which dilutes the genetic purity of certain rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) populations and also impacts on the populations of other bird species (e.g. Alectoris graeca); human-induced mortality of the brown bear; and climate change, which threatens the high altitude habitats targeted by the project. Objectives The main aim of the project is to implement a conservation management system for the forests and forest openings in the two Natura 2000 sites. Specific objectives include: Maintenance of forest openings in order to conserve the mountain grasslands and temporary ponds; Restoration of the hydrogeology and of the biotic communities of temporary ponds, including enhancing the population of the priority plant species Veronica oetaea; Protection of grasslands and temporary ponds habitats from degradation caused by human pressure; Restoration of the foetid juniper (Juniperus foetidissima) forests, including restoring their regeneration potential and expanding the area covered; Protection of conifer forests from destructive wild fires; Ex-situ conservation of target habitat and plant species; Protection of five Annex I bird species, including enhancing their populations and expanding the area of occurrence; Enhancement and protection of the bear population; Active involvement of stakeholders in conservation management; Legal protection of the project sites. Expected results: A series of studies, specifications, monitoring protocols and manuals for the management of the target habitats and species; Access control measures (fencing, lifting bars and parking lots, signboards etc.) and visitor infrastructure (information kiosks, camp sites and recreation sites, paths, public education and an information centre on Mount Kallidromo and upgrading of the National History Museum of Mount Oiti); Protection and restoration of mountain grasslands and improvement of their rangeland quality in an area of more than 400 ha on Mount Oiti and in a large area of Mount Kallidromo; Protection and restoration of seven temporary ponds including four new localities for Veronica oetaea; Protection and restoration of foetid juniper forests habitats; Implementation of fire protection measures including the establishment of two fire-guardhouses and two water reservoirs; Creation of a gene seedbank for keystone plant species; Preservation of the habitat and food sources of five Annex I bird species, including the installation of 100 nests; Preservation of the bear population, including planting of 500-1000 wild fruit trees, distributing 10 Hellenic livestock guard dogs, and installing 20 electric fences; Two legal documents on the protection and management of Natura 2000 sites on Mount Oiti and Mount Kallidromo; Stakeholder involvement, public education and awareness raising; After-LIFE Conservation Plan and layman’s report; Report on the socioeconomic impact of the project.

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