Greek LIFE Task Force - LIFE Capacity Building

April 2019 - LIFE Natura Themis

Α) Identity of the project

Title/ N°

Promoting awareness of wildlife crime prosecution and liability for biodiversity damage in NATURA 2000 areas in Crete
LIFE Natura Themis - (LIFE14 GIE/GR/000026)

Duration

01.10.2015 – 30.09.2020

Budget

Total budget: 1.580.117 €

 Beneficiaries

Coordinator: University of Crete – Natural History Museum of Crete (UoC – NHMC)

Partners:
1) Bar Association of Chania (CB)
2) Hellenic Society for the Protection of Natura (HSPN)
3) Ministry of Environment and Energy – Coordination Office for the Implementation of Environmental Liability (MEEN – COIEL)
4) Bar Association of Heraklion (HB)

Location of activities

Areas of the NATURA 2000 Network in Crete

Website

http://www.lifethemis.eu/en

Contact

Michalis Probonas, UoC – NHMC, Coordinator LIFE Natura Themis

Description/Aim

The aim of the project is to map the environmental delinquency in the Region of Crete, focusing on the protected areas of the NATURA 2000 Network. In the medium term, the project intends to provide in-depth information to both lawyers and the representatives of the judiciary, prosecutors, bodies/services with investigating authorities as well as regional authorities of Crete for all aspects of environmental degradation, with an emphasis on the protected areas of the NATURA 2000 Network. It also intends to promote awareness for the prosecution for wildlife crimes and to highlight environmental responsibility for restoring biodiversity damage. In the long term, the project seeks to contribute to the reduction and prevention of environmental crime through awareness-raising of local communities on this issue.

The main objectives of the project are summarised in brief hereafter:

  1. Study of environmental degradation in Crete, focusing on the protected areas of the NATURA 2000 Network, and its statistical analysis, which will be used to inform all stakeholders about possible legislative proposals, as well as for academic purposes.
  2. Cultivation of skills in targeted audiences and stakeholders (judges and prosecutors, lawyers, civil servants from the Region of Crete, the Decentralised Administration Authority of Crete and Municipalities, NGOs of Crete, etc.) to effectively prevent and assist in addressing environmental delinquency and implementing remedial measures, where feasible and where this is required by the implementation of environmental liability legislation.
  3. Inform the residents of the NATURA 2000 areas in Crete regarding illegal activities that take place in their areas, which in turn undermines local development, social cohesion and economic progress.
  4. Encourage the change of attitude of all competent authorities regarding the recognition, recording and prevention of violations of environmental legislation and environmental crime.

Β) Best Practices

Regarding the field of research, the project's actions concern the recording of the pre-existing situation in relation to the European and national environmental legislation for the NATURA 2000 Network in Greece and the collection and statistical analysis of the judicial procedures in Crete, the creation of 2 Environmental Law Observatories in West and East Crete, respectively, as well as the collection, recording and processing of data on the environmental violations in Crete (with posting and publishing the results in project’s geoinformation map).

Regarding information, education and awareness of stakeholders and target groups, the main actions concern:

  • Project website (www.lifethemis.eu) and social media tools.
  • Electronic and printed information material.
  • TV and Radio spots.
  • 3 Technical Guides for judges / prosecutors, lawyers and lay public.
  • 16 Workshops throughout Crete.
  • 6 Training seminars for public officers with investigative duties.
  • 9 Training seminars for judges / prosecutors, lawyers, employees of local authorities and environmental NGOs.
  • 2 National Conferences and 1 International Congress.
  • Participation in events throughout Crete.
  • Application for smart devices (APP THEMIS).

Good practices to ensure the active involvement of (public / private) stakeholders and the implementation of the Replicability / Transferability Plan are on the one hand the results from the collection and statistical analysis of judicial procedures on environmental violations in Crete for wildlife and environmental liability issues, and on the other hand, the Communication Strategy of the project through a series of awareness-raising actions of all the involved stakeholders and target groups.

The Communication Strategy of the project, the operation of the Environmental Law Observatories of Western and Eastern Crete, the application for smart devices (APP THEMIS) and the implementation of the geoinformation map with the recording of all cases of environmental violations in Crete will be a model for replication / transfer in other regions of the country and/or Europe.

C) Results

The project's Communication Strategy is based on actions related to research on the knowledge, perceptions and behaviors of target groups and social partners for both the NATURA 2000 Network sites and the promotion of awareness in wildlife crime prosecution and the emergence of environmental liability for the remediation of biodiversity damage. The project messages are as follows:

  • Right and Liability for the Environment
  • Law at the Service of Environment

Three (3) Technical Guides have been already issued concerning: a) The Birds and Habitats Directives: Technical Guide for lawyers and public administrators. b) Environmental Law and NATURA 2000 Network: Technical Guide for citizens. c) The Environmental Liability Directive and Wildlife: Technical Guide for the judiciary.

The application for smart devices (APP THEMIS) has been in operation since August 2017 and has already received a large number of complaints / reports about environmental offenses in Crete. Almost all complaints have been already forwarded to competent services, and in 2 cases a fine has been already imposed and/or the relevant environmental degradation was restored.

A National Environmental Liability Conference in Heraklion (7-9 September 2017) and an International Conference on Environmental Crime in Athens (23-25 ​​November 2018) have already taken place. The LIFE Natura Themis project co-organised the 2018 Annual Conference of the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE) in Heraklion (23-24 October 2018).

Finally, a series of workshops, meetings, events and training seminars are organised throughout Crete.