NE Greece and S.Bulgaria are one of the most important ecologically areas in European and international level. The area that administratively belongs to the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace in Greece and the Provinces of Blagoevrad, Smolyan, Kardzali και Haskovo in the side of Bulgaria, there are a series of very important habitats that are being protected from national law as well as international treaties. One of the main reason that they are considered to be so important is that they demonstrate a remarkable biodiversity since they constitute the natural habitat (permanent or occasional) for a large number for endangered species of the fauna and flora (endemic and migratory). Furthermore they are a part of the eastern European corridor of the bird’s migration. They are a permanent or transient habitat of wild birds fauna that are of great importance. Nevertheless despite the fact that the cross – border region is an ecologically single complex of habitats, until present there is no unified and common strategy for managing these habitats and protecting biodiversity by two countries. Due to this deficiency of common policy there is a lack of knowledge for the situation of the biodiversity in real time while the initiatives that are being undertaken by bodies of the two countries are having little effectiveness because of fragmentation. Second problem that is being trying to be confronted with this project is the insufficient strategy for the interaction between human activity and ecosystem. Third problem that this project is trying to confornt is insufficient local community involvement in the protection of the biodiversity.In this project important public and private Bodies of the two countries that influence significantly regional and national biodiversity conservation policies are being participating.
1. Region of East Macedonia and Thrace as Lead Beneficiary (LB)
2. Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace (B2)
3. Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Xanthi (B3)
4. Hellenic Ornithological Society (B4)
5. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (B5)
6. Regional Industrial Association of Smolyan (B6)
7. Arbitra Foundation-NGO (B7)
Due to many and important habitats in the cross – border are it has being decided the project to concentrate in 3 habitats of great ecological importance with similar environmental features. The Rodopi Mountains, (where the south part belongs to Greece and the north to Bulgaria), river Nestos straits in Greece and Ardas river for its part in Bulgarian territory. In fact Southern Rodopi and Nestos straits could be considered as a single habitat. The project is of great importance for both countries.It is related with a common and coordinated effort to imprint biodiversity as a natural resource, to connect it with transnational and regional development policies trough common initiatives and at the end to implement a common strategy or action plan in the cross border region.
Project innovative actions and already good practices are being included, such as the production of a local quality label and the use of state-of-the-art equipment that has being constructed from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Already implemented policies will be reassessed for their effectiveness. Know-how, good practices and results of other European programs such as Life will be connected.Among the new suggested tools for monitoring biodiversity status in real time is the use of state of the art technology for real time collection, interpretation and processing of data. The data acquired are more credible and therefore the decision making mechanism is more accurate. According to the project there will be elaboration of a pilot strategy for three of the most threatened species for the three sites. The outcomes of these pilot strategies can act in the future as basis, in order a generic biodiversity protection strategy plan will be produced and implemented by both countries for the regions that stand beside Rodopi mountains. The implemented so far strategies were based on keeping apart natural habitats and human activities and proved to be inadequate. The target groups that are being benefited are the habitats, the fauna and flora and the residents and visitors of the three sites. Ultimate objective of the project is to contribute in the optimal mixture of realistic policies that will ensure at the same time biodiversity conservation and sustainable growth