Natura site protection streamlined


A new bill }submitted for public consultation by the Environment Ministry aims to streamline the management of Greek areas that are protected under the European Union’s Natura 2000 network.

The law foresees the merger of the current 36 management agencies into 24 that will be overseen by a new central structure called the Organization for the Environment and Climate Change (OFFEKKA), supervised by the ministry. The organization will develop policy, coordinate its implementation and manage funds for the protected areas. Funding is set to come from the state budget, EU programs and mild commercial activity.

Under the new plan, Natura sites are to be divided into four zones that designate land use under ascending levels of protection, from the periphery to the core.

According to the new rules, mining activity will be banned in the core of Natura sites. However, environmental groups have criticized the ministry for green-lighting mining activity in all other zones. “What is a Natura site to be protected from if not from high-risk industrial facilities,” said Theodota Nantsou, environmental policy coordinator of WWF Greece.