A 4-day networking visit of personnel from the Forest Service of Slovenia and the University of Zagreb with colleagues and partners from Greece who are involved in the implementation of LIFE projects was organised from 27th to 30th of May 2019. Twenty members of Environmental Scientists, Foresters, Biologists, Veterinarians, Agronomists, Communication and Awareness Officers from Slovenia, Croatia and Greece had the opportunity to present the environmental projects that were implemented or are being still under implementation in nine (9) LIFE projects co-funded by European and national financial resources.
The coordination of the organisation of the meeting from the Greek side was directed by Dr. Christos Georgiadis from the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN) in the framework of the LIFE project "ForOpenForests", in collaboration with members of the Environmental Organisation for Wildlife and Nature "Callisto" and executives of Lever Development Consultants SA.
The visit was organised in a way that allows participants to get acquainted with the LIFE projects that are being implemented in Greece from Crete to Nestos and West Macedonia, but also to present the intensive work is being undertaken in Slovenia and Croatia for the protection and management of large mammals through corresponding LIFE projects.
On Monday, 27/5/2019, the following projects were presented by participants: LIFE ForOpenForests (www.foropenforests.org), LIFE PRIMED (www.lifeprimed.eu), LIFE Natura Themis (www.lifethemis.eu), LIFE GrIn (https://lifegrin.gr), LIFE AMYBEAR (www.lifeamybear.eu/), LIFE SAFE CROSSING (https://life.safe-crossing.eu/), LIFE DINALP BEAR (https://dinalpbear.eu/en/), LIFE Lynx project (www.lifelynx.eu), as well as projects and actions related to the protection of wolves that are co-funded by cross-border cooperation programmes.
On Tuesday, 28/5/2019, the mission travelled to the area of Nestos River where all participants were guided to the coastal area of the river, which is also a field of application of part of the LIFE PRIMED project in order to see closely the implemented actions. On Wednesday, 29/5/2019, the planning of the networking visit included a visit to the area of implementation of the LIFE AMYBEAR and the LIFE SAFE-CROSSING projects. The scientific coordinator and members of “Callisto” Environmental Organization, as well as a member of Lever Development Consultants SA, accompanied visitors to some of the LIFE AMYBEAR project actions, specifically in areas of implementation of Actions C3 (Installation of warning signs and deterrents for safer road network) and C8 (Installation of special aversive means in hot-spots of human-bear interference), where also took place the demonstration of the equipment that was recently purchased by the Municipality of Amyndeo under Action C6 (Production and dissemination of an Anti-Poison First Aid Kit), as well as Action C5 (Stockbreeder Network for Exchanging Livestock Guarding Dogs) where a visit was made to a stockbreeder – member of the Network – from Sklithro.
On the same day (29/5/2019), the mission had the opportunity to visit implementation areas of LIFE SAFE-CROSSING project, in particular the typology of underground passages along the Egnatia Highway A29 (Siatista - Kristallopigi), as well as the monitoring protocol for the use of a pilot wildlife passage using a special camera.
The networking actions were completed with an in situ demonstration of the installation of the special "Bear Be Gone" bin (equipped with a spraying system with pepper spray) in the village of Aetos, Florina, where a bear had appeared on the previous day, as well as a visit to the Wildlife Shelter of the Environmental Organisation “Arcturos” in Nympfaio.