WWF Greece

Athens, Greece

WWF Greece

Athens, Greece
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Schindler S.,University of Vienna | Schindler S.,Environment Agency Austria | von Wehrden H.,Lüneburg University | von Wehrden H.,Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology | And 5 more authors.
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2015

Landscape metrics are commonly used indicators of ecological pattern and processes in ecological modelling. Numerous landscape metrics are available, making the selection of appropriate metrics a common challenge in model development. In this paper, we tested the performance of methods for preselecting sets of three landscape metrics for use in modelling species richness of six groups of organisms (woody plants, orchids, orthopterans, amphibians, reptiles, and small terrestrial birds) and overall species richness in a Mediterranean forest landscape. The tested methods included expert knowledge, decision tree analysis, principal component analysis, and principal component regression. They were compared with random choice and optimal sets, which were evaluated by testing all possible combinations of metrics. All pre-selection methods performed significantly worse than the optimal sets. The statistical approaches performed slightly better than random choice that in turn performed slightly better than sets derived by expert knowledge. We concluded that the process of selecting the most appropriate landscape metrics for modelling biodiversity is not trivial and that shortcuts to systematic evaluation of metrics should not be expected to identify appropriate indicators. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Poirazidis K.S.,WWF Greece | Poirazidis K.S.,Technological Education Institute of Ionian Islands | Zografou K.,WWF Greece | Kordopatis P.,WWF Greece | And 4 more authors.
Annals of Forest Science | Year: 2012

Context: This study investigates post-fire natural regeneration of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) forests at Ilia region (Peloponnesus, Greece) following the catastrophic fire of 2007. Aims: The objective of this study is the prediction of P. halepensis post-fire regeneration at a regional scale through an integrated geographic information systems (GIS) model as a basis for post-fire management plans. Methods: The model was developed in three interconnected stages: (1) field data collection, (2) development of two prediction models (based on interpolation of field data and multicriteria evaluation (MCE) that combined factors known to affect regeneration), and (3) combination of applied models using Bayesian statistics. Results: Post-fire pine regeneration presented high variation among the studied plots. Redundancy analysis revealed the positive effect of fallen branches and a negative correlation with altitude. Both modeling approaches (geostatistical and MCE) predicted the post-fire pine regeneration with high accuracy. A very significant correlation (r00.834, p<0.01) was found between the combined final model and the actual number of counted seedlings, illustrating that less than 10 % of the studied area corresponds to sites of very low post-fire pine regeneration. Conclusion:s The combination of GIS models increased the prediction success of different levels of pine regeneration. Lowaltitude areas with low grass cover overlying tertiary deposits were proved the most suitable for pine regeneration, while stands developing on limestone proved least suitable. The proposed methodology providesmanagement authoritieswith a sound tool to quickly assess Aleppo pine post-fire regeneration potential. © INRA /Springer-Verlag France 2012.

Georgiakakis P.,University of Crete | Kret E.,WWF Greece | Carcamo B.,WWF Greece | Doutau B.,WWF Greece | And 4 more authors.
Acta Chiropterologica | Year: 2012

Several recent impact studies reveal that in some localities industrial wind farms are associated with high numbers of bat fatalities. In Europe, most published studies have been conducted in the northwest, while bat diversity generally is much higher in the south of the continent. Here we provide evidence from a post-construction monitoring study conducted in north-eastern Greece between August 2009 and July 2010. Overall, 88 turbines from nine wind farms were intensively searched, and 181 dead and two injured bats were found in their proximity. The most frequently killed species were Nyctalus leisleri (n-56), Pipistrellus pipistrellus/P. pygmaeus (53), P. nathusii (35), Hypsugo savii (23) and N. noctula (10). Fatality rates were high from June to September. Most killed bats were adult males. Observed differences in the temporal pattern of fatalities among species may be associated with differences in their behaviour and distribution. Sex segregation with males at higher elevation, where the wind farms were located, and/or absence of females from such areas during summer may be the reason behind the higher male mortality rates. Bat fatalities were unequally distributed among wind farms and turbines. Four turbines (5%) accounted for 27% and 13 turbines (15%) for 51% of the fatalities. The most frequently killed species exhibited different spatial patterns of fatality, presumably because some turbines were located closer to roosts and/or commuting corridors. Fatalities were positively correlated with tower height but not with rotor size. To reduce bat fatalities, we recommend an increase in the cut-in speed of turbines responsible for fatalities from sunset to sunrise. © Museum and Institute of Zoology PAS.

Karaiskou N.,Aristotle University of Thessaloniki | Tsakogiannis A.,Aristotle University of Thessaloniki | Gkagkavouzis K.,Aristotle University of Thessaloniki | Papika S.,National Park Service | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Heredity | Year: 2014

A number of phylogeographic studies have revealed the existence of multiple ice age refugia within the Balkan Peninsula, marking it as a biodiversity hotspot. Greece has been reported to harbor genetically differentiated lineages from the rest of Balkans for a number of mammal species. We therefore searched for distinct red deer lineages in Greece, by analyzing 78 samples originating from its last population in Parnitha Mountain (Central Greece). Additionally, we tested the impact of human-induced practices on this population. The presence of 2 discrete mtDNA lineages was inferred: 1) an abundant one not previously sampled in the Balkans and 2) a more restricted one shared with other Balkan populations, possibly the result of successful translocations of Eastern European individuals. Microsatellite-based analyses of 14 loci strongly support the existence of 2 subpopulations with relative frequencies similar to mitochondrial analyses. This study stresses the biogeographic importance of Central Greece as a separate Last Glacial Maximum period refugium within the Balkans. It also delineates the possible effects that recent translocations of red deer populations had on the genetic structuring within Parnitha. We suggest that the Greek red deer population of Parnitha is genetically distinct, and restocking programs should take this genetic evidence into consideration. © 2014 © The American Genetic Association 2014. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

News Article | November 3, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Greece appears on track to win access to a controversial EU programme that could earmark up to €1.75bn (£1.56bn) in free carbon allowances for the building of two massive coal-fired power plants. The 1100MW coal stations will cost an estimated €2.4bn, and emit around 7m tonnes of CO2 a year, casting doubt on their viability without a cash injection from an exemption under Europe’s carbon trading market. The European parliament’s industry committee last month approved a rule change allowing Greece to join the scheme, the ‘10c derogation’ of the emissions trading system (ETS). Now, positive votes in the environment committee next month and at a plenary in February could set wheels in motion for the coal plants. Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch Liberal MEP on the environment committee, said: “Lignite [coal] has no future and should not be stimulated in any way. Greece’s intention of using public funds to revive its lignite-based model should not be allowed. Article 10C is there to help poor countries towards a sustainable energy future. Lignite does not fit these criteria.” “You couldn’t make this up,” added Imke Lübbeke, WWF Europe’s head climate and energy policy. “The ETS was intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but it now risks being abused to facilitate investments in the new coal plants, which would operate well within the 2060s. “This would violate climate targets and is in no way compatible with the leadership role the EU aspires to play in global climate policy and carbon markets.” Greece depends on 16 ageing lignite coal units for around half of its electricity production and its energy establishment sees two new lignite plants in western Macedonia as a cost-effective way of modernising and securing energy supplies. Emmanuel Panagiotakis, the president of the Greek public power corporation (GPPC), told MEPs last year that without access to free emissions allowances, Greek lignite production would be discredited, causing electricity costs to skyrocket and jeapordising energy security. One of the two new plants, Ptolemaida V, is already under construction, with its €1.4bn price tag underwritten by a €739m loan from a consortium led by the German export bank, KfW-Ipex. As well as CO2, the plant would annually emit significant air pollution: 2,100 tonnes of sulphur dioxide (SO2), 2,800 tonnes of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 140 tonnes of particulates, studies say. A memorandum of understanding for the other plant, Meliti II, was signed in September between the Greek government and CMEC, a Chinese construction company. Greece has the lowest quality lignite in Europe and plants such as these would not be viable without access to free carbon allowances, according to Panagiotakis. Studies paid for by WWF have found that clean energy alternatives would make more environmental and financial sense, but they cut against the grain in Greece. “The GPPC has always worked with coal,” one well-informed industry source told the Guardian. “They have grown up with lignite. It is what they know, what the state requires of them, and what they will do. It would be easier to change your grandmother’s mind about something.” The original 10c derogation was a classic Brussels fudge that allowed east European members to sign up to the EU’s 2020 climate package. Between 2013 and 2019, it allocated 673m free emissions allowances to coal-dependent countries whose GDP per capita was 50% below the EU average. An equivalent value is supposed to be spent by these countries on retrofitting and upgrading energy infrastructure, diversifying energy sources, and on clean energy. In practice though, the derogation has been controversial, with Poland – by far the system’s biggest beneficiary – claiming hundreds of millions of euros for ghost coal plants which did not exist. Gerbrandy said: “10c is a very important instrument that unfortunately can too easily be abused. We have seen this happen in the past. Strong governance and a clear focus on a true transition towards sustainable energy infrastructure are crucial.” WWF calculates that under the commission’s proposal for revising the ETS and 10c rules, Greece would receive 7m free allowances every year between 2021-2030. The commission’s estimated ‘shadow’ allowance price of €25 per tonne of CO2 over this period, would set the total handout at approximately €175m a year, or €1.75bn for the decade. Giannis Tsipouridis, the president of the Greek wind energy association, Eletaen, said: “Building two new coal plants in this day and age is not only environmentally wrong, but financially wrong. These investments will never pay off. Renewables are the only way out of Greece’s energy mess.” Before it took power in Greece, the leftwing Syriza movement pledged itself to environmentally safe growth and “the ecological transformation of the economy”. But the party was also committed to building new coal plants and, under pressure from an EU refusal to write down its debts, focused on coal as an energy safeguard. Speaking to the Guardian last year, a senior Syriza source said that continued fiscal problems would make it wiser to burn lignite than to import it. “One way or another Greek lignite will be exploited,” he said. Environmentalists say that under Syriza, forest protections have been weakened, energy efficiency policies undermined, environmental permitting systems deregulated, and renewable projects damaged by changes to support schemes. “We had high hopes when Syriza was elected because of their programme,” said Nikos Mantzaris, a spokesman for WWF Greece. “We thought they would be friendlier to the environment but in fact their choices have been even worse than the previous government. Syriza came to power promising to get rid of fossil fuels in the next 20 years and instead, they’re investing in lignite.”

Schindler S.,University of Vienna | Schindler S.,University of Porto | Von Wehrden H.,Lüneburg University | Poirazidis K.,WWF Greece | And 3 more authors.
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2013

Landscape metrics are widely used to investigate the spatial structure of landscapes. Numerous metrics are currently available, yet only little empirical research has comparatively examined their indicator value for species richness for several taxa at several scales. Taking a Mediterranean forest landscape - Dadia National Park (Greece) - as a case study area, we explored the performance of 52 landscape level landscape metrics as indicators of species richness for six taxa (woody plants, orchids, orthopterans, amphibians, reptiles, and small terrestrial birds) and for overall species richness. We computed the landscape metrics for circular areas of five different extents around each of 30 sampling plots. We applied linear mixed models to evaluate significant relations between metrics and species richness and to assess the effects of the extent of the considered landscape on the performance of the metrics. Our results showed that landscape metrics were good indicators for overall species richness, woody plants, orthopterans and reptiles. Metrics quantifying patch shape, proximity, texture and landscape diversity resulted often in well-fitted models, while those describing patch area, similarity and edge contrast rarely contributed to significant models. Spatial scale affected the performance of the metrics, since woody plants, orthopterans and small terrestrial birds were usually better predicted at smaller extents of surrounding landscape, and reptiles frequently at larger ones. The revealed pattern of relations and performances will be useful to understand landscape structure as a driver and indicator of biodiversity, and to improve forest and landscape management decisions in Mediterranean and other forest mosaics. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Schindler S.,University of Vienna | Schindler S.,University of Porto | Curado N.,University of Vienna | Nikolov S.C.,Bulgarian Academy of Science | And 6 more authors.
Journal for Nature Conservation | Year: 2011

Nature conservation should ideally build on the scientific recommendations that are concluded from applied conservation research, as well as on monitoring schemes that evaluate the effectiveness of recommendations. We considered as a case study a system of six protected areas located in the Eastern Rhodopes mountains in the southern part of the European Green Belt (EGB). To investigate nature conservation effectiveness, we reviewed 196 articles from scientific journals and books, eight doctoral and master theses, and 39 scientific reports regarding the Greek (one protected area, 428km2) and the Bulgarian (five protected areas, 904km2) part of the study area. We extracted 743 conservation recommendations, and through questionnaires completed by 10 local experts, we found that 74% of the recommendations were familiar for the experts. In the Greek (GR) and the Bulgarian part (BG) only 52% and 16%, respectively, of the recommendations were implemented, and only 15% (GR) and 3.1% (BG) were implemented and evaluated regarding their effectiveness. According to the experts, the main reasons for non-implementation and non-evaluation were absence or incompetence of the responsible authorities. Some recommendations obtained a remarkable low rate of implementation, such as those regarding agriculture and livestock rearing practices (GR: 29%, BG: 16%) or mammal conservation (GR: 0%, BG: 16%). Some other recommendations obtained rather high rates at least for Greece, such as tourism and environmental education (GR: 57%, BG: 42%) and bird conservation (GR: 57%, BG: 11%). We found that researchers and conservation managers at both sides of the Greek-Bulgarian border face similar implementation problems, related often to the lack of political will for nature conservation and establishment of competent authorities. The role of the EGB is crucial in enhancing the established cross-border collaborations between stakeholders involved in nature conservation. © 2011 Elsevier GmbH.

The present paper reports the first record of Piseinotecus gabinierei (Mollusca: Piseinotecidae) in the Aegean Sea; the nudibranchs were found in December 2008 in two different sites on the island of Crete (South Greece). In the first location it was feeding on Eudendrium racemosum, a hydroid very common in this area while in the second location it was found crawling among algae. © 2011 Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.

Kret E.,WWF Greece | Poirazidis K.,WWF Greece
Journal of Natural History | Year: 2015

Environmental and isolation variables relating to abundance of breeding amphibians, species richness and community structure at different spatial scales were examined in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park, Evros, Greece. Logistic regression and a generalized linear model were used to relate several habitat characteristics to species occurrence and species richness. The community structure responses to breeding-pond features were examined at four spatial scales using canonical correspondence analysis (CCA). The richest communities live in low-altitude ponds, with stony or clay bottoms, high solar exposure and abundant submerged and floating vegetation. The CCA models were significant (p < 0.005) and revealed the influence of altitude, percentage of field and broadleaf forest coverage, and number of water bodies on amphibian species assemblages at all four spatial scales. There is a specific need for holistic management of amphibians that will consider habitat connectivity, particularly between aquatic and terrestrial habitats, at a larger, more interconnected scale. © 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

News Article | November 29, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

It isn’t a great surprise to learn that a director of Greece’s Public Power Corporation believes in exemptions for lignite – an especially polluting type of coal burnt at Greek power plants (Letters, theguardian.com, 24 November). However, the claim that Greece is “among the best performers in emission reductions” must not go unchallenged. In a recent report, Lifting Europe’s Dark Cloud: How cutting coal saves lives, we revealed how Greek lignite plants, responsible for hundreds of premature deaths and thousands of cases of respiratory illness every year, have in fact been granted special exemptions to EU limits set in the industrial emissions directive. As a result, when it comes to emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO ), nitrous oxides (NO ), dust and mercury, Greek plants are undoubtedly among the worst performers in Europe. Comparing the emission levels of lignite plants in Greece and Germany is revealing: Greek levels are almost four times higher for sulphur, twice as high for nitrous oxides and 17 times higher for dust. Over five years, Greek exemptions will allow an extra 78 kilotons of SO and 21 kilotons of dust. It would take Dutch coal plants more than 100 years to emit that much dust. Furthermore, Greece is now seeking to extend exemptions for two highly polluting lignite plants: Kardia and Amyntaio. Resulting additional health costs will cost the Greek taxpayer billions of euros. If we are serious about protecting human health, the environment and the climate, the road to a fossil-fuel free future must remain a one-way street. Lignite can have no place in that future. Christian Schaible Policy manager, industrial production, European Environmental Bureau • In its response to your report (Greece set to win €1.75bn from EU climate scheme to build two coal plants, theguardian.com, 3 November) about Greece’s desperate plea to gain free emission allowances, the Greek Public Power Corporation (GPPC) avoids the main issue: its two new lignite plants won’t be economically viable unless they are allowed to emit CO without paying, a fact that even GPPC’s CEO admits. Greece’s numbers are hardly representative of a “best performer”. It is 17th in EU-28 in the Climate Change Performance Index, and is one of only two EU countries with a growing energy intensity, mainly due to lignite’s share in national greenhouse gas emissions (34%, second largest in EU-28). Lignite’s drop in the electricity share, referred to in GPPC’s letter, is partially due to the emissions trading system. This is precisely what GPPC is trying to reverse through free emission allowances. Contrary to its claim, Greece is indeed trying to revive its lignite-based model: it is committed to constructing two new lignite plants, is currently trying to double the operating hours of two existing plants, tried very hard to extend the life of its oldest plant, and is attempting to do the same with another one. GPPC refers to the country’s long-term energy plan, which in fact does not exist. What is, however, crystal clear is GPPC’s aspiration to keep lignite’s share at at least 35%, as its CEO has repeatedly stated. Free emission allowances for Greece mean that Ptolemaida V may benefit from operating cost reductions, thus gaining operating hours, and hence revenue. Without them, its construction and operation is financial suicide. Nikos Mantzaris Climate and energy policy officer, WWF Greece • Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

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