Activities

Implementation of the project includes several activities grouped into three work packages:

- Management and restoration planning
- Restoration
- Environmental interpretation

Management and restoration planning

This work package includes the following activities:

  • Management plan of the riparian forest

    Until 1996 management of the riparian forest was conducted according to studies by the Forest service of Kavala. These were concentrated on wood production from plantations established in the 1950s. Nevertheless, the Forest Service of Kavala and other agents involved in nature preservation argued that the main aim of the riparian forest management should shift to nature preservation. To this direction in 1996, the Ministry of Environment and Public Works conducted the first integrated management plan for the area focusing on the regulation of land uses rather on specific management actions and restoration of disturbed ecosystems. In 1998 the University of Thessaloniki carried out a study titled “Ecological analysis of the managing eco - development of River Nestos”. The study had included management proposals many of which had been implemented by the Forest Service of Kavala.

    In the current project the management study of 1998 is updated through a comprehensive Management Plan of the riparian forest. The plan considers modifications of the legislation framework pertaining to the area, takes into account recent data on the species, the vegetation and the ecology of the area, identifies necessary actions for the restoration of the forest and proposes feasible measures compatible with nature preservation demands.
  • Restoration implementation study

    River Nestos as most of big rivers in Europe during last century sustained dramatic modifications of its hydrology and ecosystems. Modifications had begun from the Riparian forest at the delta with the intensive demand for farm land had led to gradual clearance of the riparian forest after 1930, river-straightening and construction of dykes. Modifications continued with the construction of the Toxotes irrigation dam in 1966 and two hydroelectric dams at Thesaurus and Platanovrisi. Thesaurus dam operates since 1997 and Platanovrisi dam since December 1999. Originally the riparian forest had stretched for 27 km eastwards and westwards of the main course of the river with a varied width of 3-7 km. This was one of the biggest riparian forests in Mediterranean and during 1920s covered about 12,000 ha while in 1946 only 7,000 ha. Nowadays in the forest estate some 800 ha of natural forest grow of which only 150 ha are relicts of the ancient  forest. The rest is secondary natural forest established naturally mainly in the new, artificial course of the river.

    Degradation and shrinkage of the forest stopped in 1970 when the remaining of the virgin forest was put under protection in order to preserve the last population of the Common pheasant in Greece. On the course of the following years attempts to protect and restore the forest had continued.

    The study of restoring the natural vegetation takes into account on previous interventions in the area, evaluates previous attempts, proposes suitable areas for the restoration and species to be planted and specifies all necessary works. A hub in the process of vegetation restoration is the gradual restoration of the riparian forests functions which will enable native flora and fauna to recolonise the area. Critical step in this process is the identification and description of the favorable areas for the restoration and the proper selection of plant species since soil fertility dropped rapidly due to intensive poplar plantations and cessation of natural flooding.
  • Visitor Management Plan

    During the past few years the area of River Nestos and the Prefectures of Kavala and Xanthi have became a popular tourist destination. Tourism in both prefectures is well developed providing adequate accommodation and food service. A shared advantage is River Nestos and its natural beauties. Tourism will further develop as a result of the new Egnatia Highway and the efforts of local authorities and Forest Service of Kavala to promote natural and cultural heritage of River Nestos.

    The Visitor Management Plan deal with ways for better access and circulation of visitors in the area so they may maximize their benefits during their visit and minimize their impact on the natural environment.
  • Restoration monitoring programme

    In this activity a monitoring programme for the progress of the restoration of  the woody vegetation and the effectiveness of management will be designed and established. The measuremets of biotic and abiotic factors will be used for the evaluation of  the achievement of the management and restoration goals set by the Management Plan. In the design phase the number, the size and the location of monitoring plots will be described. Also the type of data, methods and collection frequency will be determined. The results of the monitoring will be considered along with the results of other projects which are or may be implemented in the area.

    In particular for the evaluation of the restoration of plant composition and structure in comparison to plant composition and structure of the remaining virgin forest, the system will record:

    1. Success of planting of each species and quality of location
    2. Increase of species in various locations
    3. Vitality of plants

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Restoration

The second working package concerns the restoration of natural vegetation in 280 hectares by:

  • Planting of species of indigenous flora
  • Fencing of the planted areas to avoid grazing during the early life of the plants or to favor natural regeneration
  • Nursing and irrigation of the planted areas to ensure sufficient ground moisture

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Environmental interpretation

Aiming at establishing and developing an effective network of infrastructures and promoting the riparian forest and river Nestos as an area of exceptional ecological, aesthetical and recreational interest, the project anticipates:

  • Environmental Parks: Establishment of two Environmental Parks of nearly 60 ha in total on the  west and east bank. The project intents to create field laboratories for education and entertainment, where visitors will be able to experience the riparian forest. Constructed trails, nature interpretation signs, information points, and various activities for adults and children, will ensure comfortable and safe access to both parks. Visitors will be are able to organize excursions according to their interests and available time and have a live experience of the riparian forest. They will be able to discover its secrets and values, listen to its sounds, observe unique vegetation, and realize the need for protection and wise management of the forest. Most of all, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy themselves and experience the magic of the riparian forest.The environmental park on the east bank (see map) will cover main education and research activities since the area is suitable for planting all species and recreate all vegetation types of the riparian forest, favouring a simulation of the original forest . By combining scientific knowledge and recreation the park will create an outdoor laboratory of research and education that will provide detail information for the riparian forest and its vegetation to specialists and wide public. On the east bank the environmental park will cover 45 ha close to Erasmio village and to the existing visitor centre. The park will be separated into three sections. The first refers to reception, services and information and will have a parking area, a visitor centre, presentation room, canteen, outdoor exhibition, playground, dining facilities. The second section will be the arboretum where the main woody plant species of the riparian forest will be presented. The third will be is a simulation of the forest with organized trails and resting points. The park on the west bank (see map) will cover 15 ha south of Chrysoupoli and will include the existing small canteen. It will also incorporate a part of the natural riparian forest. The rest of the park is planted with local species. This section includes non-permanent constructions for education and recreation activities. The environmental parks are based on a series of studies such as:
  • Analysis of characteristics and thematic content of the environmental parks of the riparian forest of the river Nestos. This describes current conditions of the selected areas and identifies target groups, identifies aims and themes and describes operation and administration of the parks.
  • Technical study for spatial planning of the Environmental Park and architectural design of the environmental interpretation infrastructures and visitor's facilities. This study will include a) analysis of the general principles of the planning of the park and the spatial planning of the park and its facilities, b) the architectural design of the infrastructures for the environmental interpretation and visitor's facilities (e.g. signposting, infokiosks, and entrance post). The technical guidelines will include architectural drawings of proper scale for the appropriate presentation of the proposed solutions, along with construction details and the analytical budget of the works.
  • Technical studies for plantations: it identifies plants to be planted in each section of the park, planting techniques, the irrigation system and guidelines for the nursing of plants.
  • Visitor Centres: Organize the operation and thematic content of two existing Visitor Centres in order to establish successful and viable infrastructures. These will cover modern demands and provide meeting points, information desks, starting points and wise circulation of visitors into the forest, the environmental parks and the wider river area.Brief and clear texts, reach visual material and interactive exhibits will furnish two attractive centers. They are situated on the east and west bank of the river nearby Nea Karia village and Erasmio respectively.
  • The Museological study for the two Visitor Centres will describe: a) the current status, b) the overall and the specific objectives, c) the audience (target groups) and their needs, d) the functions and facilities, e) the main museological idea and the thematic content, f) the exhibitions storyline (scenario) and g) the operational and marketing issues.
  • The Museografical study for the two Visitor Centres will contain: a) the evaluation of the current status, b) the definition of the museum exhibition mission, c) the approaches to planning, d) the description of the types of the exhibits and equipment, e) the design of the exhibits and f) the construction budget.
  • Information material: Design and production of information material in printed and digital form prepared in Greek and English, such as:
  1. Project logo
    2 leaflets, one presenting the project and one nature interpretation infrastructures                
    A photographic collection for the riparian forest          
    An ecotouristic map of the riparian forest and the wider area         
    An ecotouristic guide for the riparian forest           
    Posters for the promotion of the riparian forest           
    Posters for the promotion of the project and nature interpretation infrastructures (in Greek)    
    Promotion stickers     
    Web site for the project    
    CD-ROM dedicated to the riparian forest    

Public awareness and dissemination of information

The aim of this activity is to make the project and its results known to the public in Greece and abroad (local and national authorities, local population, schools, teachers, visitors). This activity includes the cooperation with scientific and educational organisations (e.g. the cooperation with the Department of Forestry and Natural Environment Management of the Technological Educational Institute of Kavala)

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