An Institution for the Management of Preveli Reserve

“After the last fire in the region of Preveli, it becomes absolutely necessary to establish an institution for the management of the area in order to help the co-ordination of the various authorities that are responsible for this management (Directorate of Forestry, Archaeology, Coast Guard, Local Authorities etc)”, underlined in an interview to “In-On” magazine Mrs. Christina Fournaraki who is responsible for the Unit of Preservation the Mediterranean Plants ΜΑΙΧ and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania.
She continued: “This has been also suggested since 1998, when the study of the Management Plan of the area was completed. This study had been realized within the framework of LIFE project of West Crete by the Development Organization of West Crete (ΟΑΔΥΚ), the Department of Biology of the University of Crete and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (ΜΑΙΧ). Besides, the establishment of an Institution for the Management is according to the law 2742/99 (“Land Use Planning and sustainable development and other provisions”), article 15 which rules the process of establishing Management Institutions in the areas of NATURA 2000 network. Unfortunately, till today in Greece only 27 Management Institutions have been established (while there should have been 264, the number of the areas NATURA 2000network). In Crete only one Institution has been established the “State Park of Samaria”.
“It has to be noted -she stressed- that due to the Preveli forest destruction apart from the palm trees (which if they do not sprout again, more than 30 years will be needed for the forest to recover) many other important self-sown kinds were threatened in the wider area. More specifically, in the wider area the 1/3 of the plants of Crete have been registered (there are about 1800 plant species in Crete). To be exact, in the area of “Limni” in Preveli 282 different kinds were registered. Among them, 29 species are self-sown in Crete, four of which are included in the Red Book of the endangered plants of Greece and 27 are protected by the Greek and European legislation”.
According to the Management Plan, which by all means requires suitability after so many years, the following are suggested:
– Designation of protection zones. More particularly three zones are suggested: A zone of complete nature protection, a zone of nature protection and a zone of Eco-tourism Development.
Regarding the zone of complete nature protection of Prevelis, the creation of a core where human activities and influences do not exist, is considered necessary.
Regarding the zone of nature protection, human activities will be strictly controlled and in the zone of Eco-tourism area, a net of footpaths should be designed, special information programs for the cattle-breeders should be realized and measurements to prevent fires should be taken.
Based on the Management Plan in Preveli area, the following should be directly realized:
– Clear determination of the public land and more specifically of the sea shore and beach zone, the river bank and the riverside zone.
– Clarification of the owners’ titles of ownership of Prevelis gorge and the peripheral land.
– When the public land is designated, we suggest compulsory expropriation of the non-public sections of the area that are determined as a zone of nature protection. The measure of expropriation is suggested due to the extraordinary, in a Pan-European level, biological value of the area, for protection reasons and potentiality to apply administrative practices.
– The approach to the area toward the beach of the Preveli gorge should be controlled at least for a period of a few years, until the perception is fixed on the peoples’ minds –either the locals or the visitors – that it is a controlled area with prohibitions but offers as well.
These suggestions that have to do with the access to the area are: improvement of the already existing road, a parking space which is currently planted over with trees (Forest Inspection), the footpath to approach the area is designed and fixed and parking spots and view spots for the visitors are created, planted over with local plants.
In the west side of the beach a small pier is being constructed, which will exclusively serve the needs of embarkation – disembarkation of the visitors carried by the small boats and not as a parking lot (Coast Guard).
Any other design of the road is dangerous and should not be allowed. Moreover, the access to the biotope is expected to be enhanced and sped-up due to the suggested design of the southern arterial route.
As far as the visitors are concerned, they should be restricted to a great extent to the zone near the shore while their number should be controlled at least during the first period of the administrative check implementation. The number of visitors that come by the sea is controlled by the number of visitors available. In order to control the visitors who come by land, a ticket is proposed in the two entrance spots.
The economic contribution of the ticket is of grave importance and constitutes a sign of respect to the value of this rare natural scenery. For this reason picking-up plants and disturbing the animals is strictly forbidden, also visitors should not camp and spend their night  in the boundaries of the area nor leave rubbish, light fires or their pets disturb the fauna of the area.
In order to appraise the Management Plan, there should be a collective evaluation by the scientific committee.
However, as the international experience shows, considerate quality and quantity results could be safely estimated in a period of five years. The evaluation of the Management Plan is conducted on the basis of goals achievement regarding ideal management. Obviously, a minimum time period should be preceded, so as the efforts of the Management Plan produce countable results. Besides, this period of time should not be large, so as potential incorrect practices do not cause non-reversible results. Through the files of LIFE project, it turned up that the area in focus belongs to a middle range of threats, which, however, are capable to cause irreparable damage to the system.
A collective evaluation of the scientific committee coincides that through the application of the plan, directly visible and positive results will emerge. However, as the international experience shows, considerate quality and quantity results could be safely estimated in a period of five years. This does not mean that practices that deviate from the aims of ideal management cannot change the interest. During the fifth year that the management plan is applied, a wide-scale recording of the data of the area will start following the methodology of the LIFE project. The data collected is compared to the new situation and facts are evaluated. This comparison will indicate the changes that should be done or the weaknesses of the existing plan. Priorities are re-determined and the revised plan is put into practice.

Mrs. Christina Fournaraki is responsible for the unit of preservation the Mediterranean plants ΜΑΙΧ and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania.
She was born in 1961 in Chania. She studied Biology in the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki and completed her post-graduate studies (M.Sc.) regarding “Management of the Mediterranean Ecosystems” in the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania. Since 1991, she has been working at ΜΑΙΧ at first in the department of “Natural Products” and in the last 10 years in the unit “Unit of Preservation the Mediterranean Plants” (Botanic Museum, Seed Bank and Botanical Garden). She shortly completes her doctoral thesis in the University of Athens, Botany Department Biology Department entitled: “Preservation of indigenous and endangered plants of Crete –Seeds Ecology, Function and Management of the Seed Bank of Self-Sown kinds”.
She has participated in various national and European research programs that refer to the study and the protection of the flora of Crete and generally the management of Mediterranean flora.
She has participated in Greek and international scientific conferences and has written articles and delivered papers regarding the rare flora of Crete. Moreover, she has participated in the publication of popularize material (leaflets, DVD, articles in the internet) with the aim to inform and sensitize the inhabitants and visitors of Crete regarding environmental issues.

Source of publication 11th edition In-On

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