Protected areas in Greece
Protected areas concern those that are primarily dedicated to the protection of the natural and cultural heritage and host the most unique, sensitive and valuable elements of our natural wealth.
These areas are governed by a special institutional regime based on national, European and international legislation.
For the effective protection of Greek nature, Greece has established national parks, wildlife refuges, protected landscapes and protected natural formations, while it has included areas in the Natura 2000 network (based on the Wildbirds’ Directive 2009/147 and Habitats’ Directive 1992 /43) and has also defined areas of protection based on international conventions.
The protected areas of Greece are divided into:
- Nationally Protected Areas
- European Protected Areas
- Internationally Protected Areas
Nationally Protected Areas
Terrestrial, aquatic, marine or of mixed nature, natural or semi-natural areas with recorded presence of natural habitats types and species of international, EU and/or Greek importance that need protection and conservation. All national areas belonging to the European Ecological Natura 2000 Network are also included.
Large natural or semi-natural areas (terrestrial, marine or of mixed nature) in which large-scale ecological functions take place with typical species and habitat types of EU and/or Greek importance, which need protection and conservation. National Parks can include two or more Natura 2000 areas and/or Biodiversity Protection Areas, especially when these are characterized by a wide range of ecosystem functions with common spatial, natural geographic and/or abiotic characteristics.
Areas (terrestrial, wetland, marine or of mixed character) assessed as suitable for the development of populations of wild fauna and flora or as habitats for the breeding, feeding, wintering of wild fauna species, or as fish breeding and spawning areas. Ecological corridors between protected areas can also be characterized as Wildlife Refuges.
National Parks | Aesthetic Forests | Natural Monuments | Controlled Hunting Areas | Game Reserves
Functional parts of nature or individual formations (areas or point elements) which have a special ecological, geological or geomorphological value or contribute to the conservation of natural processes and the protection of natural resources, such as trees, stands of trees and shrubs, marine protective vegetation, riparian and coastal vegetation, natural fences, waterfalls, springs, canyons, dunes, reefs, caves, rocks, petrified forests, trees or parts thereof, palaeontological findings, coral geomorphological formations and geosites.
Protected natural formations that have a monumental nature are characterized in particular as Natural Monuments. It is possible to designate individual areas within National Parks, Biodiversity Protection Areas and/or Wildlife Refuges as Protected Natural Formations and these to be included within escalating protection zones in these areas.
European Protected Areas – Natura 2000 Network
The European Natura 2000 ecological network is a network of key-sites that spans all around 27 EU countries, both on land and at sea, and it is the largest organized network of protected areas in the world.
It aims to protect areas considered as key-areas for selected flora and fauna species or for habitat types among those listed in both the European Habitats’ Directive (1992/43) and the European Wildbirds’ Directive (1979/409, as replaced by Directive 2009/147).
It concerns species and habitats considered to be of European importance because they are threatened with extinction, they are vulnerable, rare or endemic, or constitute outstanding examples of typical species and habitats for one or more of Europe’s nine biogeographical regions. Greece is in its entirety included within the Mediterranean biogeographical region.EU Map: Mediterranean biogeographical region
In Greece, the Natura 2000 network includes a total of 446 areas occupying terrestrial zones of more than 27% of the Greek territory and marine areas of more than 19%.
The Natura 2000 is not just a network of protected areas, instead it acknowledges that people and nature perform best when they work together, as many of the habitat types included in the network are directly dependent on the continuation of human activities.
Therefore, the Natura 2000 network areas do not lead to the exclusion of activities, as mistakenly believed by many, but aid to ensure their compatibility with the protection of valuable species and habitats, also having a significant economic impact.Map EUROPEAN NATURA 2000 NETWORK Revised National List of NATURA 2000 Areas
Internationally Protected Areas
Besides the national legislation, special obligations for the protection of nature derive from relevant International Conventions, which Greece has ratified also accruing from its participation in international organizations such as the Council of Europe and UNESCO. Internationally designated areas are Wetlands of International Importance included in the Ramsar Convention, World Heritage Sites (UNESCO), Biosphere Reserves (UNESCO, Man and the Biosphere), Specially Protected Areas (Barcelona Convention), Biogenetic Reserves (Council of Europe) and the Regions to which a Eurodiploma has been awarded (Council of Europe).
We respect and protect in every way the protected areas of our country as they constitute the protection net for Greece’s biodiversity and perhaps its last refuge.