A1 aims at a concrete ranking, mapping & visualization of sectors within the 2 Greek sub-areas of the proposed project (since sub-area of Pindos National Park was covered under LIFE ARCPIN project) & Majella National Park in Italy, presenting high risk of human-bear interference which might degenerate into conflict situations detrimental to the target species. It will provide the necessary information in order to prepare the ground for specific concrete conservation actions implementation.
Identification and delineation of the hot spots with the higher risk of negative bear-human interference will be achieved through compilation, analysis and scoring of all related active factors involving human activity and infrastructure components in relation to bear presence and activity using the following tools which will be developed in cooperation between all the responsible action beneficiaries:
• Development of a geographic data base (GIS) on the following information layers: topographic, administrative, forest vegetation, settlements, road network, agricultural lands etc.
• Collection & mapping of additional field data through interviews using a questionnaire on human activities related to human related food-conditioning factors (i.e. domestic refuses, garbage dumps, farms, small scale cultivations etc.).
• A statistical analysis using risk assessment tools (i.e. “Hot spot – Getis Ord Gi”) will be performed on the aforementioned data.
The outcome of this analysis will be a spatial scoring & delineation of hot spots with high risk of human-bear interference which will be colourfully visualized on thematic maps. This spatial identification will facilitate the implementation of the relevant concrete conservations targeting brown bear.
Action A2 aims at acquiring quantified figures on the actual population status of the target species in the four sub-areas of the proposed project. It is important to have the most accurate figures possible that will allow to better orientate & adjust the geographic & operational scope of the concrete conservation actions.
The concrete figures will be on:
• the number of bears present in the 4 sub-areas (Pindos, Prespa & Rhodope National Parks in Greece & Majella NP in Italy);
• the population structure (age classes, sex ratio etc.) in Greece & Majella NP with particular focus on females and females with cubs presence in this last sub-area; c) their genetic variability & robustness in Greece; d) the spatial distribution of bears sampled in Majella NP in relation to other portion of the bear range (i.e. if, where and when the same bears have been sampled in other portion of the range).
Greece: installation of a network of hair- traps on power poles in the remaining sub-areas of the proposed project. This sampling method is based on the fact that bears use wooden power poles for marking & rubbing. To the already existing permanent network of 550 hair-traps, the network will be completed mostly in Prespa NP. Complementary material will be collected through fresh scats.
Laboratory analyses will be based on DNA isolation & PCR amplification of minimum 10 microsatellite loci.
Majella NP: hair-traps with barbed wire will be installed both systematically & opportunistically (i.e. in case of bear presence detection, during damage surveys, in areas of food concentration etc.) with a sampling scheme based on seasonal food availability. Barbed wire will be also placed on known or newly found rub trees during summer. Collection of fresh scats will be implemented opportunistically to complement hair samples collection.
Genetic samples will be sent to the laboratory officially designated for Apennine brown bear genetic analyses, where samples are now analyzed with DNA isolation & PCR of 13 microsatellite loci plus 1 locus for the sex. This will guarantee the comparison of results in Majella NP with other portion of the bear range as well as with the past.
A stratified sampling transects network following forest roads network will be surveyed twice during the 1st year of project implementation for detection of bear bio-signs.
A network of 43 and 20 IR cameras will be deployed over the 2 Greek sub-areas and Majella NP respectively, for a 4-month period based on a 5X5km or 10X10 km grid-cell rotation system.
Bear individuals identification & calculation of relative abundance will corroborate the outcome of methods 1 & 2.
University of Thessaly
The goal of this preparatory action is to facilitate the coexistence of brown bears with livestock farming, apiculture & with other human activities & maintain this status in the long-term.
An interesting motive for local producers & tourism providers could be the implementation of a «bear-friendly» (or «bear-respectful») labelling program, which is expected to add value to their products & services, as well as further promote the local production to new buyers. In the framework of this study, various products and tourist services are going to be evaluated in order to assess their relevance to wildlife-friendly practices. Under this program, a registered logo will be awarded to all products and services which are produced using a series of «bear-friendly» practices.
The study will identify those products and tourist services offered in the project area that could be positively related with the conservation of the brown bear.
Production methods that are friendly to the target species, agro-biodiversity (specific plant varieties), organic products, use of cultivation methods for the support of brown bear population, use of effective methods to protect livestock and beehives (electric fences, guarding dogs) are all examples of desirable practices that will be standardized. Training material on “brown bear friendly practices and production methods” will also be produced.
C.1 (“Stakeholder Analysis”)
Sub-action C1.1 is a prerequisite for Sub-action C1.2 (“Local Platforms for Coexistence between People and Bears”). Stakeholders in bear conservation and management will be identified (e.g., local authorities, farmers vulnerable to bear attacks, local people engaged in tourism, hunters, the Forestry Service, members of Managing Authorities of National Parks, environmental non-governmental organizations). Interviews with stakeholder members will be conducted on topics crucial for brown bear conservation and management. Stakeholder analysis will examine current or anticipated adoption of good practice in large carnivore conservation and management and aims at outlining strengths and weaknesses of each stakeholder group separately.
Interviews will address perceptions, behaviour, and intentions within each stakeholder group. After interview data have been collected and analysed, focus groups will be conducted to depict stakeholder interaction that might either enable or present barriers to adopting good practice. The results of interviews and focus group discussions will feed into a SWOT analysis, one for each National Park.
Sub-action C1.2 will involve the establishment and operation of one Local Platform in each National Park. Platforms with representatives of all stakeholder groups in bear conservation and management will operate under the supervision of the Managing Authorities of the National Parks. Using the SWOT analyses of Sub-action C1.1, the core aim of Sub-action C1.2 will be to stimulate the adoption of good practices. The sub-action will also assist in creating and maintaining trust among stakeholders. Each Platform will convene regularly once every six months and irregularly, anytime this will be needed. Minutes of Platform Meetings will be kept. Apart from regular or irregular Platform Meetings, Local Platforms will organize an annual workshop in each National Park for broader consultation and outreach purposes, which will elaborate on adoption of good practices.
The methodology on which the operation of the Platforms and workshops will be based will be informed by “alternative dispute resolution” and it will build on a “mixed-motive” perspective. Any solution to human-bear conflicts would require the balancing of interests among a complex array of stakeholders, and this cannot be achieved unless both costs and benefits for all stakeholders would be thoroughly addressed. The “mixed-motive” perspective acknowledges the need to distribute benefits but also wishes to negotiate trade-offs. This will foster reconciliation among stakeholders, accountability and trust. Stakeholder representatives and spokespersons will be invited to take part in Local Platforms.
The Action aims to improve the capacity of the Parks’ personnel participating as Associated Beneficiaries, of other National Parks (outside the project sub-areas), as well as of the Forestry Service District Departments, of Gamekeepers & ELGA in Greece & other organisations involved in wildlife management, on bear/humans conflict resolution or bear damages assessment, both inside and outside the project areas (for replicability & transferability purposes) besides the project area, training will also include staff of organisations operating outside the project area, in other regions with bear populations.
C2.1, Training courses: 3 3-day training courses will be organised in Greece, including an introductory meeting held at headquarters of the 3 Parks, followed by practice in the field.
C2.2, Seminars: 2 3-day training courses will be organized in University of Thessaly, for people involved in the management of bears in Greece. Topics of training will include field techniques on monitoring bear population, detection of poison baits, first aid to poisoned animals, bear damages assessment & communication techniques for involving stakeholders & conflict resolution procedures.
C2.3, Exchange trips: Grants for 3 experience exchange trips will be organised to European destinations for staff of the aforementioned organisations & Majella NP. The trips will be organised in cooperation with other ongoing bear projects or wildlife conservation authorities & NGOs. Special provision will be given on participation of staff who is employed by the aforementioned organisations outside the project area.
C2.4, Training courses/seminar in Majella NP: 1 course will be organized in Majella NP to train its staff on issues addressed in Greece with tasks C2.1 and C2.2. A 5-day training course will be held in Majella NP headquarters and in the field during the practice sessions.
Sub-action C3.1: Operation of Anti-Poison Dog Units (ADUs)
The first sub-action involves training & operation of ADUs, one in each Greek Park. Poison detection dogs are especially trained to search & locate in the field several types of poison baits, poisoned carcasses & also already poisoned animals.
Sub-action C3.2: Production & dissemination of Anti-Poison First Aid Kits
The second sub-action aims to educate & support the livestock farmers in cases of shepherd dogs poisoning. A first aid kit containing all the necessary drugs, relevant equipment & instructions at the first critical stages, will be provided to livestock farmers operating in the targeted areas.
Sub-action C3.1: ADUs
200 surveys will be contacted in each area according to season & weather conditions during the project. Frequency of surveys will be affected by seasonality of poison events & relevant information gathered by project personnel. Besides scheduled surveys, ADUs will respond to any call as soon as possible, when information on animal poisoning or poison bait use, is communicated.
Surveys will be mapped & a specific form will be filled by each team in order to provide details on sampling effort & evaluate results.
Competent authorities will be informed on each incident in order to follow legal procedures.
Sub-action C3.2: First Aid Kits
A total of 700 kits will be disseminated to farmers. All necessary drug agents will be contained in a non- disposable water-resistant light box in order to be easily carried by shepherds in the field. The kit will also contain a four-page brochure with comprehensive instructions. All project partners will attend a brief training course under this Action. The veterinarian team will educate all staff on basic issues of poisoning & how to inform shepherds on the provided first-aid kit utility. A GIS database of livestock farmers supplied with the kit will be created.
This action aims at introducing, using & demonstrating for the 1st time in the country an innovative, well-tested (both in Europe & US) & efficient method to minimize bear-human interference incidents: the Karelian Bear Dogs (KBDs).
The N. Pindos NP will purchase 2 Karelian Bear Dogs, will train the dogs & their handlers & will operate the dogs in the field to resolve bear-human conflict situations. Moreover, N. Pindos NP, will organise demonstrative sessions on bear aversive conditioning with the use of bear dogs in co-operation with the BETs for the necessary transfer of knowhow on training & operation of Bear-Dog Units (BDUs) to the personnel of other Authorities officially involved in the national BETs: Forestry Services, hunters associations, police, fire brigades etc.
From previous communications with expert trainers the dogs become fully operational at 2 years of age. Therefore, during the first 2 years, the dogs will be trained & come in contact with bears only by scent. They will be guided to spots where bear-human interference incidents occur & they will be handled in such a way so as to get alarmed in the perception of the bears scent.
After this initial 2-year training period, the dogs will be ready to operate & to demonstrate their skills both in N. Pindos NP & in the Greek project sub-areas. The dogs will be directed towards “problem” bears while they exhibit “habituated” behaviour on a defined spot. The dogs hunt the bear away by chasing it over a certain distance.
In Greece, this action aims at the establishment & operation of two Bear Emergency Teams in Prespa & Rhodope National Parks, involving staff members from Prespa NP & Rhodope Mountain Range NP as well as from CALLISTO. These BETs will be intervening in cases where a bear-human interference incident occurs & is characterized by an emergency degree.
Furthermore, the elaborated Bear-human Interference Management Protocol manual as well as the official BET & protocol institutionalized Ministerial Decision in 2014 will function as an appropriate platform & tool to start actively transferring know how on the BET operational standards & practices to the personnel from Parks that will get involved.
In Italy, this action aims both to the production of a BET protocol and the establishment of a BET team in Majella NP. MNP will thus participate according to the following activity flow: (1) Italy-Greece exchange will be developed with MNP staff visiting Greece to be trained; (2) a BET protocol will be written for Majella NP; (3) BET team will operate in all the human-bear interference situations that will occur; (4) the BET protocol produced will be proposed to the Environmental Ministry as a document to be extended to other areas where Apennine brown bear is present or expanding..
In Greece, the 2 BETs will consist of 2 CALLISTO experts, 1 experienced local assistant in each Park & 2 staff members from Prespa & Rhodope Mountain Range National Parks. They will be ready to intervene in each case involving bear-human interference, to collect the necessary data, to make the necessary autopsies if needed & especially to intervene in cases where a problematic situation occurs involving repetitive bear damage &/or “habituated” or “problem” bear situations. In persisting cases of “problem” bears the BET will deploy the bear aversive means as described under action C9. In all cases where bear-human conflict situations occur, BETs will intervene on the spot the fastest possible & according to the already established manual protocol it will act consequently in order to manage the situation in the most sustainable & durable way. Depending on the circumstances, a bear might have to be aversively conditioned, in an effort to reverse its habituated or problematic behavior, or relocated & in some extreme cases trans-located.
In case of “habituated” bear specimens showing a site-habituated behavior, the local BET of the target sub-area with the assistance of qualified staff from University of Thessaly & CALLISTO will immobilize the bear & fit it with a “virtual fence” radio-collar.
In Italy the four phases of the action will be developed as follows:
(1) Training: a 5 days training course in both a theoretical and practical phase will be organized in Greece in order to train 2-3 persons from Majella NP. During the course Greek staff will transfer expertise and know how both regarding protocol writing and BET operation.
(2) BET protocol writing: Based on expertise gained from phase 1, Majella NP staff will write a BET protocol for Majella NP and will designate staff to be included in the BET team.
(3) BET operation: Designated BET team will operate in every case in which human-bear interference occurs. Basing on previous years it is expected to have to cope with mainly 2 types of interventions: bear damages and bears intrusions in human settlements or villages mainly to feed on barnyard animals. In a minor percentage injured/ dead bear recoveries may also occur.
(4) Once written, the BET protocol will be submitted to the Environmental Ministry to propose its adoption as the official BET protocol for Apennine brown bear, still lacking at the moment.
Main goal of this action is to increase the participation of volunteers, canine societies, and animal lovers in efforts to minimise the illegal use of poison baits in the project area. To meet this goal, the project will motivate, train, equip, support and coordinate volunteers who will participate in “anti-poison patrols”. Volunteers will also participate in other activities such as recording and mapping of incidents where poison-baits were used, and information campaigns for local people or visitors of the National Parks.
The volunteers who will participate will be activated by the beneficiary responsible for the Action (CALLISTO) in Greece and by WWF in Italy, by co-operating with other project beneficiaries as well as other Local Authorities, local governments and other organizations.
University of Thessaly and WWF will support the training of the volunteers especially in issues related to the legal frame of the illegal poison baits, first aid in case of a poisoned animal by establishing a procedure of acting against poisoned baits. The National Parks will support the volunteers during their activities by collaborating in their hosting and their patrols.
The Action will establish groups of volunteers against Poison Baits in all four National Parks. Two categories of volunteers will participate in the action. The first category will be the short term volunteers who will participate for some days (not more than 15 days in total). The programme will be implemented each year in a different National Park. The action days will be decided after consultation with each National Park in order to cover the period that is more critical for their activities and to achieve the main goal of this action. The second category will involve long term engagement volunteers that can support the action by staying in the areas for a long period of time.
In Greece in selected villages & other sites new bear-proof refuse containers will replace the old ones. The containers will be easy to be used by humans, but impossible for bears to open & feed on the contents and become habituated on human food sources. In Majella NP one or more targeted village availability of barnyard animals to bears will be eliminated through distribution of bear-proof henhouses & iron doors for existing henhouses. Additionally, in both Greece & Italy, electric fencing will be used, in order to prevent the bears from feeding on locations, in the vicinity of human settlements & activities, causing bear-human conflicts.
Prespa NP will make a public procurement for the supply of bear-proof refuse containers and electric fences. The N. Pindos NP will attempt to create metallic covers for refuse containers that are both user friendly.
Prespa NP personnel will inform the stakeholders about these actions (availability, necessity, installation and function), deliver to them the special containers & the e-fences & support them in the installation of the latter.
N. Pindos NP will first make a prototype cover that will put to the test using infrared cameras to see any weaknesses and when the design is finalized they will put them in selected areas that are known to have problems with bears approaching the refuse containers to get food.
Majella NP, both basing on the results of A1 analysis and on the data of previous years damages events, will create a list of villages interested by the need to bear-proof henhouses reporting a priority scale ranging from “imminent” to “urgent” and “needed” also including villages not yet interested but with high probability of being interested in the future. Villages with higher priority will be selected to make henhouse inaccessible to bears through the use of patented bear-proof henhouses and the distribution of iron doors & electric fences.
A Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) Owners Network for the exchange, donation & dissemination of LGDs to breeders in the region will be developed/supported. The aim of this measure is to support the livestock farmers for provision/exchange of LGDs that will reduce the bear attacks and consequently the livestock losses and will lead to smoothing bear-human and bear-livestock co-existence, which will subsequently result to the reduction of the number of bears illegally directly or indirectly killed by the farmers. The fact that the livestock farmers owning high quality LGDs will gain social recognition from other farmers will further enhance the implementation of this supportive measure.
University of Thessaly will organize visits to livestock farmers in the project area. These visits will aim to develop a LGD Owners Network with the participation of livestock farmers owning good LGDs and others willing to acquire LGDs from the project. Moreover, during these visits, the dogs of the enrolled farmers will be evaluated in terms of their phenotype and behavioral characteristics. The puppies and adult dogs that will be evaluated as healthy and that will carry the necessary characteristics following evaluation, will be selected for donation to other livestock farmers.
To ensure the welfare of LGDs, the animals will be examined by veterinarians to assure that they are free of infectious diseases. The puppies and adult dogs will be clinically examined, vaccinated, treated for endo and ectoparasites and electronically signaled (microchip). The dog health booklets will be prepared in each case and they will be given to their new owner. Forms concerning the donated dog will be filled in every case of dog donation and photos will be taken from all the donated dogs.
The University of Thessaly field team will visit the livestock farmers and the donated dogs to provide veterinary care and to evaluate the health status, the growth and the progression of the LGDs once per year until the fourth year of the project implementation
Action C.9 aims at exerting aversive conditioning to habituated and/or problem bears occurring in the four sub-areas of the proposed project through the use of specific aversive means and devices specifically designed for bears. The main goal is to reverse bear’s habituated behaviour and subsequently reduce human-bear conflict situations and thus reduce probabilities of bear human-caused mortality. The key to successfully managing human-bear conflicts is to first minimize the number of incidents and, secondly, to deal with problem/habituated individuals in a non-lethal way.
Non-lethal Bear Management principle is negative conditioning to modify undesirable bear behaviour without eliminating the animal.
In order to achieve aversive conditioning in situations with “habituated” and/or “problem” bears in the three Greek sub-areas of the proposed project and in Majella NP in Italy, five and four types respectively of appropriate devices will be purchased by the project and used by the two BET teams in Greece and by the BET team in Majella NP. These devices and their functions are shortly described as follows:
Scarecrow: It keeps bears “intruders” away with a blast of cold water – a humane and effective deterring method. It is hooked up to a normal garden hose and mounted in the ground. When the motion detector senses movement, the Scarecrow sprays a 3-4 second burst of water and then resets itself.
Rex Plus Barking Dog Alarm: This Electronic device works to scare off intruding bears. Rex is a ferocious sounding dog who resides in a small box. It operates by radar and knows when a bear is attempting to enter settlement. If a bear comes too close Rex barks loudly and he stops as soon as the bear runs off.
Critter Gitter: The Critter Gitter detects animals moving into an area up to 13.5 m away using passive infrared, body heat or motion detection and then emits ear piercing sounds and flashes lights. This detector has been designed to change its sound and light patterns with each intrusion and automatically reset itself.
Food-trap with pepper spray: Looks and smells like a trash can, but is actually a Bear Educational device. The barrel is baited with food and armed with bear pepper spray. Once the bear takes the bait, he activates the triggering device and releases a blast of bear pepper spray directly into the bears face. The bear will relate this location with an unpleasant experience and be very reluctant to return.
Falcon Super-sound Signal Horn: It is a 1.5 oz air horn device that produces a maximum sound. Just a touch of thumb produces a piercing blast that can be heard up to a half mile over land and a mile over water. Palm-size convenience with unlimited uses from casual small-craft signalling to personal protection.
The above devices will be deployed only under specific circumstances -according to the BET Protocol manual in order to achieve a first level deterring impact on “problem” bears in combination with the use of the bear deterring kit.
The goal of this action is the long-term conservation & the promotion of coexistence of bears with livestock farming & with other human activities, through production of bear friendly agricultural products & the adoption of bear friendly practices by tourist holdings & other services.
Individual groups of people, for example hunters & livestock keepers, may come into conflict with bears because of their predation on wildlife & sheep. The basis for the successful conservation is to create motives for local producers to coexist & share the same habitat & the same natural resources.
One such motive is the implementation of a “bear-friendly” labelling program that will reward with a registered logo all products that are produced through the implementation of a series of “bear-friendly” practices. Similar marketing policies can contribute to the promotion of the local cultural identity, the enforcement of high quality standards in the products & services & ultimately the sustainable development of the concerned rural areas.
Qualification of farmers for implementing “bear-friendly” practices
In this aspect livestock farmers & beekeepers of the study area will participate in organized workshops & seminars regarding the use of LGDs & other prevention measures for the avoidance of conflicts with bears as well as the benefits arisen from the promotion & exploitation of “wildlife friendly” policies. These farmers will be supported in organizing & applying all these necessary practices & will be inspected regularly for the correct implementation of all measures. A labelling will be rewarded & updated annually to all farmers covering all the appropriate criteria. These farmers will be indicated to the cooperating local producing units for using their raw materials in the production process. These products will be identified by the special “bear-friendly” logo developed in the project.
Qualification of local producers for implementing the “bear-friendly” scheme.
In the framework of this action, local producing units in the wider area will be the main target. Producers will be able to organize the production of “bear-friendly” local products. They will be asked to implement a specific management system in which they will use raw material only from suppliers-farmers that use “bear-friendly” practices in their farming practice. Local producers will participate in relevant seminars & workshops & will be awarded with the “bear-friendly” logo for their product. Annual updates of the qualification will be performed after audits of the production process having to do especially with traceability & source of the raw material used.
The aim of this umbrella monitoring action is to try to evaluate positive effects upon Ursus arctos* conservation status, through the synergic implementation of actions C4, C5, C7 & C9.
The monitoring frame will consider at a first level the following indicators:
• Number of intervention cases of the mixed BET
• Parameters related to the circumstances characterizing each separate case of bear-human interference dealt by the BET such as: type of interference, frequency of occurrence, incentives of bear’s “habituated” behaviour.
• Feedback of the managed situation in terms of bears response to aversive conditioning.
• Comparison of bears’ feedback according to the aversive mean/device deployed.
Special emphasis will be given on the use of aversive means that will be deployed for the first time in the area targeted by the project such as: the operation of the Karelian Bear Dogs units (action C4) and bear specific deterring devices (C9).
Training of the staff of key conservation actors in the project’s areas is considered of significant importance for improving their capacity for implementing properly brown bear conservation actions and monitoring techniques. Therefore, a comprehensive monitoring methodology will be developed in order to assess the impact of the projects’ training actions on the bear conservation needs, as well as to document the effectiveness of the project’s training module.
The assessment of the training activities included in Action C2 and other actions of the project will include the development of specific indicators for monitoring the impact of the training actions to the staff of the conservation agencies and – overall – to the environment.
Therefore a concrete protocol will be used in order to address the assessment issues of the project that will involve the development of quantitative and qualitative indicators regarding the impacts of the training actions on: the people, the institutions, the procedures, the local communities and – overall – the natural environment in the project areas.
Monitoring of proper implementation and effectiveness of concrete action C.8 will allow recording the appropriate rearing, health issues, training and effectiveness of the measure. The main goal is to reduce carnivore attacks in the project area. Monitoring the rearing of donated dogs by farmers is crucial as its quality is a prerequisite for any other evaluation considering their effectiveness as guarding animals. Rearing quality will be assessed during visits based on their condition and health status. Monitoring of the actual performance of the donated dogs will be based on observations recorded in the field concerning behaviour of donated dogs related to livestock guarding.
Action D3 includes inspection and evaluation of the results of marketing the “bear-friendly” products and “bear friendly” services.
In order to achieve proper monitoring of action C.8, annual levels of livestock damage will be recorded prior to the interview date, so as to estimate an average annual pre-loss per farmer. The same individual farmers will be interviewed each time we make them a visit for the puppies’ clinical examination. Thus, all damages provoked by carnivores will be also recorded.
During the first 4 months after the donation of the dogs, the owners will be informed about the legal and proper handling of guarding dogs and will be asked to inspect behaviour of pups and provide help, if necessary.
Apart from that, inspecting and evaluating the results of the implementation of “bear-friendly” products action is too complicated, as it is very innovative for the existing conditions in the special Greek market at present. A product which will be marked by a newly designed “bear-friendly” logo is going to be launched in a competitive market that is being through an unprecedented financial recession, and in rural mountain areas of central Italy. We will record and follow up the financial prospects of this effort in a specific data form, by using questionnaires to farmers, companies and selling points or stores. Questionnaires can be sent or given to owners of local stores and consumers of the project area.
To achieve proper monitoring of anti-poison actions, observations and follow-up reports will be recorded before and during the implementation of the actions. Monitoring of the sub-action C.3.1 will evaluate the effectiveness of the Anti-Poison Dog Units at the project area, describing the measurable efforts of these Units. Respectively, measurable results will be collected following monitoring of actions C.3.2, C.6 contributing to the formation of a database.
Monitoring of the impact of sub-action C.3.1 will be assessed on the basis of the following recordings: number of patrols per year, number of supplementary interventions per year following information by local people, number of poison-baits found per year, number of poisoned-carcasses found per year, ratio of number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by each unit in the year before the starting of their operation / number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by each unit in the 1st year of their operation, ratio of number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by each unit in the 1st year of their operation / number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by each unit in the 2nd year of their operation.
Monitoring of the impact of action C.6, “assessing the effectiveness of volunteers against poison baits” will be based on similar recordings as the ones mentioned above: number of patrols/surveys per year, number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by volunteers per year, ratio of number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by volunteers in the year before the starting of their operation / number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by volunteers in the 1st year of their operation, ratio of number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by volunteers in the 1st year of their operation / number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by volunteers in the 2nd year of their operation, ratio of number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by volunteers in the 2nd year of their operation/ number of poison baits found in the territory controlled by volunteers in the 3rd year of their operation.
Monitoring of the impact of sub-action C.3.2 will be carried out by recording the following: number of Anti-Poison First Aid Kits donated to shepherds, hunters etc., number of persons who received a Kit by the project AND actually used it (in cases of poisoned animals), number of poisoned animals who were saved due to the use of this Kit, number of poisoned animals who finally died by poisoning, despite having used the kit.
Surveys on stakeholder perceptions and behaviour will be conducted as a follow-up of stakeholder consultation and involvement. Data input through questionnaires will be collected during annual in each National Park. The comparison of questionnaire data between subsequent years after the establishment and the operation of the Local Platforms in year 2021 will allow for a temporal assessment of trajectories during the course of the project.
A core mechanism to be employed in Action D5, specifically, in developing questionnaires and assessing questionnaire data, is a version of participatory scenario development in order to elaborate on a range of scenarios concerning ongoing and future stakeholder involvement. These scenarios will allow for the monitoring of adoption of good practice in bear conservation and management.
Using the SWOT analyses delivered in Action C1, the Human Dimension Expert responsible for Action D5 will develop draft scenarios for adopting good practice at three different levels of reference.
Local Platforms under the support of the Human Dimensions Expert will review and revise draft scenarios in each National Park. The final versions of the scenarios will be used for developing the questionnaire to be administered to members of stakeholder groups in each National Park.
This action aims to ensure the correct monitoring and measuring the project performance. In specific, the project performance indicators (including the figures inserted in the excel table of project performance indicators that has been submitted through e-Proposal as an attachment) will be monitored throughout the project by the Project Manager and an Experienced Researcher appointed by University of Thessaly.
Collection of necessary information on progress regarding performance indicators will be assisted by two experts – staff members of the National Parks of N. Pindos (PINDNP) and Rhodope Mountain-Range (RMNP). The experts of N. Pindos NP will also assist collection of necessary information by the personnel of the Management Body of Prespa Lakes National Park (MBPNP).
The ecosystem functions will be targeted as follows:
1. Given that large carnivores are considered as “umbrella species”, their conservation contributes to balanced ecosystems. Sustainable population and distribution levels of brown bears in the project sub-areas, provide evidence on high natural values of the respective areas. The implementation of effective damage prevention measures make possible and profitable the production of high quality agricultural products in the Parks and the improvement of conditions for coexistence between bears and farmers.
2. A healthy environment and especially the presence of large carnivores are two very important assets for the eco-tourism and recreational sector.
3. Brown bear it is species considered to provide specific ecosystem services as due to their omnivorous diet which is composed of 80-90% plant food. It is considered that seeds dispersal contributes, on the long term, in the diversification of plant species in a given area as well as in the densification of the under store vegetation cover structure.
Data collection on bear population levels and trend indicators as well as on distribution status will be achieved in the project area through systematic recording of signs of bear presence and activity such as: faeces, footprints, tree marking, presence of females with young. Mortality cases will also be thoroughly monitored and evidenced. Data will be collected through regular field surveys using a standard sampling protocol over the network of forest roads and major paths in order for results be comparable through time.
Moreover, the land cover types will be properly designated and delineated in the project sites, and the most nature-friendly farming applications and sustainable tourism practices will be described.
The purpose of Action D8 is to assess the impact of the project on the socio-economic conditions of the local population in all four National Parks of the project sub-areas.
With regard to the social impact, the project might, directly or indirectly, lead to the mitigation of human-bear conflict, decrease the perceived threat from bear and enhance a sense of security for the community, change their intentions, actual behaviour, and routines. Further, it can promote knowledge sharing; make decision-making procedures more effective and transparent; support the stakeholders’ empowerment and accountability, as well as strengthen trust and interaction among them. Indirect impacts might also affect demographics and gender issues at the local level.
Action D8 will be executed in three phases. At the first phase, the Action will define the scope of the socio-economic impact assessment and it will also outline the indicators to be used for the assessment of key impacts. A scoping procedure will conclude the first phase and it will distinguish among direct and indirect impacts of the project.
During the second phase, profiling of baseline impacts and conditions and profiling of anticipated impacts will take place. To profile baseline impacts and conditions, data from institutional sources will be sought.
In the third phase, indicators will be implemented to assess the actual project outcomes compared to the anticipated ones.
The main objective of this action is to introduce & disseminate the core message of the project to the targeted audience (general public, local people & key stakeholder groups), concerning human-bear coexistence.
Four issues will be mainly addressed:
a) Level of knowledge concerning the importance of bear-human coexistence for the bear conservation efforts
b) Level of knowledge concerning “habituated bears”
c) Consequences of the illegal use of poison baits for bear population control
d) Level of knowledge for the use of preventive measures for the minimization of damages caused by bears.
The main objective of this action is to design the visual identity of the project & produce the printed & audiovisual material that will be used to disseminate its core message to the target audience (general public, locals & key stakeholders) about human-bear coexistence.
a) Printed dissemination material
1. Main poster of the project, promoting the project’s key message concerning human bear coexistence and bear conservation importance
2. Brochure concerning the use of poison baits and their repercussions on the ecosystem
3. Brochure concerning the insurance regulation & preventive measures for damages caused by bears
4. Livestock Guarding Dogs handbook: It will describe appropriate rearing and training of shepherd dogs and will be disseminated to shepherds entering the LGD Owners Network
5. Leaflet concerning bear-human coexistence for mitigating people’s problems & fears concerning bear presence in the target areas
b) Audio-visual material
1. 3 different TV spots & 3 Radio spots of 30-60 seconds each, aiming at raising the awareness on bear conservation issues.
2. Translation in Greek & Italian of the audio content of the film “Why Bears?” and reproduction of it for the project website and for use at public events.
3. A short documentary film (20’) that will be realized in 2023-24 & will include a description of the process & the main goals & activities of the project.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation:
Sub-action E3.a: Replicability plan
Starting from 2021 a specific assessment will be made of the replicability level of the aforementioned activities in other Parks/Areas encountering similar problems/threats. This will include first results of the monitoring of the concrete conservation actions and therefore make a critical analysis of which could be the specific problems and advantages for the different interventions. All the findings will be summarised in a specific replicability plan, which will include also a financial projection.
Sub-action E3.b: Organisation of events facilitating replication and transfer
• Seminars on mitigation of the illegal use of poison baits:
3 seminars will be organised in 2022 at selected areas, preferably Parks or other areas where incidents of poisoned baits occur.
The seminars will be used for presenting and discussing the problem and its extent with local authorities, other wildlife management actors and key stakeholder groups. Anti-Poison First Aid Kits will be available for the participants. Demonstration of Anti-Poison Dog Units operate will also be organised in the field. Moreover, the participants will be encouraged to promote the “National Day against the use of poison-baits” and to commit themselves to participating actively in the organisation of local events in their areas.
• Seminars on management of bears exposing a “habituated” behaviour or/and causing unusually frequent damages on agriculture:
Situations involving bear-human interference with bears that expose a “habituated” or frequently attack agricultural holdings, both inside and outside protected areas, cause negative attitudes and reactions from local people.
Prevention measures and concrete conservation actions implemented by the project will be the subject of 4 seminars (2 in Greece & 2 in Italy) that will be organised in Parks/areas outside the project area, for ensuring their replication and transfer.
Special reference will be also made to prevention measures that can be applied by farmers, beekeepers and animal breeders, including the use of LGDs (Livestock Guarding Dogs), utilising the LGD Owners Network created by the project. Besides lectures and presentations, demonstration of the operation of Bear Emergency Teams and of bear-dog units will be organised.
Parks, local/regional authorities, NGOs & other entities will be called to replicate these measures in the areas under their competence. WWF will organize 2 replication seminars on habituated bears and bear-friendly policies in a key area (Gole del Sagittario Natural Reserve) for the ecological connection of Majella NP with the core area of the population of Ursus arctos marsicanus (Abruzzo, Lazio & Molise NP).
• Special meeting with officers of the “Green Fund”, the Ministry of Environment/Forestry Service & the Ministry of Citizen Protection:
Although previous LIFE projects achieved issuing a special Joint Ministerial Decision for addressing the cases of bears exposing a “habituated” behaviour, many practical and bureaucratic aspects remain unresolved, making the operation of Bear Emergency Teams difficult outside the areas where LIFE projects are implemented. The special meeting will be organised in Athens in 2021, with officers of the “Green Fund”, the Ministry of Environment/Forestry Service and the Ministry of Citizen Protection. After discussing in depth the specific problems and constraints, a Memorandum of Understanding will be issued.
• Seminars on production of bear friendly agricultural products and adoption of bear friendly practices by tourist holdings:
Apart from the seminars that will be organised by the project on year 2021 for presenting the findings of the study for valorisation, labelling & promotion of bear friendly products & services, 3 additional seminars will be organised in the last year of the project, in cities outside the project areas, for replication & transfer of best practice examples. Both seminars will address agriculture professionals, people employed in tourism & local/regional authorities.
• International workshop for transfer of best practices:
In the framework of the International Conference that will be organised in the last year of the project, a special workshop will be organised for participants from neighbouring countries (Albania, Republic of Northern Macedonia & Bulgaria). Main objective of the workshop will be to transfer best practices & lessons learned during implementation of the project in Greece & Italy.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation:
University of Thessaly
An update of all active projects on coexistence between bears/large carnivores and people will be made at the beginning of the project and the contact details will be set up. The project will be represented in several meetings & conferences organized by other projects.
Efforts to create a network with other Parks in Greece & Italy into the brown bear range will be also made during the project implementation period.
Finally, since in the project two of the beneficiaries are Universities, particular efforts will be made to enhance cooperation between the academic community & the conservation actors in Southern Europe (Parks, Forestry service, etc.).
Especially in Greece, apart exchange of experience & knowledge in the relevant network Coordinating Beneficiary will continue the campaign initiated in the frame of project LIFE ARCPIN for the establishment of a “National Day Against the use of Poison Baits” on February 22nd & it will be celebrated as a national anniversary against the use of poison baits.
An International Conference will be organized by University of Thessaly in cooperation with the UOWM, in order to disseminate experience gained and results obtained concerning the human-bear coexistence. The methods applied and their results will be presented by staff of the beneficiary partners along with the constraints faced during its implementation and the future sustainability of the actions carried out by the project, while other international experts, representatives of other LIFE projects, relevant public authorities and NGOs will also be invited to the Conference for exchanging knowledge and experiences in relation to the project’s subject.
The International Conference will have the form of an open meeting. Journalists, representatives of the key stakeholder groups, University students and involved parties will also be invited to participate. The participants will have the opportunity to be thoroughly informed about the project’s actions and all the project’s deliverables will be available for everyone attending the Conference. Participants will also be encouraged to share their opinions and concerns regarding the human bear coexistence issue, the project’s progress and the viability of results in the future. Special provision will be made for explaining how the project results and the solutions adopted could be replicated and transferred to other Bear Parks and areas.
The Conference will be organized in the first half of 2024, after the completion of almost all other activities and having available the majority of the results and the project findings.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation:
Sub-action E5.a: Delineation and mapping of thematic “bear trails”
The search, delineation & mapping of thematic “bear trails” inside the protected areas of 3 National Parks (NPs) is proposed. The trails that will be delineated by CALLISTO in Prespa NP & Rhodope Mountain Range NP and by WWF in Majella NP, will be of easy access and will pass through areas of high natural beauty & bear presence, possibly exploiting already existing paths. In order to delineate the trails, a study has to be applied to identify the most appropriate area of the parks in collaboration with the staff of the NPs. Apart from the bear trail selected for each NP, other paths will also be identified. Those paths will not have permanent marking, but the staff of the NPs will be able to use portable activity boxes when is needed. This will enhance the use of trails & activities of each NP.
CALLISTO & WWF will collaborate closely with the NPs in order to identify all possible paths. The paths will be suitable for all different categories of stakeholders: pupils, adults, Greeks, internationals, working on education or any other sector. During the delineation will be taken under consideration that NPs are visited by many tourists from neighbouring countries.
Sub-action E5.b: Implementation of environmental education activities
The specific action aims at raising public awareness concerning the human-bear coexistence issues. It is addressed both to students & adults, locals, local & foreign visitors. The main idea is to use the thematic “bear trails” delineated in E5.a for implementing environmental education programs.
In order for the trails to be used for educational purposes, their marking is necessary, thus a series of orientation signs & environmental interpretation boards will be placed alongside the trail. The orientation signs will mark the route of the trail, depict spots ideal for some rest & where the environmental interpretation boards are situated. The environmental interpretation boards will provide information for the brown bear, its biology & the threats it faces, focusing on the specific habits of the animal formed by the landscape’s particularity of each NP. Furthermore, some of the environmental interpretation boards will propose environmental education activities.
Complementary informational leaflet will also be produced. The leaflet will provide more detailed information for the area & the brown bear. In addition, it will contain propositions for environmental education activities that can be carried out at the trail. The leaflet will be used by general public & visiting schools. Also, workshops & guided visits will be organised to promote the “bear trails”.
By using the information acquired from E5.a, 3 trails will be selected, 1 in Rhodope Mountain Range NP, 1 in Prespa NP & 1 in Majella NP. Consecutively, an Environmental Education program will be created based on the approach of experiential environmental education.
In order to promote the use of the “bear trail” as a destination for environmental education activities & its usefulness to public awareness, 3 guided visits & 6 workshops for teachers will be organised & implemented by CALLISTO & WWF with the collaboration of the NPs.
The project will be developed by 8 beneficiaries: Four National Parks, two universities and two NGOs. CALLISTO will be the Coordinating Beneficiary.
The project Steering Group will be formed by representatives of the CB and of all the Associated Beneficiaries (ABs). Chair of the SG will be the representative of the CB and contact point for EC services (see picture “organigram”).
The meetings of the Steering Group will have the following objectives:
Presentation, by the representatives of each beneficiary of the progress of the actions under their coordination
Presentation of the progress of the communication actions
Discussion of potential delays and problems
Identification of solutions to solve the problems
Detailed planning for the following year
Briefing for the production of the reports for the EC
Discussion of progress of expenses and of administrative issues