Με ιδιαίτερη επιτυχία ολοκληρώθηκε το workshop για την παρουσίαση του έργου «Πρακτικές Προστασίας των Δασικών Πόρων και Διατήρησης των Δασικών Απειλούμενων Πόρων της Αττάλειας» (Antalya Forest Resources Conservation Practices – Conservation Implementation on Forest Endangered Resources of Antalya) (CONIFERA), που χρηματοδοτείται από την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και υποστηρίζεται από το Πρόγραμμα Στήριξης της Κοινωνίας των Πολιτών (CSD-III), τη Δευτέρα 17 Οκτωβρίου 2022, ώρα 13.00, στην Αίθουσα Συνεδριάσεων της Σχολής Επικοινωνιών του Μεσογειακού Πανεπιστημίου της Αττάλειας, στην Τουρκία (Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Antalya Turkey).
Στο workshop, που τίμησε με την παρουσία του ο κ. Ahmet Hakan Atik, Πρόεδρος του Τμήματος Υλοποίησης Ευρωπαϊκών Έργων του Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών της Τουρκίας, παρουσιάστηκαν ιδιαίτερα ενδιαφέρουσες επιστημονικές εισηγήσεις ερευνητών του Μεσογειακού Πανεπιστημίου, της Ελληνικής Εταιρείας Προστασίας της Φύσης (HSPN) και της ομάδας CONIFERA, σχετικές με τα θέματα του έργου.
Μέσα σε κλίμα αμοιβαίας συνεργασίας, επιστημονικού διαλόγου και εγκάρδιας φιλοξενίας στις εγκαταστάσεις της πανεπιστημιούπολης, το πλούσιο πρόγραμμα που επεφύλαξαν οι Τούρκοι διοργανωτές στους Έλληνες συμμετέχοντες περιελάμβανε, εκτός από την πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα εκδήλωση, εκδρομή στο Εθνικό Πάρκο Ολύμπου (Beydağları Sahil Milli Parkı), πεζοπορία και περιήγηση με βάρκες στο Φαράγγι Göynük (Göynük Canyon), ανάβαση με τελεφερίκ στην υψηλότερη κορυφή του όρους Όλυμπος (Tahtalı Dağı, 2.365 μ.), απογευματινό περίπατο στο παραθαλάσσιο θέρετρο Kemer και βραδινή βόλτα στην πανέμορφη παλαιά πόλη της Αττάλειας με τα υπέροχα αρχοντικά και τα πολύβουα σοκάκια της. Ένα μοναδικό τετραήμερο που, όσοι είχαμε τη χαρά να συμμετάσχουμε, θα θυμόμαστε πάντα με τις καλύτερες αναμνήσεις!
Η Ελλάδα και η Τουρκία, ως Μεσογειακές γειτονικές χώρες, έχουν πολλά κοινά στοιχεία αλλά και πολλές κοινές προκλήσεις και προβλήματα να αντιμετωπίσουν σε σχέση με το φυσικό περιβάλλον τους. Τα ασύγκριτης ομορφιάς φυσικά τοπία τους, οι εκπληκτικοί οικότοποι και η πλούσια βιοποικιλότητα των δύο χωρών αποτελούν σημεία επαφής και ιδανικές αφορμές για σύμπραξη και συνεργασία μεταξύ των λαών τους, στο παρόν και στο μέλλον.
Η εισήγηση που ακολουθεί παρουσιάστηκε στο πλαίσιο της εκδήλωσης και έχει θέμα: «Legal topics on environmental protection according to the European Union-law» («Νομικά θέματα περιβαλλοντικής προστασίας κατά το Ευρωπαϊκό δίκαιο περιβάλλοντος»). Το κείμενο παρατίθεται στην αγγλική, στη μορφή που αναπτύχθηκε, και συνοδεύεται από σχετική ψηφιακή παρουσίαση με διαφάνειες (power points).
Legal topics on environmental protection according to the European Union-law
Sophie Ε. Pavlaki*
Environmental protection generally concerns the need of living in healthy and ecologically balanced environment which may allow the sustainable development of human as well as of all species and natural systems.
1. European Union Environmental Law
From the beginning of its establishment, European Union made clear that economic, social and cultural development could not be approached without environmental and ecological orientation. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 included environmental protection to the basic principles of the European Union policies and the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007 included the fight against climate change among the basic objectives of the European Union’s environmental policy.
The guiding principles of the European Union’s environmental law are:
1. The principle of prevention which requires that preventing environmental harm is cheaper, easier and less dangerous than reacting to environmental harm that has already taken place.
2. The principle of precaution which was expressed in Rio Declaration (1992) and stipulates that «lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation». Principle of prevention has to do with environmental damage while principle of precaution is related to environmental risk.
3. The principle of sustainability which provides that any human activity should ensure the preservation of ecosystems for the benefit of future generations.
4. Τhe «polluter pays» principle which provides the basis for environmental liability.
5. The principle of public participation in environmental policies and in decision-making of certain plans and programs relating to the environment (Aarhus Convention 2005, Regulation (EC) 1367/2006, Directive 2003/35/EC)
6. The principle of public access to environmental information (Aarhus Convention 2005, Regulation (EC) 1367/2006, Directive 2003/4/EC), and
7. The principle of public access to justice concerning environmental cases (Aarhus Convention 2005, Regulation (EC) 1367/2006, Directives 85/337, 96/61/EC, 2003/4, 2003/35).
The European Union’s environmental policy is mainly held by Regulations and Directives. Regulations are directly applicable legislation while Directives are incorporated into national law by decrees or ministerial decisions. Also very important is the jurisprudence of European Court of Justice that interprets European environmental legislation.
The most important European legislation for the protection of the environment is the «Habitats Directive» 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora, and the «Bird Directive» 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds.
2. Protected areas
According to legislation of the European Union, protected areas are geographical areas dedicated to the long-term conservation of nature. In Europe there are many protected areas under certain protection frameworks:
a) Natura 2000 European Ecological Network
The most important European framework is Natura 2000 European Ecological Network which includes sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types. It stretches across all 27 European Union countries, both on land and at sea.
The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.
Natura 2000 is the largest organized network of protected areas in the world. It includes: 1. Special Protection Areas (SPA), who are automatically included in the Network after their designation by member states (art. 6 par. 2, 3 and 4 of Habitats Directive, art. 4 of Birds Directive), 2. Sites of Community Importance (SCI) (art. 6 par. 2, 3 and 4 of Habitats Directive), and 3. Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).
Greece has already designated 202 Special Protection Areas (SPA) and 241 Sites of Community Importance (SCI). Also 239 greek sites are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) according to greek Law 3937/2011.
All sites of Natura 2000 Network are posted on a digital base of the greek Ministry of Environment, accompanied by specific information, data and maps that are available to all interested citizens.
b) Protection provided by national environmental legislation
In Greece environmental legislation (law 1650/1986) provides the framework for protected areas. This certain law also regulates the licensing process for activities that may have effects on the environment in accordance to European Union law.
Protected areas are characterized as: a) National parks, b) Wildlife refuges, c) Protected Natural Landscapes, and d) Protected Natural Formations and are included in the European List of Nationally Protected Areas.
Wetlands of international interest are protected by the International Ramsar Convention of 1971 (legislative decree 191/1974). In Greece ten (10) wetlands of international importance are protected by the Ramsar Convention.
4. World cultural and natural heritage
The UNESCO Convention (Paris 1972) protects the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (law 1126/1981) as: a) natural elements of outstanding global importance because of their aesthetic or scientific value, or b) as geological formations and areas where endangered species of global importance live, or c) as natural areas of global scientific or aesthetic importance.
The European Landscape Convention (Florence 2000) (law 3827/2010) promotes the protection, management, planning and international co-operation for the landscape.
6. Protected natural monuments
Trees, wetlands, rare plants and other kind of natural formations of some special botanical, phytogeographical, aesthetic or historical significance, can be declared as protected natural monuments. In Greece there have been characterized seventy (70) protected natural monuments.
Other rules for the protection of special natural areas are provided by: 1. European CORINE Programme, 2. The UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, 3. The European Network of Biogenetic Reserves, and 4. the European Diploma for Protected Areas.
7. Protection of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the variety of ecosystems, species and genes that exist in the world or in a specific habitat. Biodiversity is crucial for the ecosystem functions in nature, such as pollination, climate regulation, flood protection, soil fertility and production of food, fuel, fiber and medicine.
Today there is worldwide an increasing loss of biodiversity with serious consequences for the natural world and human well-being. Key causes of this loss are changes caused to natural habitats by intensive agricultural production, human activities, deforestation, intensive exploitation of oceans, rivers, lakes and land, pollution and global climate change.
Goal 15 named «Life on land» of the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to achieve a world with zero land degradation. Furthermore the European Union Biodiversity Strategy is a long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems, which aims to put Europe’s biodiversity on a recovery path through specific commitments and actions that must be implemented by 2030.
Urgent action is also adopted for the end of illegal trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and for the reducing of impact of invasive alien species on ecosystems.
Also very important is Regulation (EU) 511/2014 for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (2010) according to which traditional knowledge and the way of living of indigenous and local communities could provide important information for the protection and management of genetic resources and for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
8. Protection of marine, coastal and water environment
The European Union’s nature conservation policy also contains important rules for the protection of marine, coastal and water environment. The most important legislation for this is: 1. Directive 2008/56/EC on the protection and preservation of the marine environment from destructive human activities, 2. The Barcelona International Convention (1976) for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea from pollution, 3. The United Nations Convention of Montego Bay on Law of Sea, 4. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (1973) and its 1978 Protocol (MARPOL 73/78) and 5. Resolution 84/132/EU of the European Council on the specially protected areas of the Mediterranean Sea and the preservation of its natural resources and its biodiversity.
According to Barcelona International Convention nine (9) specially protected areas of the Mediterranean Sea have been designated in Greece. Protection of environment of the Aegean islands is also regulated by Greek law 3201/2003.
9. Forest protection and management
Forests are a particularly important element of the natural environment. In Greece, the protection of forests is based in the Constitution itself as well as in forest legislation mainly through the obligation for their sustainable management and the prohibition of change of their character in case of damage or destruction.
Forests cover 30% of the Earth’s surface and provide food security and wild life shelter. They constitute a fundamental parameter of balance in nature and life on the entire planet. This makes forests a regulator of the global climate, a key-factor in the water cycle and a guardian of human life in all times and cultures.
According to data given by Goal 15 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, about 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. This number includes seventy (70) million indigenous peoples.
The natural function of forests, as complex ecosystems of great ecological, economic and aesthetic value, allows the development and preservation of life and biodiversity in them.
Forests provide habitats for more than 80% of all terrestrial animal, plant and insect species. They host habitats both of indigenous and migratory populations of the majority of wild fauna and bird species. Forests also provide an ideal environment for the growth of thousands of species of flora, while important water ecosystems develop in them such as lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands etc.
Forest environment also allows all necessary physical functions that ensure the desired levels of moisture and vital oxygen in the atmosphere. In addition to these, forests ensure protection from dangerous solar radiation and are considered as a shield from floods, who also increase dangerously due to climate change and deforestation.
Every year, about thirteen (13) million hectares of forest are lost, due to the continuous degradation of large areas of the planet. Deforestation and desertification due to human activity in forests as well as climate change cause serious threats to forests and affect life of millions of people around the world.
However efforts are being made to manage forests desertification or damage.
The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims the promoting of sustainable management of all types of forests, the reduce of deforestation, the restoring of destroyed forests and the sustainable conservation of mountain ecosystems including their biodiversity, which is considered as absolutely necessary for sustainable development.
The increasing need of fighting against climate change forces European Union to adopt a common forest policy for all its member states. The New Forestry Strategy of the European Union by 2050 aims to address the current risks and challenges for European forests and to release their potential for the future. The New Forest Strategy recognizes the role of forests in achieving a sustainable and climate-neutral economy.
In April 2021, the work of the 8th Forest Europe Ministerial Conference, organized in Bratislava, addressed important current challenges facing European forests and the forest sector, including their role in climate change adaptation. The Conference ended in the adoption of a Declaration which emphasizes the importance of forests for sustainable development, environmental balance and climate change.
According to Regulation (EU) 841/2018 (land use, land use change and forestry – LULUCF), forestry is established as a «key» mechanism for curbing climate change, through the sustainable management of existing forests and the creation of new ones.
Except these, the 2006 International Agreement on Tropical Timber promotes the development of policies for the sustainable use and conservation of rainforests as well as for the conservation of ecological balance in the world tropical timber logging and trade. The Agreement emphasizes that wood is a renewable and environmentally friendly raw material with high energy efficiency, recognizes the importance of wood and its trade for the economies of countries as well as the contribution of forest management to sustainable development and the reducing of poverty.
The great value of forests as ecosystems is also reflected in the recent actions and announcements of the European Commission which, on August 25th of 2022, launched an online public consultation on a legislative proposal for a new European Union framework for forests according to European Union forest strategy. The aim is to develop a pan-European forest observation framework, which will provide open access to detailed, accurate, regular and timely information on the status and management of EU forests. All interested parties are invited to share their views in the online public consultation which will run until November 17th 2022.
10. Environmental liability
Environmental liability is a fundamental mechanism of protecting the environment and restoring the environmental damage. It is regulated by Directive 2004/35/EU based on the «the polluter pays» principle. In Greece, this Directive has been incorporated into our legislation since 2009 while related laws provide penalties for pollution or other destruction. Even the possibility of risk of damage can be punished by courts in Greece especially in cases of damage due to radiation or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
11. Examples from Case law
a) Protected areas – Primeval forest of Białowieska, Poland
According to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice (art. 6 par. 3 of Habitats Directive), member states do not only have a general obligation to take measures for the protection of their habitats but, in order to approve management plans in protected areas, they must have ensured that these plans will not have a negative effect on protected areas (case C-441/2017 judgment of 17 April 2018, Białowieska Case).
b) Marine and coastal oil pollution – Ship wreck in caldera of Santorin
The case of the wreck of «Sea Diamond» cruise ship (2007) in the sea area of Caldera in Santorin, Greece, was a case of environmental liability, whereupon the court of Piraeus (decision 464/2014) ordered the ship’s recovery from the seabed at the expenses of the ship-owning company, amounting to 80 million euros.
The court accepted that the caldera of Santorin is a sensitive environment of rare ecological, geophysical and aesthetic value, which was harshly affected by the ship wreck and the release of petroleum products, heavy metals and polluting materials. According to the decision, the possibility of restoring future damage is of particular importance, since environmental damage has consequences that extend not only today but also to future generations.
c) Hexavalent chromium pollution of Asopos river in Viotia, Greece
This case concerned the contamination of water of Asopos river in Viotia district, north of Athens. The court of Chalkida, Evoia (decision 1158/2010) accepted that hexavalent chromium is mainly caused by human and industrial activity. Its effect on human health was the subject of a similar case in ‘90s in the city of Hinkley, California (USA), which was also the scenario of the well-known film «Erin Brockovitch» starring Julia Roberts.
As accepted by the Greek court, drinking water is also included in the protected natural environment. Industrial activity must not offend the individual’s claim to live and develop in a clean and healthy environment. The Court also accepted that the water supplied to the area by the responsible municipal enterprise was not healthy and safe, but posed serious risks to the health of twenty thousand (20,000) residents, as analyzes carried out revealed the presence of hexavalent chromium at a dangerous rate for the human body such as stomach disorders, liver diseases and cancer.
d) European Court of Justice – Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
In this last case (C-236/2001 judgment of 9 Sept. 2003, Monsanto Agricoltura Italia SpA and others v. Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri etc.) the European Court of Justice accepted that in accordance to European Union legislation (Directive 90/220/EU), no product containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be released into the European Union environment without the prior written consent of the competent authority of the member state.
Hope these topics help to understand the European Union environmental law. Turkey and Greece, as Mediterranean neighbor countries, have much in common to do for their natural environment, now and in the future!
Thank you! – Teşekkür ederim! – Ευχαριστώ πολύ!
* ATTORNEY AT LAW, Athens Bar Association, LAW DEGREE, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES, Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Forestry, CANDIDATE PhD, University of the Aegean, Dep. of Mediterranean Studies.
1. Στις εγκαταστάσεις του τελεφερίκ προς την κορυφή του Ολύμπου (16 Οκτ. 2022)
2. Στην κορυφή του Ολύμπου (Tahtalı, 2.365 μ.)
3. Παραθαλάσσιο τουριστικό θέρετρο Kemer
4. Το Φαράγγι Göynük (Kemer Göynük Canyon) στο Εθνικό Πάρκο Ολύμπου (Beydağları Sahil Milli Parkı)
5. Από την Ημερίδα του έργου, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Antalya Turkey (17 Οκτ. 2022)