The project “Nature Guardians, Active Citizens for Sustainable Management and Preservation of Protected Areas” is being implemented under the Active citizens fund in Greece by Greek Ecotourism Society.

The Active citizens fund in Greece is supported through a € 12m grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as part of the EEA Grants 2014 – 2021. The program aims to develop the sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector in Greece, and to strengthen its role in promoting and safeguarding democratic procedures, active citizenship and human rights. The Fund Operator for the Active citizens fund in Greece is Bodossaki Foundation in consortium with SolidarityNow. More information: www.activecitizensfund.gr/en.

The proposed project corresponds to the ever-present need for citizen participation in environmental preservation, especially in protected areas of important ecological significance.

The management of these areas is key to their preservation and the participation of citizens in management decisions that concern protected areas is a right and obligation not only for the inhabitants of these areas but also for ecotourists and for environmental NGOs active active in the region.

In this context, ELETOIK, aims to offer a free and easily accessible “forum” to encourage the activation of citizen participation in decisions for the management and the preservation of protected areas. The activities of the project include:

  • Establishment of an online platform for citizens and NGOs (directly linked to the website of ELETOIK) to bring together all interested parties, to register their observations and proposals for the improvement of the protection of an area, so that the local Management Unit of the Protected Area will shape their decisions accordingly. The platform will allow space for online discussions with the local Management Unit. The effectiveness of the platform will be evaluated in a pilot application in a protected area.
  • Organize a one-day conference that will host environmental NGOs, and public authorities responsible for the protected areas in order to discuss public participation in decisions that concern protected areas and the improvement of the methods employed to achieve this aim.
  • Create a brief guide for the participation of citizens in decisions concerning the management and protection of protected areas. The Guide will be uploaded on the platform and will be freely available as training material for public participation and for use of the platform.

The above activities are expected to help jumpstart the wider effort to involve citizens in the management and preservation of protected areas, including those who live and work in the areas or who visit the areas as ecotourists.