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Beneficiaries

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Protecting biodiversity at NATURA 2000 sites and other protected areas from natural hazards through a certified framework for cross-border education, training and support of civil protection volunteers based on innovation and new technologies (eOUTLAND)

Centre for Research and Technology Hellas / Information Technologies Institute
Institute of Information and Communication Technologies - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Municipality of Zlatograd
Network for the operational Support and Education of the volunteers' Associations in the field of Civil Protection against natural disasters - NSEA
Regional Municipalities Association MARITZA

Project Background:
eOUTLAND is intended to be a broader scale follow-up of an already successful CB project entitled OUTLAND. OUTLAND led to the foundation of the inter-municipal non-profit organization "Network for the operational support and education of the volunteers' associations in the field of Civil Protection against natural disasters - NSEA" in Greece with the support of the Municipality of Zlatograd in Bulgaria (MOU between Municipalities of Thermi and Zlatograd). NSEA has six Greek members (Municipalities of Thessaloniki, Thermi, Pilaia-Chortiatis, Neapoli-Sikies, Oreokastro and Komotini).

eOUTLAND comes to capitalize and further develop its synergies in order to establish better protection terms of NATURA 2000 sites and other protected areas of the CB region against natural hazards (wildland fires/floods). In the past 15 years a significant number of wildfires were reported in both countries, causing the loss of biodiversity at many forest ecosystems while many have been recorded in the eligible CB area and in a short distance from the borderline. A large number of these fires have occurred within NATURA 2000 sites. Regarding floods, the previous years flood incidents have been reported among the main CB rivers running through the eligible area, at urban areas of Thessaloniki and Thermi and also the plains of Thessaloniki, Xanthi and Komotini.These areas are included at the High Risk Flood Zones (Flood Directive 2007/60).

The GR-BG eligible CB area includes about 100 Greek and Bulgarian NATURA 2000 sites. From these, 11 Greek NATURA 2000 sites and 15 Bulgarian NATURA 2000 sites adjoin with the Greek-Bulgarian borders. The CB area is densely forested with important and endangered flora and fauna species and a region where several human socio-economic activities take place. It is thus self-evident that the region is highly rich in biodiversity value and that protection against natural hazards on a CB level is a bet of utmost importance that needs to be won. The project focuses mainly on five protected areas: (a) “Seich Sou” (protected area of outstanding natural beauty), (b) protected “Waterfront Reforestation Area of Thessaloniki”, (c) “Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest” (NATURA 2000 site), (e) “SAKAR” (NATURA 2000 site) and (f) “Derventski Vazvishenia 1” (NATURA 2000 site).

At the moment there is no joint CB CPV operational practice undertaken before, during or after a natural disaster happening at a CB level. The proposed project comes to fill in this gap by introducing (a) the operational expansion of the CPV support structures (NSEA/MARITZA) through specialized staffing,equipment, knowledge and CB networking,(b) a common and certified CB framework to enhance the operational capacity of the CB CPV towards environmental/biodiversity protection from natural hazards,and (c) a base for future sustainability by establishing certification procedures,ensuring the transferability/replicability of the project’s results and creating a viable/sustainable CB network.

Objectives:
The overall objective of the project is the protection of NATURA 2000 and other protected areas from natural hazards through a certified framework for education, training and support of civil protection volunteer groups on a joint cross-border basis. The project’s main objective is the enforcement of the cross-border biodiversity resilience of specific protected areas in both countries against disasters or exceptional circumstances occurring after natural hazards such as wildfires and floods.

eOUTLAND aims in achieving the latter through the following specific objectives:
a) the establishment of successful interoperability between Greece and MARITZA Bulgaria,
b) the creation of a robust, certified and cross-border joint educational/ training system for the civil protection volunteer groups which deal with the management of natural disasters such as wildfires and floods,
c) the utilization of the involved structures’ scientific/ technical tools and means by the trained/ certified civil protection volunteer groups during their operations,
d) the appropriate equipment of the trained and certified civil protection volunteer groups via the involved structures, and
e) the establishment of a joint cross-border approach on issues of environmental protection against natural disasters with the support of civil protection volunteer groups.

Outputs:
eOUTLAND’s main output is the expansion of existing civil protection volunteers’ supporting structures in Greece and Bulgaria, through specialized staffing, equipment, knowledge and cross-border networking. This leads to better protection conditions of NATURA 2000 sites and other protected areas of the cross-border region against natural hazards (wildland fires/floods). The latter directly links to the project’s specific objectives and specifically to its main one; i.e. the enforcement of the cross-border biodiversity resilience of specific protected areas in both countries against disasters linked to natural hazards.

The specific outputs which associate directly to the project’s specific objectives are:
a) joint educational/ training material for the cross-border civil protection volunteer groups, ICT tools (e-learning platform, e-documentation center, educational applications) and joint events (many-day training events in Greece and Bulgaria, live streaming training and joint pilot/ simulation events in both countries and online exam/ evaluation/ recommendation sessions),
b) an established cross-border civil protection volunteers support system including a scientific committee and a roadmap on certification procedures,
c) supporting knowledge material including digital mappings, environmental/ biodiversity protection studies and safekeeping/ surveillance plans for three (3) GR and two (2) BG protected sites, cross-border environmental/ biodiversity vulnerability/ risk assessment studies and scientific publications,
d) cross-border interoperability tools including a cross-border SWOT analysis, a roadmap of joint operational procedures and a mobile tool for overcoming linguistic barriers,
e) operational ICT tools (event detection apps/ interactive GIS control center),
f) equipment including patrolling vehicles/ boats, optical drones, personal gear, field/ first aid equipment, hardware/ software and tablets,
g) sustainability material including a feasibility study, a roadmap on future steps, a transferability/ replicability report and established certification procedures,
h) the communication plan/ means,
i)  the establishment of a cross-border network.

Distinctions:
Multimedia

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