Home Newsletter 2010 Economic support to farmers for wildlife conservation

By Spyros Psaroudas


Agrienvironment measures concerning bear damages


In the new Greek Rural Development Programme for the period 2007-2013 some actions concerning wildlife and especially brown bear conservation needs, have been included: “Promotion of agricultural practices for wildlife protection” (Measure 214), Electric fence purchase and installationand Livestock guarding dogs purchase” (Measure 216, Actions 1.1 and 1.2 respectively).


The dissemination of the use of preventive measures for damage caused by bears on livestock raising and farming activities shall contribute to the reduction of human-caused mortality of bears. The Action “Electric fence purchase and installation” can be implemented only in areas with bear presence. This action hasn’t been designed for small cultivations but only for organized-systematic apiculture and livestock. The Action “Livestock guarding dog purchase” is described in the Agriculture Development Program as “the best way for the prevention of damages caused by wildlife (bears, wolves, etc) in livestock and therefore, in the reduction of human caused mortality of these animals”.


Regarding the latter measure, it must be remarked that currently there is no certified body for the authentication of the “ellinikos poimenikos” dog breed. Because of that the action’s implementation is questioned, even by the competent authority responsible for its implementation.


Unfortunately, last year the Steering Committee of the Greek Rural Development Programme recommended the abolishment of the aforementioned “accompanying actions for wildlife protection”. According to the relevant modification request, sent to the European Commission last summer (2010), these actions “pose weaknesses in their implementation” and they “premise complex supportive mechanisms….and because of that their implementation is considered ineffective”.


However, as described above, these actions have a considerable environmental and social value. Environmental NGOs in Greece, including CALLISTO, have expressed their disappointment and disagreement to the modification request.



Agriculture insurance and compensation measures for producers


Even though it is common belief that prevention is the best solution for reducing wildlife damage on agricultural facilities, it is also true that preventive techniques cannot totally eliminate this phenomenon. Thus, it is very important that preventive measures are combined with a well-working compensation system. In Greece, the main agricultural compensation body is the Organization of Agricultural Insurance (ELGA). Among the “insurance risks” that are covered by ELGA the damages caused by bears are included.


During the last years, systematic interventions by environmental NGOs have led to important improvements in the insurance regulations for livestock in favor of wildlife species. Moreover, since September 1996, upon recommendations by NGOs, ELGA covers damages caused by bears on crops, fruit trees, etc. The last Insurance Regulation improvement for livestock resulted in September 2008, satisfying a very old demand of Environmental NGOs: livestock raisers are now compensated (after ELGA valuator visit and under certain conditions), after the loss of even one sheep or goat, provided that the total losses in one year are minimum 4 (before this, a minimum of 4 animals had to be killed during the same incident in order to make the damage eligible for compensation).


However, due to the economic recession in Greece, ELGA is re-examining the latter measure, because of the high cost of the damage investigation process. Again, Greek environmental NGOs including CALLISTO, the Greek partner of the LIFE EX-TRA project, have been activated to deter this negative development.