A few months ago, the area of Panagopoula tunnels crossed by the Motorway became part of the NATURA 2000 sites network since it hosts six (6) rare species of bats, three out of which have established important populations there.
The bat colonies are established in some drainage tunnels (galleries) constructed to prevent soil erosion which end along the old alignment of the road.
Two years ago, Olympia Odos in its capacity as end user, supported the rationale and the actions of a proposed EU LIFE-Nature project which, among others, included measures for the conservation of bat colonies also in the drainage tunnels constructed within the boundaries of the Concession Project. The proposal was approved and the LIFE-Nature project “Greek Caves and Bats: Management Actions and Change of Attitude” abbreviated as LIFE GRECABAT [LIFE17 NAT/GR/000522] was launched in September 2018.
Olympia Odos is one of the few large structures and the only motorway in Greece where wildlife species find refuge in a man-made structure. From now on, any man-made intervention in the area shall be implemented with great attention in order to protect the environment where these bats dwell.
Joint visit to the drainage tunnels
Recently, the teams of the LIFE GRECABAT project and the Helmos-Vouraikos Management Body made a joint information visit together with officials of Olympia Odos to the drainage tunnels of Panagopoula, within the framework of the LIFE GRECABAT project preparatory actions.
The visitors had the opportunity to discreetly observe the colonies of these threatened mammals and to discuss with the LIFE-GRECABAT team about how to plan the protection of the area, highlight the importance of this area for the bats and ensure the conservation of nature.
The Network - the Project - the Body
- The ecologic European NATURA 2000 sites Network is a network of protected areas (the largest in the world) stretching over the entire European Union and aiming at ensuring the long-term conservation of the most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It stretches over 18% of the EU’s land area and almost 9.5% of its marine territory.
- The LIFE-Nature project “Greek Caves and Bats: Management Actions and Change of Attitude” [LIFE17 NAT/GR/000522] conducts demonstration conservation actions for 10 protected bat species, their important refuges and cave habitats in 10 selected sites of the Natura 2000 Network from Evros to Crete (https://www.lifegrecabat.eu/el). The Project partners are: (1) the Natural History Museum of Crete, University of Crete (Coordinator); (2) the Hellenic Institute of Speleological Research (HISR); (3) ATEPE Ecosystem Management LTD; (4) the Ministry for the Environment and Energy and (5) the Green Fund.
- The Helmos-Vouraikos Management Body, having its headquarters at Kalavryta, Achaia, is a Legal Entity under Private Law and a body established in 1999, the jurisdiction of which was recently enlarged pursuant to Law 4519/2018 to include also the area of Panagopoula.