The year 2020 marks a milestone for the management of Protected Areas (PAs) in Greece with the publication of Law 4685/2020 (Government Gazette A92/7.5.2020), whereby the National System of Governance of Protected Areas is defined and the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (N.E.C.C.A.) is established.
The management system reflected in the new law essentially reinforces the cooperation of all competent authorities and organizations, as well as the coordination of all Management Bodies under the umbrella of N.E.C.C.A.
With the aim of implementing a modernized and contemporary system of governance for Protected Areas (PAs), the Ministry of Environment and Energy deemed it necessary to unify planning under one combined scientific, consulting and coordinating body for the effective organization of governance and management of these areas.
Until recently, the management of PAs in Greece was carried out by the competent Department of Natural Environment and Biodiversity Management of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEEN) and by the Management Bodies of Protected Areas (MBPA), which are private law legal entities supervised by the MEEN. Throughout its 20 years of operation, this governance system encountered various difficulties, (involving coordination, absorption of EU funds, production of scientific information), and ultimately suffered from a lack of uniformity and absence of a common approach towards PA and species management.
N.E.C.C.A aims to implement the policy formulated by the MEEN for the management of protected areas.
The pre-existing 36 MBPAs, -which encompass all Greek areas of EU and international interest for the protection of habitats and species-, are integrated into N.E.C.C.A. as 24 Protected Area Management Units (PAMUs) operating at a department level. Along with the Decentralized Administrations, Regions and Municipalities, they will now comprise the PA Management System at the regional level.
As a central level authority of the National System of Governance of PAs, N.E.C.C.A is charged with coordinating a series of actions, projects and procedures regarding: the implementation of national policies set by the MEEN for the management of PAs in Greece, biodiversity conservation, promotion and implementation of sustainable development actions and climate change mitigation. N.E.C.C.A is also called upon to prepare an implementation program of PA management plans which are approved by the MEEN.