A crucial step has recently been taken in Greece toward safeguarding threatened species like vultures against illegal poisoned baits! After years of efforts, the new Joint Ministerial Decision (JMD) regarding the problem of wildlife poisoning has been issued thanks to our Greek BalkanDetox LIFE partners at the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) and other institutions. This JMD outlines the necessary procedures local authorities need to follow when investigating illegal wildlife poisoning cases, which include recording incidents on databases and conducting necropsies on carcasses, among other actions.
Involving the relevant ministries
Although a Ministerial Decision had already been issued in 2018 by the Ministry of Environment to regulate the problem of illegal wildlife poisoning, HOS, together with six other NGOs and institutions that form the anti-poison Task Force, believed that the legal involvement of other relevant ministries was absolutely necessary to ensure the effective management and mitigation of the illegal use of poison baits and thus pressed the relevant ministries in this direction.
Protocols shaped by best-practice experience in Europe
A draft of a JMD between the Ministries of Environment and Energy (MEEN) and Rural Development and Food (MRDF) was finally produced and sent to HOS for comments on December 2021. Numerous comments and suggestions were provided, including the operational protocols used by the authorities of Andalusia in Spain (Junta de Andalucía) that had been modified and adapted to the Greek legal framework and conditions within the framework of the BalkanDetox LIFE project (LIFE19 GIE/NL/001016), led by HOS in Greece.
JMD finally approved!
The JMD was eventually approved on 22 August 2022, having adopted many of the suggestions provided by the Task Force such as the operational protocols and the signature of two more ministries: the Ministry of Citizen Protection and the Ministry of Interior. The JMD details the scheme of jurisdiction and the responsibilities of each authority in case of an incident of poison bait, as well as prevention actions that must be implemented in order to decrease this illegal practice in Greece.
Although much work remains to be done to effectively combat the use of poison baits on wildlife, the anti-poison Task Force sees this JMD as a step in the right direction since it sets the legal framework necessary for the relevant authorities to take direct action.
The BalkanDetox LIFE project
The ‘BalkanDetox LIFE‘ project aims to strengthen national capacities to fight wildlife poisoning and raise awareness about the problem in Balkan countries. It is a five-year endeavour with a €1.8 million budget, which aims to raise awareness and strengthen national capacities to fight the problem of wildlife poisoning across Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia. It received funding from the EU’s LIFE Programme, and it is co-financed by the Vulture Conservation Foundation, the MAVA Foundation and Euronatur, as well as by the Green Fund, Whitley Fund for Nature and Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund for specific actions. Project partners are the Vulture Conservation Foundation as the coordinating beneficiary, and the Albanian Ornithological Society, Association BIOM, Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia, Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Macedonian Ecological Society, Ornitološko društvo NAŠE Ptice and the Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania as associated beneficiaries. Furthermore, this project is based on Spanish best practice experience and counts with the support from the Junta de Andalucía and the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.