The Juniper Forests captured the interest of the “students” of the two summer schools, implemented this summer in Prespa

 Two summer schools were held this summer in Prespa on the “Management of silvo-pastoral ecosystems”. The activities were organized by the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) with the support of the Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre (EKBY), the Management Body of the Prespa National Park in Greece and the participating experts.


Both schools focused on the management of the priority habitat type 9562 *Grecian Juniper Woods in Prespa. The main objective of the summer schools was to familiarise the participants with agroforestry practices and particularly with the planning and implementation of conservation measures that can be applied in silvo-pastoral ecosystems through the implementation of the European legislation for habitats (Directive 92/43/EEU). A mix of lectures, practical exercises and on-field visits were used to provide to the participants integrated knowledge on the institutional, scientific and socio-economic aspects of the management of silvo-pastoral systems. 

Τhe field visits in the Juniper Forests, where restoration and conservation actions are being implemented the last four years through the LIFE12 NAT/GR/539-JunEx project, were of great interest. The participants had the chance to observe the implemented activities which aim to enhance the re-generation of the junipers. The measures implemented which the participants had the chance to see were the application of selective logging, the use of grazing as a conservation measure and the planting of juniper seeds and seedlings . The students took forest management in their hands, implemented necessary monitoring activities and evaluated the overall status of the Juniper Forests.

The first summer school was held in the end of June with 18 participants, professional foresters and students from the Faculties of Forestry from Greece. For the second summer school 15 participants were selected from related departments of universities from Greece, Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  The members of PrespaNet, MES and PPNEA participated in the organization of the transboundary summer school as well.  As the Juniper Forests extend also in the other two countries of the transboundary Prespa Park, it was considered important the restoration and conservation actions implemented in the

Greek part to be used as a model that could be implemented in the entire region. The most important lesson-learned from both summer schools was that the cooperation of the various stakeholders is the most vital factor for the protection of important habitats through the implementation of measures that combine agroforestry and in particular grazing.

Irene Koutseri collaborator of SPP and Project Manager of the LIFE+ JunEx project told us: “The most important output of the Summer School was the fact that it consisted of an excellent platform for extended dialogue and the exchange of views on very important issues. Τhe incorporation of similar practices in the conservation practices implemented by forestry services and local authorities on a transboundary level and in other Protected Areas was discussed, whilst contemplating the integration of the institutional and socio-economic framework”.

For more information you can contact Marianna Vlassi, tel: 0030-23850-5121

Νotes for the writers:

1)      The summer schools were implemented under the European Programme  LIFE+  Nature  (2013-2017):  “Restoration  and  Conservation of priority habitat type 9562 *Greek Juniper Forests (Juniperetum  excelsae)  in  Prespa  National  Park”  -  LIFE12  NAT/GR/539.  The project is 75% co-financed by the European Union Life Financial Instrument.

2)      The PrespaNet, is a coalition of three environmental NGOs - the Macedonian  Ecological  Society  (MES),  the  Association  for  the  Protection  and  Preservation  of  Natural  Environment  in  Albania  (PPNEA), and the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP). The mission  of  the  PrespaNet  is  to  safeguard the unique natural and cultural  heritage  of  the  Prespa  region, and at the same time to promote  the  sustainable  socioeconomic development.