Establishment of a Plant Micro-reserve Netwrok in Cyprus for the Conservation of Priority Species and Habitats

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A) Preparatory actions, elaboration of management plans and/or of action plans

The project > Actions

A1: Inventory of the localities of the targeted species/habitats and determination of the boundaries of the micro-reserves

The first preparatory action focus on carrying out an inventory of the localities of the targeted species/habitats, which will include:

1. Gathering historical information (in addition to literature sources, which have already been evaluated for the purpose of the project application) by: a) consulting all published sources and herbaria; b) consulting with local authorities, local people and local libraries; c) communicating with experts who have visited the populations and locations of the species in former years.

2. Locating all known populations of the target species and searching for new locations within the respective Sites.

3. Assessing the population size and density. Plant individuals of the target species, at each location, will be counted and the population size will be estimated. All the populations will be mapped using GPS devices and GIS software (i.e. ARCVIEW / ARCGIS). Satellite images will be used to create the maps.

Based on the information gathered through the inventory and especially from fieldwork, the exact boundaries of the micro-reserves will be determined.

Expected results:

A database will be created, which will include:
- Literature on the targeted areas/species.
- Baseline data on the locations and size of populations of the target species.
- Information gathered by personal contacts, local authorities and experts on the flora of Cyprus.
The database has been prepared and will be continually updated with new data

The exact boundaries of the micro-reserves will be mapped out at 1:5000 scale colour maps, both in electronic and printed format (one map per micro-reserve). The maps will be prepared by May 2010. Small modifications on the boundaries of the micro-reserves might be done on a later stage. The modifications will be decided according to the field data that will be gathered during the flowering season of each targeted plant. These data will give a more accurate picture of the population distribution of the targeted species.

A2: Detailed mapping of the plant micro-reserves

The currently available maps provide very low resolution for small areas like an average plant micro-reserve (5 ha). It is therefore essential to obtain a detail mapping of the areas at much higher resolution (1:500). The following elements will be precisely mapped out for each micro-reserve:
- The exact population distribution of the targeted species.
- Other important species occurring in the area.
- The habitat types of the micro-reserves.
- Other site data, such as slope, aspect and soil type.

The precise mapping of the aforementioned elements will be carried out during fieldwork using GPS devices and the collected data will be elaborated using GIS software (i.e. ARCVIEW/ARCGIS). For representative (permanent) plots, photographs will be taken for documentation purposes. Both maps and photographs will serve to assess any changes in the environment of the species. The maps will be prepared by December 2010.

Expected results:

The action will produce five (one for each micro-reserve) high-resolution and large-scale (1:500) colour maps, both in electronic and printed format maps. The maps will precisely present the population distribution for all the priority species as well as data on other important species occurring in the micro-reserves. The maps will also include detail information on the habitat types and the landscape of the areas. Each map will be accompanied by photographs for representative plots of the respective micro-reserve.

A3: Preparation of Monitoring Plans for each PMR

This action aims at the development of technical documents containing monitoring programmes that will ensure the effectiveness of the management measures. These plans will focus on the sound monitoring of the plant micro-reserves and the species found within their boundaries, and will be based on:

- The development of diagrammatic summaries (models) correlating the attributes of the targeted species and the management measures.
- The development of specific monitoring objectives.
- The selection of the proper qualitative and quantitative variables and methods.
- The implementation of a short-term pilot monitoring plan and the analysis of the pilot-study data.
- The communication with the local authorities and the local people, which will facilitate the implementation of management measures and the achievement of management objectives.
- The site quality assessment, which will be based on the evaluation of the habitats of the targeted species, the relevant biological traits and their relation to the abiotic environment, the biotic impact, and to present human activities. Potential disturbances of the site will also be assessed.
The Monitoring Plans will be prepared by December 2010.

Expected results:

The five Monitoring Plans (one for each PMR) will be the main result of this action.

A4: Preparation of Management Plans for each Plant Micro - Reserve

This Action aims at developing complete and integrated management plans comprising of in situ and ex situ conservation measures for each priority species/habitat and the respective micro-reserves. The management plans will be based on the information gathered during the Actions described above, and especially the data about the habitat, distribution, ecology, biology, population dynamics and assessment of the threats for each priority species/habitat. The management plans will consist of two sections, the Descriptive Part and the Prescriptive Part, which are described below:

The Descriptive Part will focus on the description of the existing situation in the site (ownership, abiotic and biotic factors, management, land users, threats etc.).

The Prescriptive Part will describe the actions foreseen in the plan. This part will focus on the activities to be carried out over the next three years. The methodology and the time frame for carrying out these activities in order to meet the specific objectives set, will be precisely defined. This part will also present the appropriate type of monitoring and the indicators for measuring the management effectiveness. Finally, it will enable periodic reviews of the management plan, according to the measurement of management success.

Great effort will be made to involve local people in the development management plans. The Management Plans will be officially validated by the Stakeholders Board of the project, in which all the competent authorities of Cyprus and the local authorities will be represented.

The five Management Plans (one for each micro-reserve) will be prepared by December 2010.

Expected results:

This Action will result in the development of five Management Plans, one for each micro-reserve. The Management Plans will include specific management objectives for each micro-reserve, focusing on measurable standards, desired state, threshold value and the favourable status that we are striving to achieve for each particular population. Based on the concept of adaptive management, the Management Plans will be monitored and possibly revised if the objectives are not met.

A5: Assessment of the genetic diversity and population structure for each of the 5 targeted priority species and Cedrus brevifolia

The main goal of this Action is to assess the genetic diversity and population structure for each of the targeted priority species and
Cedrus brevifolia, which forms the habitat type "*Cedrus brevifolia forests".

It is evident that molecular markers can facilitate the comprehensive management and/or reinforcement of threatened populations, and should be combined with other classical (e.g. demographic) approaches. In addition, genetic variability is often correlated with individual fitness (size, reproductive success, survival) and population persistence. Thus, it is important for management strategies to take into account genetic factors. However, many other factors might interact with the success of a management and/or reinforcement programme. Therefore, ecological factors and species biology should be considered in combination with genetic factors for a successful management and/or reintroduction programme. The proposed project is taking an integrated approach by combining ecology with biology and genetics to develop a successful management and conservation plan for the targeted priority plant species.

This action will be concluded by September 2011.

Expected results:

Based on the assessment of the genetic diversity and population structure of the targeted species, a report on the necessity and feasibility of reinforcement of existing populations will be prepared. The report will include suggestions for the enrichment of already present populations.

A6: Learning from the experiences of other EU countries that adopted the PMR approach

Three scientists (one from the ES, one from the FD and one from FU-NCU) will visit other similar PMR networks to get familiarised and trained on the activities that have been developed there over the last years through LIFE projects. The duration of the visits will be three days. Some of the issues that the Cypriot scientists will be informed and trained on include: what is the legal status of the PMRs in other EU countries that adopted the PMR approach, which are the advantages and disadvantages of the legal model adopted in each case, how to plan and propose the PMRs boundaries, GIS planning, landmarking, in situ actions, plant production to restore PMRs or enhance populations of endangered species living in the PMR, etc.

This action will take place in the initial stages of the project and will be completed by March 2011.

Expected results:

One scientist from the ES, one from FU-NCU and one from the FD will be informed and trained on several aspects of the PMR approach, as it was adopted in other European countries. The knowledge and experiences that the scientists will gain, will be transferred to their organisations and will be utilised towards the successful implementation of the project. Moreover, networking between projects/countries that adopted the PMR approach will be facilitated, thus contributing to the better exchange of knowledge and experiences gained from similar LIFE projects.

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