Ambassador profile


  Name: Konstantinos Alexandros Mentzelopoulos
  Function: Director, Tilos Park Association
  Country: Greece
  E-mail: tilospark(at)yahoo(dot)com
  Tel: +30 22460 70880

Organisation profile


  Organisation: Tilos Park Association (TPA)
  E-mail: tilospark(at)yahoo(dot)com
  Tel: +30 22460 70880
  Established: July 26, 2004
  Category: NGO
  Number of staff: 5
Site profile
  Site name: Tilos Island and Islets of Antitilos, Pelekousa, Gaidouronisi, Giakoumi, Agios Andreas, Prasouda and Nisi (Tilos)  
  Location: Dodecanese Island Chain, southeastern Aegean  
  Land area: 6,500 ha  
  Nearest urban settlement: Rhodes  
  Natura 2000 ID: SPA No.: GR-4210024  
  Annual visitor count: 25,000  
  Majority of visitors from: UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Italy  
  Site description:

Tilos is a 63 sq km island of international importance for 155 wild bird species, 38 of which are legally protected and listed in Annex I of 79/409/EEC, including 14 breeding pairs of resident raptors [6 pairs of Bonelli’s Eagles and 8 pairs of Long Legged Buzzards], 650 breeding pairs of Eleonora’s Falcons representing 10% of the world population of this threatened species, as well as migratory bird species that use Tilos as a stopover between Africa and Europe. Tilos is characterized by 16 uninhabited islets hosting colonies of threatened bird species, 6 semi-mountainous volumes (300 m.), the highest regional formation of coastal limestone cliffs, 16 biotopes recognized under 92/43/EEC (with 3 identified as priority biotopes for special protection), 377 native flora species (including 28 orchid species of which 8 are classified as rare), a network of fresh water underground springs, forested areas, and a marine environment that hosts endangered species such as the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus), the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Posidonia sea grasses, and more. The region is a Corine Biotopes Project region (identifying habitats of special European importance), an IBA (Important Bird Areas of Europe) since 1989, and the host to a 2005-2008 EU LIFE Nature Project to rehabilitate the population of Bonelli’s Eagles (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Eleonora Falcons (Falco eleonora) and Mediterranean Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii).


All species
  Species code Latin name Common / local name
    Falco eleonorae  
    Hieraaetus fasciatus  
    Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii  
    Hieraaetus pennatus  
    Buteo rufinus  
    Falco peregrinus  
    Falco naumanni  
    Larus audouinii  
    Coracias garrulous  
    Hippolais olivetorum  
    Merops apiaster  
    Calonectris diomedea  
    Pernis apivorus  
    Emberiza caesias  
    Circus aeruginosus  
    Monachus monachus  
    Stenella coeruleoalba  
    Caretta caretta  
    Quercus macrolepsis  
    Quercus aucheri  
    Pistachia terebinthus palaestina  
All habitats (* indicates priority habitats)
  Habitat code Common / local name
  1210 Annual vegetation in inter-tidal zone
  1240 Steep rocky coasts with Limonium sp
  2110 Unstable sand dunes
  3170* Mediterranean seasonal ponds
  5330 Tree Spurge (Euphorbia dendroides)
  5420 Phrygana with Sarcopoterium spinosum
  6220* Pseudosteppe with grasses and annuals (Thero-brachypodietea)
  6310 Pastoral sclerophyll woods with oaks (Quercus aucheri)
  8210 & 8217 Chasmophytic vegetation of rocky slopes, limestone cliffs
  92DO Thermo-Mediterranean riparian galleries (Nerio Tamariceteae)
  9320 Olea and Ceratonia woods
  9350 Open tree habitat [Quercus macrolepis] with phrygana and pseudo-steppe
Stakeholder profile        
  Stakeholder activity in the management planning process:
  Stakeholder group activity level
  hi ←          → nil
  Local Government        
  Central Government        
  Private landowners        
  Green NGOs        
  Private sector        
  Private individuals        
  Port authorities        
  Hunters. Hunting is illegal        
  Recreational groups. Hobby groups are entirely foreign visitors. None are stakeholders.        
Stakeholder success stories

Stakeholder island clean-up volunteers

Stakeholder volunteers direct and participate in island and coastal clean-up actions that consist of removing island trash, including the trash that washes up from the Aegean from passing boat traffic. Stakeholders supervise and participate with the island elementary and high school students during the clean-up operations and explain the environmental reasons for the action as well as the resulting benefits to wildlife during these excursions. The stakeholders use specific endangered Tilos island terrestrial and marine wildlife species, such as Caretta caretta (Loggerhead sea turtle), Monachus monachus (Mediterranean Monk Seal), Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii (Mediterranean Shag), and Falco eleonorae (Eleonora falcon) as examples of how specific types of trash will reduce the population of the foregoing through plastic bag and bottle abandonment, washed up bottles of liquid tar, syringes, etc. The impact of the biodiversity loss on the residents and visitors is then explained to the students in a way that they can understand, such as a loss of sea turtles through asphyxiation (when the species mistakes plastic bags for their jellyfish food) results in increased jellyfish stinging while swimming due to reduced jellyfish predators such as the sea turtle.


Stakeholder nature protection volunteers

The TPA established a stakeholder volunteer operated Avian Recovery Center (ARC) with indoor and outdoor landscaped cages (approximately 3x5 meters each) to provide shelter and care for primarily avian species rescued by island stakeholders and brought to the ARC. The ARC receives medical advice in each case from the University of Thessaloniki Veterinary School of Medicine because there is no veterinarian on the island. Resident unpaid volunteers assist in bringing required medicine and food (such as fresh fish for the herons, and recommended food for the other species) and the volunteers are instrumental in the process of hand feeding which is usually required for most of the injured species or species weakened by migration. The volunteers donate their personal resources for the food and medicine. In the first 2 years of operation, the ARC treated 27 birds, 18 feral cats and 5 Eastern European hedgehogs representing 16 avian and 2 mammal species. The foregoing has been documented in the Tilos Park Journal accessible through the Tilos Park website –


Stakeholder ornithological monitoring assistance volunteers

Stakeholders were inspired by the activities generated by the EU Tilos LIFE Nature program for the birds. As a result, stakeholders volunteer to serve as island guides to the ornithologists who visit Tilos for bird monitoring in the LIFE program, the related Hellenic Ornithological Society Eleonora falcon monitoring project and the bi-annual Tilos Bird Ringing Research Project organized by the TPA. The volunteer stakeholders participate in the Bird Ringing Research Project with an average of 12-14 birds ringed by each volunteer stakeholder participant under the direction of the ornithologists. These nature protection actions have increased the stakeholders’ awareness of their indigenous island species, the species’ breeding/feeding habits and the island habitats required to be preserved for their continued survival.

Photo credit: Konstantinos Alexandros Mentzelopoulos
Communication profile

Activities and products for the communication of Natura 2000


Action plan meetings
Green Days more info
Guided visits
Other: European Distributed Publications
- The quarterly publication of the Greek/English Tilos Park Journal is sent to more than 6.000 subscribers (including EU Commission/DG Environment, certain Members of the European Parliament and Hellenic Parliament, European journalists, tour operators, stakeholders, etc.) and is accessible on the Tilos park website ( The Journal publishes environmental news of Tilos as this news relates to the principles promoted by international institutions such as IUCN, the European Commission DG Environment, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and others.
- In addition, a list of more than 100 magazine and newspaper articles during the last 3 years alone is available in our LIFE Nature program office citing the names of the European publications (e.g. France’s La Liberation newspaper, Germany’s Freiheit fur Tiere magazine, Britain’s Royal Geographer magazine, Greece’s Kathimerini, Ta Nea, Rhodiaki, Gnomi newspapers, etc.) in which Tilos environmental conservation and ecotourism development actions have been promoted.
Other: Conferences
- At the June 11-15, 2007 Brussels EU Green Week Conference and Exhibition (“Past Lessons, Future Challenges”), the TPA hosted an Exhibition courtesy of the EU Commission that paid for the TPA hotel and transportation and provided the stand for the TPA to promote its Natura 2000 site environmental conservation actions.
- The TPA Director was an invited keynote speaker at the November 2006 UNEP sponsored Mediterranean SOS Conference (that included other speakers such as EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, Hellenic Parliament members, Hellenic Aegean Minister Aristotle Pavlides, EU CoPraNet – Coastal Practices Network, etc.) to discuss successful methods used by the TPA in developing stakeholder participation in the environmental conservation management of a Natura 2000 site.
- A September 15, 2007 conference is scheduled by the TPA to promote the success of the 2005-2008 EU LIFE Nature program for the birds.
- In May 2005, the TPA Director was a conference speaker invited by the Mugla, Turkey, Chamber of Commerce to discuss the mutual compatibility of environmental conservation management and business development (such as ecotourism) using Tilos as an example.
- In 2004, the TPA Director was invited by the city of Volos, Greece, to discuss the same issue as in the previous point.
Other: Visitor Centre Information. The TPA provides audio/visual seminars and the dissemination of wildlife/environmental information to the visitors at the Tilos Visitor Centre hosted all year by the TPA without Municipal funds or support. Visitors are shown a catalogue of island photos relating to their subjects of interest (botany, ornithology, geology, marine sciences, etc.), and the TPA staff are available to explain the island’s natural history dating back 15 million years, the island cultural monuments, wildlife species, nature protection actions, and more.
Other: Island Tours. The TPA also gives 3-4 hours island tours detailing the foregoing
Other: Tilos Park Website.
Other: Tilos Park Leaflet. A Tilos park leaflet entitled “Tilos …. A Passion for Life” identifying the nature protection actions on Tilos with a description of the island characteristics and its special designations as an EU registered Special Protection Area, Natura 2000 site, host to an EU LIFE Nature Project for the birds, a Corine Biotopes region with priority habitats of special European importance, and an IBA (Important Bird Area).
Other: Municipal School Bus Rides. Upon the TPA Director’s use of the island municipal bus (to travel to and/or from work) that was also used to transport children to and from school or school related activities, the TPA Director frequently answers questions from the children and engages them in discussions concerning the wildlife that thrives in their island. The discussions include the children identifying their favorite bird species, the beaches they enjoy swimming in and the water birds they usually see, and the TPA Director explains what parts of Europe or Africa or the Middle East in which these species typically reside, why these species thrive on Tilos, and more. The TPA Director recognized that the children were more amenable to this science discussion “in the field” than if they had been in a formal classroom where 100% attention might not be realistically expected.


  Event frequency
A few times a year


  Use of seasonal workers / volunteers


  Kind of work / volunteering opportunities
The EUROPARC Federation: Through the EUROPARC Federation sponsored volunteer internship program, 3 areas of work are offered:
  • ascertaining the sufficiency, quality and wildlife accessibility of fresh water on the island, including an analysis of the 2007 wetland for wildlife project procured by the TPA for the Tilos Municipality through EU Interreg III;
  • documenting Tilos marine species and offering recommendations for threatened species rehabilitation, including artificial reef development to rehabilitate the fish/shellfish population that once thrived;
  • continuing ornithological monitoring following the February 2008 expiration of the EU LIFE Nature program for the birds.
ELIX International Volunteers: For six weeks in the summer, international volunteers sponsored by Elix in cooperation with the TPA restore walking paths for eco-tourists and clean coastal and countryside areas.
TPA: The TPA volunteers and staff coordinate with volunteer stakeholders, including the elementary and high school students and their teachers, to clean island beaches and learn from the TPA staff the reasons for the clean-up and the expected benefits.


  Communication literature produced
Magazines / periodicals


  Communication target groups
General public
Other site managers
Local community
Site visitors
Other: Government Officials. EU DG Environment, certain EU and Hellenic Parliament members, Hellenic President Karolos Papoulias (TPA Member).
Other: Journalists: [See answer to "Events"]
Other: Tour Operators. Sailing as well as terrestrial European and Turkish tour operators.
Other: Universities. Such as the University of the Aegean, the Daphne Environmental Program of the Athens Polytechnic School, etc.
Other: European Holiday Visitor Guides. Such as Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, etc.
Other: Foreign Embassies and Ministries. Such as the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Swedish Embassy to Greece, the Swedish Consul General in Rhodes, Australian Embassy to Greece (attention Ambassador Paul Tighe who donated 11 computers to the Tilos Municipal School), etc.
Other: Environmental Organisations. The EUROPARC Federation, Euronatur (Germany), Animal Public (Germany), Hellenic Ornithological Society, Greenpeace Greece, Hellenic Organization to Save the Mediterranean Monk Seal (MOM), Mediterranean SOS, etc.


  The organisation has a dedicated communication strategy for Natura 2000


  Description of communication strategy
The communication strategy as cited from the TPA Board of Directors directives written and maintained in Greek is to promote the Tilos environmental conservation and ecotourism development actions in this Natura 2000 site in:
  • print (through TPA written articles for European magazines, newspapers; the Tilos Park Journal; the Tilos Park website and the TPA leaflet; and articles by journalists based upon information that is given to them by the TPA for their own articles),
  • video form (such as TPA television interviews from 3 Greek, 2 Spanish, 2 Belgian, Turkish and French television news stations in 2006-2007 alone; a Tilos promotional video for tour operators; and the Tilos Natura 2000 promotion in a Japanese television travel documentary program made by Tomoko Kiriyama, Director of, and aired June 23, 2007 on a Japanese television program distributed through 27 Japanese television stations to 9 million viewers),
  • audio form (such as 3 radio station interviews conducted by Greek radio station ANT 1 since November 2006)
  • in person, such as through the LIFE Nature Exhibition and Visitor Center seminars and discussions, island tours given by the TPA, European and international conferences identified in question 5a, and to island stakeholders during day to day activities.


  The communication materials are produced
At the site: By the TPA and a one time production by the LIFE Nature Project hosted by the TPA website.
Other: The material is created by the TPA and also by the European journalists who by profession are associated with a publication. The communication material is produced by and at the expense of the relevant distributor such as the TPA, or by the relevant magazine, newspaper publisher, or by the radio/tv station, or by the conference organizer.


  Site involved in joint working / networking


Site management profile
"Tilos: Management of an island SPA (Special Protection Area)"
  Key site management issues:


  • Continually developing technical support to accumulate scientific data about the site
  • Overseeing the continuing education of TPA staff and island stakeholders about the indigenous flora/fauna species and the benefits of conservation
  • Developing stakeholder support for environmental conservation actions. Without such support long-term progress would be impossible
  • Fund-raising
  • Developing and implementing nature protection actions based upon expert advice.


  Integration of Natura 2000 in overall site management:


Tilos is a 63 sq. km. island with 16 uninhabited islets and 350 permanent residents. The Natura 2000 site comprises the foregoing in its entirety. In addition, the Hellenic Environment Ministry is in the process of establishing the Tilos Natural Park with protection zones on the entire island after the TPA successfully lobbied the Ministry to issue its October 2006 approval of the Park establishment recommended by scientists in 1997. As a result, since the entire island has European and official Hellenic recognition as a protected site, the European and Member State nature protection designations provide the justification as well as the European governmental and NGO funding opportunities to implement nature protection actions throughout Tilos. The entire island is a Natura 2000 site.


  Key site management objectives:


The objectives of the Natura 2000 site management are represented by the answer to question 6a. In other words, the important management issues evolved into the long term and continuing objectives of the TPA. The stakeholders on the island are divided into 3 categories:

  • The WWII generation that suffered through poverty and a subsistence farming economy before electricity, a port (which is the ONLY means of access to the island), and modern infrastructure were constructed within the last 25 years and who relied upon natural resource consumption for survival without consideration for natural resource generation or regeneration;
  • The middle aged generation that is occupied with providing an income for the family that usually include aged parents and young to young adult children, thus representing a large number of dependents in each family;
  • The young generation that has benefited from the last 25 years of EU funding thus enabling this generation to experience electricity, roads, modern water supply, a nascent tourism economy, and a port. Young people grew up with tv, mobile phones and the internet bringing more information about European lifestyle and education to this remote island. The young generation is the stakeholder group (aged 20-35) that has been targeted for volunteer assistance and working with school students on volunteer actions.

This permits an educational process to be instituted in the field. These young volunteers have already influenced their families in their attitudes towards nature, especially as nature preservation improves their tourist clientele’s positive island experience. The middle aged stakeholders have been targeted by the TPA to explain to them how nature conservation and enhanced natural environment related recreational activities (bird-watching, snorkeling, walking/hiking path excursions, etc.) promoted by the TPA will enhance the pleasure of their guests and strengthen business. This strategy has been effective because the tourists have communicated to the islanders what they come to see and do, as urged by the TPA. As the financial benefits have been associated with TPA promoted activities, the islanders have taken to heart that their income is reliant upon satisfied and returning eco-tourists. The older generation has not been convinced. An example is the elderly who have told us of recipes they had for Eleonora Falcon during the WWII/Greek civil war/post WWII years. When one endeavors to explain the aims and actions of the TPA or the LIFE Nature Project to the elderly (which aims/actions in effect discredit or are in conflict with their former lifestyle methods), there is either no response or a critical response questioning the need for these actions.

The initial context of the development of the entire island of Tilos as a Special Protection Area, Natura 2000 site and Tilos Natural Park currently being established by the Hellenic Environment Ministry was the recognition by the Tilos Municipality in the 1990’s that (i) the island has a rich variety of wildlife (especially avian) species due to the island’s relative isolation in a European periphery location and absence of human construction development and (ii) ecotourism is the obvious future of the island economy in the absence of any significant cultural monuments (such as the Parthenon) to otherwise attract visitors. The Municipality commissioned an environmental study completed in 1997 that was used as the basis for an application to become a registered Special Protection Area (Tilos had previously been identified as an IBA and as a Corine Biotopes Region with priority habitats of special European importance). This scientific documentation along with the islander support to become an ecotourism destination facilitated the establishment of the Tilos Park Association founded in 2004 to independently develop nature protection activities, ecotourism development and become designated as the Managing Authority for the Tilos Natural Park. In 2004, the TPA Founder initiated actions in furtherance of the Hellenic scientific recommendations proposed 7 years earlier as a result of the absence of any action by the Municipality citing lack of know-how.


  Stakeholders targeted as part of management action:


The Municipality commissioned an environmental study eleven years ago to determine the existing wildlife and make recommendations. Nothing further was done with the study. The TPA Founder/Director saw the study collecting dust at City Hall, asked what was being done, the Mayor replied “Nothing” and the TPA Founder/Director asked permission to conduct efforts to advance the implementation of the study recommendations i.e. establish the Natural Park. The Mayor agreed and added that there would be no payment of funds for any such effort. The TPA Founder then established the TPA and began philanthropic work in furtherance of the Park establishment and nature protection activities. From July 26, 2004, the NGO establishment date, through April 2007, the TPA was managed by 2 unpaid volunteers (the TPA Founder and Co-Founder) despite several face to face threats of death and physical violence by a small minority of residents against the TPA Founder during the first 2,5 years. Despite the foregoing, each of the management objectives was gradually implemented by the Founder and Co-Founder with part time unpaid assistance from 2 stakeholder volunteers (one of whom is a family member of a former nature protection opponent). At the end of the first 3 years, EUROPARC Federation provided valuable support for a fourth year, 2008, internship program on the island. During the fourth year, Euronatur committed to assist the island in methods to be determined and finalized in 2007/2008.


  Description of work carried out / methods and methodology:


  • LIFE NATURE PROJECT: In 2003, the Municipality had applied for and was rejected in its application for an EU LIFE Nature program for the birds on Tilos. In 2004, the TPA Director prepared a new application with Yannis Rigas at OIKOS Ltd. (pronounced “Ecos”) in Athens which was approved by the Commission. The TPA requested and was approved to become a full partner and co-financier in the 2005-2008 LIFE Project. This work by the TPA Director was provided on a philanthropic basis.
  • LEGAL AND SCIENTIFIC LOBBYING: In 2005, the TPA prepared and delivered a 37 page legal, scientific and socio-economic thesis entitled “Protection of Tilos” which was distributed to Hellenic Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Ministers of the Aegean, Agriculture, Environment, Foreign Relations and Tourism to advocate the establishment of a Tilos Natural Park, protection zones and permanent island hunting ban recommended by Hellenic scientists in 1997. This thesis was based upon the application of EU Directives 79/409/EEC and 92/43/EEC and European Court of Justice cases to Tilos supported by scientific documentation of threatened wildlife species on the island, the stakeholders’ desire to develop eco-tourism, and the socio-economic need for nature protection to sustain the island ecotourism economy in this EU remote periphery island location to prevent desertification of the countryside. In each subsequent year (2006 and 2007), continuing legal research and increasing scientific data were incorporated in governmental letters and communications primarily targeting the Environment Ministry (with which the TPA was developing increasingly cooperative professional relations) and additionally targeting regional government officials advocating the establishment of the Tilos Natural Park/protection zones/island hunting ban. The practical application of the new EU Environmental Damage Liability Directive, (2004/35/EC effective 30/04/07) to Tilos, was incorporated in these continuing communications along with computer generated ornithological breeding/feeding territorial maps of island Annex I (Birds’ Directive) birds showing an overlap and 100% island coverage in support of the establishment of the Natural Park which is scheduled to cover the entire island. This legal/scientific thesis and the written (advocacy) communications were provided by the TPA Founder/Co-Founder on a philanthropic basis.
  • TILOS PARK JOURNAL: The Journal is prepared and distributed to communicate island environmental news to raise the stakeholder awareness of their island resources, the scientific value that these resources have to Europe as evidenced by the reports of European technical support that is brought to the island by the TPA and to commend good behavior such as stakeholder wildlife rescues, stakeholder participation in a solution to island bird drownings in water cisterns, stakeholder volunteer island clean-up actions, etc. The additional purposes of the Journal publication have been previously mentioned in this case study.
  • AVIAN RECOVERY CENTER: This activity was described previously. One important expected and achieved result (aside from the primary aim of caring for injured birds) was that the personal interest of stakeholders was raised as they bonded with the rescued wildlife. This proved to be an engaging activity for young generation islanders to learn about their island’s indigenous species, including the island Annex I birds, characteristics, habitats, need for conservation, etc.
  • LIFE NATURE [permanent] EXHIBITION/VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE/ISLAND TOURS: The TPA stakeholder staff learn about visitor relations, island wildlife, natural history, etc. by training and then participating in these activities previously described in greater detail.
  • FUND RAISING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: The TPA lobbied environmental organizations for technical assistance based upon written communications describing the island’s natural resources, the stakeholder and TPA aims, the need for technical assistance, the expected benefits of nature protection/ecotourism development assistance and the TPA resources that are available to assist in accomplishing the recommended actions. Through networking at conferences, the TPA has also been given support by individual scientists who visit Tilos at their expense to devote part of their holiday visit to assisting the TPA in documenting island scientific data consistent with their own professional area of expertise. (Examples: geology, botany, climate change and marine sciences).
  • STAKEHOLDER AND INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER ASSISTANCE: The stakeholder and international volunteers participate in island clean-up actions, the restoration of 67 km of walking paths, restoring/cleaning the island’s St. Panteleimon Monastery and other environmental conservation activities.
  • TPA INVITES NON-RESIDENT ACADEMIC BIOLOGY/ECOLOGY FIELD STUDIES ON TILOS: The TPA contacted non-resident schools to invite them to visit Tilos to conduct the aforementioned studies for academic credit. This program was initiated with the Athens International Campion School for bi-annual academic visits (as reported in the Tilos Park Journal). Stakeholder volunteers accompany/guide the biology teacher and students to island areas consistent with the academic agenda.
  • TPA PROMOTES ORGANIC FARMING: Certain stakeholders interested in converting to an organic system have consulted with the TPA. The TPA offers assistance to stakeholders in directing their attention to EU regulations governing the subject, marketing and promotion assistance to sell their products, etc.
  • TPA PROMOTES RENEWABLE ENERGY AND GREEN ACTIONS: The TPA invited a BP renewable energy/green expert to the island and conducted numerous meetings. The result is that the BP expert is conducting an analysis of island characteristics against a backdrop of industry technology to determine the cost and feasibility of: providing renewable energy to the hotel industry (especially to those owners scheduled to construct hotel expansions in the next 2 years), developing a central island renewable energy facility, replacing plastic shopping bags with cloth and distributing one bag to each household, and introducing electric vehicles on the island for visitor transportation.
  • PARTICIPATING IN EU GREEN WEEK: The TPA annually participates in and promotes EU Green Week with island clean-up actions. In 2007, the TPA applied to the Commission as a candidate to be selected by the Commission as a Brussels EU Green Week Exhibitor, the hotel accommodations and transportation of which were paid by the Commission. The TPA was selected and, according to Ms. Kontou, at the EU Commission, DG Environment, the TPA was the only Greek Exhibitor at the June 11-15, 2007 Conference and Exhibition (“Past Lessons, Future Challenges”). The TPA promoted the island’s LIFE Nature Project for the Birds and the TPA’s aims, actions and achievements in this Natura 2000 site.
  • MARINE SPECIES CONSERVATION: The TPA has begun discussing with certain affected stakeholders the current marine species environment, the fishermen’s complaints about fewer fish available in local waters, and the eco-tourist interests in snorkeling, swimming and glass bottom boat tours. The result is that the TPA is currently mapping the location of island marine species according to expert volunteer assistance. The aim is to develop from expert assistance feasible recommendations to rehabilitate the shellfish/fish populations, such as the introduction of artificial reefs at one end of certain island bays while precluding fishing there but allowing island fishing in non-artificial reef areas sufficient in size so as to not adversely affect the islanders’ customary fishing habits.
  • BIRD RINGING RESEARCH: The TPA hosts bi-annual bird ringing research by providing accommodations, equipment and site locations for the ringing project. The TPA also provides stakeholder volunteers who participate in the bird ringing with an average of 12-14 ringings per volunteer. This also promotes awareness of the island avian species, including threatened species, the purpose of the European research and the breeding/feeding habits of the ringed birds on the part of the stakeholders.
  • REGULAR ISLAND SURVEILLANCE: The TPA conducts regular island surveillance by stakeholder staff members to identify any illegal activities adversely affecting the environment, storm damage, rock/hill subsidence due to wild goat activities


  Results of action and activities:


The results are as follows:

  • The original group of island stakeholder opponents to the Tilos Natural Park establishment, chaired by City Councilman Grigoris Giannourakis, signed a document on June 18, 2007 in the presence of the Dodecanese Governor’s Council declaring their support for the establishment of the Tilos Natural Park/protection zones/permanent hunting ban in a complete reversal of previous anti-environmental protection convictions. The TPA Director had spent the previous 3 years building a cooperative relationship with Park opponents, gaining professional trust and repeatedly explaining the exact Park provisions and merits to which Park opponents had no substantive objections (although their previous objections were misstatements of fact and politically motivated as an opposition party to the 14 year governing Municipal party).
  • The TPA stakeholder employees and volunteers gained an awareness of their island environment and a desire to continue their professional participation in the TPA by becoming elected to the NGO Board of Directors and expressing a commitment to continue their employment at the TPA. Other stakeholder participation developed, as evidenced by a hotel owner who donated the use of his private land for the bird ringing projects, provided his hotel accommodations free of charge on occasion to the scientific/technical assistance people who visited the TPA, and provided transportation services for island tours conducted by the TPA for the visiting Japanese travel film maker filming Tilos for a television program.
  • The TPA gained the professional respect and continuing cooperation from the Hellenic Agriculture and Environment Ministries, including their representative government officials seen from time to time at conferences, etc.
  • The TPA contributes to the island ecotourism economy that is evident to the stakeholders by its development of island tours, resulting in the visitors requiring restaurants, hotel accommodations, gifts, etc.
  • The island stakeholders are more accepting and less suspicious of nature protection actions, such as the successful TPA application for the 2007 wetland for wildlife development project funded by EU Interreg III which received a surprising 100% City Council approval. This application and initial project development work was provided on a philanthropic basis to the island Municipality.
  • The island garbage is substantially reduced due to the stakeholder and international volunteers (the latter of whom challenge/educate/inspire the former and change the stakeholder concept of what is “normal” – i.e. abandoned garbage should not be considered status quo “normal”.

The stakeholders have a greater acceptance of nature protection activities and have already approved the establishment of the Tilos Natural Park/ protection zones/permanent island hunting ban; the TPA received United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) recognition in the selection of the TPA as a keynote speaker at the 2006 Mediterranean SOS conference in Athens for the NGO’s exemplary achievement in engaging active participation by stakeholders in ecotourism and nature protection actions; the TPA was recognized and approved by the European Commission as a Co-Financier and Co-Partner in the € 825.000 EU Tilos LIFE Nature Project for the birds; the TPA delivered to the Municipality an approved €373.000 wetland for wildlife development project for 2007 construction; the TPA is receiving project financial and technical support from Euronatur (Germany) for ecotourism and nature protection development; the TPA is receiving project financial and technical support from EUROPARC Federation for nature protection actions, such as the designation of Tilos as one of only 12 European locations for a 2008 summer internship program for scientific studies; the TPA cooperates with Elix, an international volunteer organization based in Athens for island clean-up and walking path/natural habitat restoration from human/animal/storm disturbance; the TPA operates island tours and audio-visual seminars on the biodiversity, nature protection and cultural history of Tilos; the TPA has created a new office library of island scientific data in the fields of ornithology, botany, geology, reptiles/amphibians, marine species from donations of island scientific data by professionals who documented this indigenous island species data with photos while on Tilos; the TPA created employment and a continuing education program for stakeholders; the TPA operates daily the Tilos Visitor Information Centre and EU LIFE Nature permanent Exhibition without Municipal support; the TPA developed and continually updates a website and conducts an island marketing campaign; the TPA collaborates with a BP renewable energy expert for the development of increased renewable energy sources for the hotel industry and a renewable energy facility for the entire island; the TPA is host to non-resident student academic biology/ecology field studies for academic credit, such as with the Athens Campion School; the TPA publishes the quarterly environmental news Tilos Park Journal with more than 6.0000 subscribers, including EU Commission DG Environment, EU and Hellenic Parliament members, European journalists (Le Monde, Freiheit fur Tiere, Kathimerini, etc.), tour operators, university professors, industry executives (such as the Membership Director of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris), stakeholders, visitors, etc.; the TPA has introduced bi-annual bird ringing research operations to the island in cooperation with the Hellenic Bird Ringing Centre with the TPA contributing equipment, accommodations, island guides and volunteers for the ornithologists; the TPA is developing prototype development actions for marine species to rehabilitate the shellfish/fish populations, such as artificial reef placement; the TPA undertakes regular island surveillance for prevention of illegal activities harmful to the environment and wildlife; the TPA participates in annual EU Green Week with island volunteer coastal clean-up actions and the TPA was selected to be one of the few Brussels EU Green Week Exhibitors whose hotel accommodations and transportation were paid by the Commission based upon an application by the TPA in 2007; the TPA has received membership support from more than one third of the island residents. The TPA has also earned recognition and developed good public relations with government officials, such as the Ministries of Agriculture, Development, Environment, the Dodecanese Governor and Governor’s Council all of whom have approved the Tilos Natural Park establishment by Presidential Decree without reservations or changes to the provisions after 3 years of intense lobbying efforts by the TPA. We believe this augurs well for the future of this Special Protection Area.


  Indication of budget allocation for these tasks:


PHASE I, YEAR 1: In view of the initial lack of funds and corresponding absence of professional reputation and credits attributable to a newly established NGO, the TPA conducted its initial activities primarily with the personal resources of the Founder and Co-Founder during the first year without an established budget except the reasonable knowledge of office expenses.

PHASE II, YEARS 2 and 3: Funds were raised by TPA membership dues, island tours, donations and EU/Hellenic government programs. Funds are devoted in two ways: (1) operating the day to day office related activities of the NGO and (2) funding nature protection projects. Regarding the first, the annual budget to operate the office (consumables, postal requirements, electricity, telephone, transportation and miscellaneous expenses) is €10.000. Regarding the second, a detailed budget is prepared for each proposed nature protection action which varies according to the needs of the project.

Each proposed action is individually analyzed to ascertain if the labor and funds are available before proceeding. Many actions have been accomplished predominantly by personal labor/expertise and to a lesser extent material resource donations, such as (i) the Avian Recovery Center with donated outdoor bird cage materials and interior landscape plants inside the cages grown from seeds/cuttings (lavender, bay tree, rosemary, thyme, berry vines, and marjoram); (ii) the successful applications for the EU approved LIFE Nature and wetland development project funding applications which were labor/expertise intensive rather than materials intensive; (iii) the success of the Founder and Co-Founder in lobbying the Hellenic government for a Natural Park/protection zones/hunting ban approval in 2006 because legal/management consulting expertise in government communication were provided philanthropically by the Founder/Co-Founder, (iv) the quarterly Tilos Park Journal researched, prepared and published electronically and in paper format by the Founder/Co-Founder requiring only office consumables and labor, to name a few examples.

In order to fully understand this case study and the methods used to protect this Natura 2000 site, it is important to understand that Tilos is not an urban or European continental environment. Tilos is a 63 sq km island accessible only by boat which sometimes does not service the island for a month in winter due to bad weather, has no street names or addresses because there are only about 60 households which the postman knows, and has only had unreliable electricity and a reasonably serviceable infrastructure in the last 25-30 years. There is one island doctor who is also the Mayor, no hospital, and people who need supplemental services or goods other than food (ophthalmology, dental, veterinary services; clothes, shoes, hardware supplies, etc.) must go to another island when there is an available boat. As a result, self-sufficiency and innovation in the absence of resources or professional customs associated with a European urban environment have been indispensable in developing environmental conservation actions in this Natura 2000 site.


Financial overview
  Organisational budget for nature conservation (annual):


See "Site management profile: Indication of budget allocation for these tasks"


  Budget reserved for communication:


See "Site management profile: Indication of budget allocation for these tasks"


  European funding:


Yes: LIFE Nature


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Tilos Natural Park: GR