GEOCONSERVATION LEGAL STATUS AND GEOPARK ESTABLISHMENT IN GREECE
Under Greek (and EU) law, geo-conservation (geological conservation) is an issue not being dealt with in an organized and systematic way, in contrast with bio-conservation (nature conservation). Therefore geo-conservation approaches, as the ‘geopark’ concept, are not recognized under Greek legislation and elements of geological heritage can only be granted protection in isolation and in limited extension, mainly as playing a role to the biotic environment. However, to date, geoparks have been established and recognized by the European Geoparks Network (E.G.N.), in Greece. Those geoparks are protected under the Forestry Legislation, the Archeological Legislation or/and the Environmental Legislation. In view of the plans of the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (I.G.M.E.) to expanding the Geoparks Network in Greece, a thorough examination of the available legal tools to protecting elements of geological importance in geoparks is required, with a view to proposing a legal protection regime that would realistically deal with the conservation of geosites and the establishment of geoparks focusing on overlapping with nature conservation areas, namely “Natura 2000 sites”. In addition, building on the experience of the administration and management of national parks and Natura 2000 sites, the available management options will be examined with a view to providing the optimum management alternatives.