Green Armed Forces

Nature and Biodiversity


1. Biodiversity refers to the variety of living species on Earth (natural capital), including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi. Biodiversity loss is the most critical environmental threat globally and must be tackled together with climate change. It is also vital to human well-being because it provides services that support our economies and societies. Biodiversity is also vital for ecosystem services – services provided by nature – such as pollination, climate control, flood protection, soil fertility and production of food, fuel, fibre and medicines.

2. Greece is a country with significant and surprisingly rich biodiversity. It is a true mosaic, boasting a wide variety of animal species, plant species and ecosystems. More than 23,000 land and freshwater animals and another 3,500 marine species have been recorded to date , but the actual number is estimated to be more than double. Similarly, the flora of Greece consists of more than 5,800 recorded plant species.

3. The natural environment and biodiversity are protected by the European Ecological Network of Protected Areas NATURA 2000. Expansion of the NATURA 2000 network, particularly marine areas, and improvements to the way it operates are two of the main objectives of the European Union’s biodiversity strategic plan. Greece has 446 land and marine EU NATURA 2000 sites in total; this means that 28% of the land and 20% of the sea of Greece have been included in the EU Natura 2000 network.

4. Habitats, especially in marine protected areas, help stabilize sediments and prevent erosion of coastal areas, mitigating the effects of storms, tides, floods, etc. Protected areas create natural defence mechanisms that provide significant benefits to coastal populations, protect natural landscapes and infrastructure, and mitigate climate change. The conservation of habitats, flora and fauna constitutes a general obligation. In addition to the apparent importance of biodiversity, the natural background constitutes an essential parameter for the Armed Forces to perform exercises under training conditions similar to the actual conditions. It should be noted that military training areas are internationally recognized as islets of biodiversity.

5. Within this framework, the Armed Forces will have to:

a. Care for the protection of the natural environment, adjusting everyday activities, planning and executing exercises so as not to affect protected areas and to limit possible pressures on the natural environment.
b. Assist with personnel and means in the management of various natural disasters (such as fires, floods.) and in helping restore the natural environment (reforestation, beach clean-ups, etc.).

6. Given the above, the General Staffs should take responsibility by mapping the continental and marine protected areas in all printed and electronic products of the Hellenic Hydrographic Service and the Hellenic Military Geographical Service in order to provide comprehensive information on protected areas of national – European interest, to all potential users.