MYLONOPOULOS, D., MOIRA. P and PARTHENIS, S., 2011. The Legislative Framework of the Management of the Protected Area in Greece; the Case of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. In: Micallef, A. (ed.), MCRR3-2010 Conference Proceedings, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 61, pp. 173- 182. Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy, ISSN 0749-0208.
The protection of areas presenting a particular natural beauty goes back to antiquity. There are references 2,000 years ago about some areas in India where any form of commercial exploitation was prohibited so that natural resources were protected. There was a similar form of protection for hunting sites in Europe. In Greece the first protected area was the National Woodland Park of Mount Olympus, the ‘home of the gods’, in 1938. As the number of the protected areas started increasing significantly the need for policy review with regard to the legal protection and the management of these areas emerged. Although Greece is an insular country with an expanded coastline and a wealth of marine resources, only two marine areas were designated by law as protected areas in 1999: the National Marine Park of Zakynthos (NMPZ) and the National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades (NMPANS), currently the largest marine protected area in Europe (approximately 2,260 sq. km). Both areas are well-established destinations for domestic and international tourists. However, what is particular is the fact that NMPZ hosts the most important loggerhead sea turtle Caretta-caretta nesting rookery in the Mediterranean while NMPANS hosts the critically endangered species of monk seal Monachus-monachus. As it can be inferred, land-use conflicts for the sake of the economic development of these areas are a common phenomenon nowadays. The purpose of this paper is to examine the particular problems emerging from the enforcement of the legislation governing the operation of NMPZ, which plays host to hundreds of sea turtle nests each season, taking into consideration the fact that the island attracts thousands of visitors every summer. An assessment of the viability of the marine park will be made and solutions with regard to the sustainable development of the area will be suggested. These suggestions could possibly serve as the main platform for review policy of the current legislative framework by the newly-established Greek Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change.