The protection of the natural environment is directly related to the local communities that live near, depend on and interact with nature. Based on the Greek legislation, the Special Environmental Study, which is the necessary prerequisite for the legal establishment of a new Marine Protected Area and the adoption of the necessary conservation and protection measures, includes the collection of scientific evidence relating to the area’s natural environment, but also data relating to the human environment. In the case of the Gyaros Natura 2000 site, the inhabited islands of Syros and Andros.
The “CYCLADES LIFE” team will begin this work by conducting an initial study on the basis of secondary, statistical data, grey literature, and published reports in order to compile the existing knowledge and acquire an initial view of the socio-economic environment and the human-environment interactions in the wider area. This will lead to the formulation of a plan for collecting the main empirical data on site from fishermen and inhabitants of both Syros and Andros islands.
More specifically, the “CYCLADES LIFE” team will conduct the actual socio-economic study of the wider area, with emphasis on Syros and Andros islands, in order to describe in detail the social and economic structure of the local societies. The socio-economic and livelihood conditions in both islands will be researched through quantitative and qualitative methods.
Questionnaires will be addressed to a random sample of fishermen living and working in the wider marine area of Gyaros, for collecting data on the fishing activity, fishing practices, fisheries-seals interactions, and socioeconomics of fisheries that concerns the fishing community in general. Additionally, a series of interviews addressed to key local stakeholders will be carried out, both before and after the quantitative research, in order to identify and record the more general socio-economic activities and trends in Syros and Andros.
Lastly, a specific round of interviews will be addressed to stakeholders and individuals with a view to describe the local interests and activities and understand the sources of potential human-related conflicts and antagonisms developed in the societies of Andros and Syros. The goal is to identify the formal and informal forms of power within the local community in an attempt to clarify the responsibilities and interests of the involved stakeholders.
The completion of this action will yield critical baseline data that will allow the project team to build the appropriate framework for the efficient operation of the Consortium of Stakeholders. In addition, it will result to a better understanding of the evolving nature of human-environment interactions and the fragility of human-nature interactions in the adjacent islands of Andros and Syros. A factor that will be proved to be particularly valuable for the design, establishment and operation of the new Marine Protected Area.