DUTH Presents PONTOS to Key Stakeholders in Greece

Press release, prepared by DUTH

The ongoing activities of the PONTOS project were presented on February 2, 2021, by the head of the Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH)’ PONTOS team, Prof. Georgios Sylaios, to the Board of Directors of the Management Body (FD) of the National Park of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (EPAMATH) in Greece.

The National Park covers one of the most important wetland complexes in the country and Europe, due to the wide range and variety of its habitats. EPAMATH includes the Nestos River Delta, extending over an area of approximately 55,000 acres and has a 50 km long coastline. It is also the pilot site of the PONTOS project, in which Project partners aim to leverage the Copernicus Earth Observation program and enable key relevant actors to improve environmental monitoring at a local scale through the use of innovative and tested tools. The overarching goal of the PONTOS project is to introduce a cutting-edge methodology that will allow FD-EPAMATH to monitor the environmental status of its coastal area efficiently and cost-effectively and thus enhance the management of its natural capital which is crucial for the sustainable development of the region of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace.

In this context, Prof. Sylaios gave an overview of the initial steps are already taken, since the start of the project in July 2020, to assess the current situation of coastal erosion in the Nestos river delta area and explained the planned activities that will be pursued. “The use of satellite products, combined with on-line sensors and models will enhance our capacity to monitor and manage this sensitive and valuable area”, Sylaios explained. More precisely, until its completion in December 2022, the PONTOS project will develop for the National Park area reports on (1) the expected dynamics of coastal line changes, (2) an integrated assessment on wetland floating and emerged vegetation, (3) an assessment on chlorophyll concentration and eutrophication dynamics and (4) an evaluation of the agricultural water balance, water productivity and water stress indices of the area. Also, it will help train EPAMATH staff to incorporate the PONTOS methodology and tools in their operational activities and develop an informed, fact-based strategy for countering major challenges.

As the Chairman of the Board of FD-EPAMATH, Ass. Prof. Georgios Gaidajis, noted after the ensuing discussion, “PONTOS is a valuable support in our quest to carry out integrated nature management processes based on scientific evidence and methodologies”. The presentation prepared by the DUTH team is available here.

Copernicus assisted environmental monitoring across the Black Sea Basin-PONTOS is a 30-month project funded by the European Union’s ENI CBC Black Sea Basin Programme 2014-2020. The PONTOS will make information about the Black Sea environment from the EU Copernicus Earth Observation platform accessible to scientists, policymakers, citizens, and other relevant stakeholders. It will utilize information technologies to automatically retrieve Copernicus products, couple them with national or regional infrastructures for data acquisition and processing, and provide monitoring services for the Black Sea and the surrounding environment in a transboundary, standardized, and homogenized manner. The environmental monitoring system to be developed will be tested in pilot sites across Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine.