Conducting the conference titled “Addressing the threats of invasive alien species and mitigation of potential conflicts”

The conference with the theme “Addressing the threats of invasive alien species and mitigation of potential conflicts” was held with great success and resonance from February 14 to 16, 2024, at Amphitheater I of the KEDEA building at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh). The seminar was organized by Aristotle university of Thessaloniki, coordinated by Mr. D. Bakaloudis, Professor at the school of Forestry and Natural Environment, AUTH, and coordinator of the LIFE ATIAS project.

During the first two days, issues related to the contribution of LIFE ATIAS in addressing the threats from invasive alien species in North Macedonia were discussed, as well as issues related to management practices to control and address such threats.

On the last day of the seminar, a technical meeting was held at the premises of the school of Forestry and Natural Environment of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, from the laboratory of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, during which a demonstration was made of the methods used in the field to record and trap invasive alien species.

The first day of the seminar started with a warm welcome and a speech from the project coordinator, Mr. Dimitrios Bakaloudis, professor of school of Forestry and natural environment AUTH, focused on the scope of action and the contribution of the LIFE ATIAS project and on addressing the threats of invasive alien species in Northern Greece. Speeches from other members of the LIFE ATIAS project team followed and specifically:

  • Dr. Konstantina Makridou, Forester from the Laboratory of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries of, discussed the impact of control practices and the dynamic occupancy of American Mink in Western Macedonia.
  • Dr. Evangelos Kotsonas, Forester from the Laboratory of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries of Freshwater, pointed out the impacts of terrestrial invasive alien species.
  • Dr. Thomas Charalambos, Forester from the Laboratory of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries of Freshwater, analyzed the introduction pathways and spread of invasive alien species.
  • Ms. Eleni Loukaki-Gountara, Forester and Environmentalist M.Sc., representing the Environmental Management Company “HOMEOTECH”, discussed the system for recording invasive species and early detection within the project.
  • Dr. Alexandra Stefanidou from the Laboratory of Forest Management and Remote Sensing of the Department of Forestry at AUTh, focused on producing cartographic products to support Mink population management using field and GIS data.
  • Mr. Stylianos Tampakis, Professor of the school of forestry and natural environment from Aristotle university of Thessaloniki, proposed the legislative framework for IAS in Greece and the EU.

Finally, Mr. Kyriakos Skordas, Forester and Environmentalist M.Sc., General Director of KOMATH, stimulated a discussion among participants related to questions and answers to the above topics of speeches.

The second day of the seminar had the overall theme of invasive alien species management and conflict mitigation. Mr. Evangelos Kotsonas started with his speech focusing on human management of IAS and then speeches followed:

  • Ms. Malamati Papakosta, assistant Professor of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources’ Management, Democritus University of Thrace, analyzed the feeding habits of American mink in Western Macedonia, Greece.
  • Predrag Simonovic, Professor of Biology, University of Belgrade in Serbia, discussed about vectors of alien species introductions into the Balkan region and implications for managing them between stakeholders concerned.
  • Dr. Yordan Koshev and Polina Nikova, researchers Institute of Biodiversity and ecosystem research of Bulgarian academy of science, focused on American mink escapees in Bulgaria and their establishment in natural environment posing a threat to natural biodiversity: national attitudes and legal developments.
  • Dr. Gabriela Morozov and Gabriela Cretu, from Danube Delta biosphere reserve Authorities, Romania analyzed pilot measures to control the IAS in Danube delta.
  • Ms. Nikoleta Sidiropoulou, from iSea, emphasized the importance of responsible seafood consumption and promoting the consumption of edible marine alien species.
  • Dr. Nikolaos Krigkas, Biologist, Researcher of ELGO, focused on the invasion of Solanum elaeagnifolium in Greek cities, cultivated fields and Natura 2000.

Finally, the speeches were concluded with a briefing by Ms. Despoina Vlachaki, Forester, Project manager of LIFE ATIAS and representative of the company “Homeotech”, about the questionnaire prepared to inform the public: “Know your alien” and is available through the project website.