Summary

eOUTLAND, successor of a previous successful project OUTLAND, comes to capitalize past experience in order to establish better terms in the protection of NATURA 2000 and other protected areas of the cross-border area against natural hazards, especially floods and wildland fires. Natural hazards with catastrophic impacts on the natural environment and biodiversity do not have local characters while they can affect large areas across the Greece-Bulgaria area.

The project aims to valorize and reinforce the civil protection volunteers of the cross-border area in order to establish a joint certified, integrated and appropriately equipped framework for their education, training and operational support in matters of wildland fire and flood management. This will lead to the enhancement of the cross-border biodiversity protection against natural hazards and the improvement of conservation status of cross-border habitats and also to the protection of societies from upcoming natural disasters.

The cross-border approach will also address the issues of efficient cross-border cooperation and operational compatibility amongst Greek and Bulgarian civil protection volunteers which are designed to pertain under a joint transnational umbrella. The main outputs of eOUTLAND include (a) the creation of a certified integrated joint educational program consisting of specific modules and training material, on site, video and live streaming trainings and innovative ICT learning tools, (b) the creation of a robust framework to enhance the operational capacity of the cross-border civil protection volunteers towards environmental/biodiversity protection from natural hazards, (c) the base setting for future sustainability by establishing certification procedures, ensuring the transferability and replicability of the project’s results and creating a viable and sustainable cross-border network of structures.

It should be noted that the new common character of the cross-border approach (common certified training, innovative and science based ICT tools, interoperability and cooperation solutions, network establishment) makes the project a pioneer in its field. The added value consists in creating an effective and innovative system for the protection of NATURA 2000 and other protected areas of the cross-border area as well as of civilians and properties, while helping towards the sustainable financial management of the central and local government resources since. Additionally, the project will promote the awareness and mobilization into society with benefits in resilience, security and prevention of the adverse effects due to natural hazards. Finally, the project targets in promoting volunteerism and the volunteers’ familiarization with new technology tools along with the continuing, evolvement and operational application of an already successful previous project into the current programming period and beyond.