SPA Central Rodopi mountains and Nestos valley
Central Rodopi mountains and Nestos valley (GR1140008)
National Name: Kentriki Rodopi kai koilada Nestou
The area includes the central part of Rodopi mountain range, its west border being mount Falakro and its east mount Koula (Xanthi). To the north, it extends up to the Greek-Bulgarian border, while the valley and the artificial lake of Nestos at the dam of Thisavros are its southern edge.
Landscape and biodiversity
Four vegetation zones occur in the area. The oak zone (300-800 m) dominated by Quercus frainetto, Quercus pubescens and Quercus dalechampii; the fir-beech zone (800-1,000 m) with typical species such as Fagus sylvatica, Abies borisii-regis, Pinus nigra, Salix alba, Populus tremula, Betula pendula; the Black Pine zone which extends in mixed stands within the previous and following vegetation zones; and finally the coniferous forest zone above 1,000 m dominated by mixed stands of Scots Pine, Norway Spruce and Silver Birch. Furthermore, at this altitude there is non-zonal vegetation with bogs, dominated by moss and dry grasslands with Festuca spp., as well as rocky outcrops, gorges and grasslands at the subalpine zone.
These extensive forests, including virgin beech and coniferous forests (such as the undisturbed natural ecosystems of the Virgin Forest of Fraktos, as well as the forests of Tsichla and Chaïntou) are of the most productive in Greece.
The site is important for species associated with upland forests, especially for species such as Bonasa bonasia, Tetrao urogallus, Neophron percnopterus, Pernis apivorus, Aquila chrysaetos, Hieraaetus pennatus and Aegolius funereus. Six species of woodpeckers are present in the area.
Human activities include forestry, livestock breeding and – in recent years – ecotourism.
Forests occurring in this area are the most productive ones in Greece but also valuable with respect to their biodiversity. Due to the lack of other economic activities, forest management is particularly intensive, resulting in the degradation of certain sites. Especially over the past few years, the construction of additional large forest roads has allowed access to heavy-weight machinery. This, in combination with the lack of strict supervision of the logging procedures, often results in the removal of larger quantities of timber from those planned but mainly in the disturbance of the ecosystem, affecting forest avifauna as well as large mammal populations. The dams constructed along Nestos have transformed the river into a reservoir. Another threat is the abandonment of traditional land uses, especially livestock breeding which used to play a decisive role in the formation of this mountainous ecosystem.
The area is included in the Special Protection Areas and is a Site of Community Importance. Also, it is a Wildlife Refuge and Biogenetic Reserve, as well as Important Bird Area (IBA).