Pindos: High up in the mountains near Ioannina City
The enchanting natural beauty of Northern Pindos and its rich biodiversity are the result of specific climatic conditions, its geomorphological relief and the soil composition, combined with the long influence of human activities.
Northern Pindos is a biodiversity "hotspot" for Greece. The Northern Pindos mountain range is located at the northwest corner of Greece and includes the mountains of the Smolikas (2637m.), Grammos (2520m.), Tymfi (2497m.), Lyngos (2177m.), Vasilitsa (2249 m), as well as other smaller mountains, such as Tsouka Rossa, Flabouro, Mitsikeli and Tambouri. In the heart of Northern Pindos the Aoos River springs and traverses its largest part. The Voidomatis River is smaller, yet creates the homonymous gorge, one the most spectacular in Europe. Aoos and Voidomatis meet in the plains of Konitsa, where they are joined by the Sarantaporos, which flows from the north-east.
The high biodiversity value of Northern Pindos has resulted in the creation of 7 protected areas under the Habitats Directive (Natura 2000 network), including two National Parks (Vikos-Aoos N.P. and Pindos/Valia Kalda N.P.).
The vegetation of Northern Pindos is very rich. Lower altitudes are characterised by Mediterranean species of bushes and trees such as holly oaks (Quercus coccifera), holm oak (Q. ilex) and strawberry trees (Arbutus sp.), whereas oak (Quercus sp.) forests can be found higher up. Further up, the forests are mainly composed of beech (Fagus sp.) and conifers with the dominant species being black pine (Pinus nigra) and fir (Abies borisii- regis). Near the peaks, the vegetation is composed of expansive sub-alpine meadows and scattered Bosnian pine (Pinus leucodermis).
At lower elevations, along the mountainsides and in the valleys of Northern Pindos, one can find an widespread network of mountain settlements that consist of over a hundred villages and two towns. The six main clusters of villages, which contain the settlements of Northern Pindos, are separated into four prefectures: the prefecture of Ioannina contains the Zagori area as well as Konitsa and Metsovo with the villages surrounding them. The prefectures of Grevena and Kozani contain the villages of Mount Voio, Grevena includes the Koupatsaraiika villages, and finally the villages of the northeastern slopes of Grammos are part of the prefecture of Kastoria. An additional unity is created by the Vlahohoria of Northern Pindos, whose villages are built as close as possible to high altitudes on all the large mountains of Northern Pindos. Finally the Sarakatsani, a nomadic people that raise livestock, every summer settle with their herds in the meadows and sub-alpine plateaus of Northern Pindos.
Based on their traditional life styles and the interactions they shared with their neighbours, the inhabitants of all the aforementioned settlements developed through the centuries their specific characteristics.
The variety of climatic conditions, the geomorphologic bas-relief and the ground composition of the area in combination with the centuries-long effect of human activities contributed to the creation of an area hosting an exceptionally rich biodiversity.
The most valuable ecological characteristics of the area are the unsurpassed beauty of the area (sheer mountains and canyons, valleys, diversity of bas-relief, extensive forests and a diversity of aquatic systems), the geologic richness (potholes, cliff faces etc.), and of course the presence of a unique variety of habitats and wildlife, over 1,750 species of plants and almost 300 species of vertebrates –among those many rare and protected species. Also noteworthy are the large cultural and architectural aspects of the human environment with the scattered settlements and other structures: bridges, stone-paved roads, fountains, hydro-powered installations, post-Byzantine churches and monasteries. Another important factor is the upkeep of productive activities, such as stockbreeding, which are still alive today and continue to be practised in the traditional manner.
Yet, this ecologically wondrous area is facing serious environmental problems. The main threats undermining the unique ecological values of Northern Pindos are the following:
reduction of the diversity of natural habitats,
reduction of the area covered by valuable mature forests,
increase of poaching,
increase of illegal fishing
increase of illegal collection of living organisms
disturbance of wildlife,
aesthetic degradation of the landscape,
extinction of certain animal species
dramatic population reduction of many species,
mismanagement of water sources, streams and rivers, primarily through the unplanned construction of dams.
Papingo Information Centre WWF
The “Papingo Information Centre for nature and culture in Zagori" is located in Mikro Papingo. The Centre is accommodated in the building of the old Primary School, next to the church of the Taxiarhes
WWF’s aim is to keep this old building alive as an “open school for nature”, bringing the local community and the visitors in contact with the nature and culture of Pindos. On the upper floor of the Centre, WWF Greece has established a permanent exhibition for the natural and cultural values of Pindos. At the basement, information is offered about WWF Greece’s activities in Greece, whereas a small shop operates for the promotion of local products.
WWF’s local team also organises guided tours and environmental information seminars addressing visitors and local schools.
The Papingo Information Centre is open all days of the week, except from Thursdays:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10.30 a.m. – 17.30 in the winter (1/11- 30/4) 11.00 – 18.00 (in the summer 1/5 – 31/10)
Friday – Saturday – holidays : 11.00 – 18.00
Telephone/Fax. +3026530 41071 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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