Περιφερειακή Ενότητα Δράμας

GreekEnglish (United Kingdom)BulgarianGermanFrenchRussianTurkish

Natural Environment

Print

 

In the prefecture of Drama, the dominant element in the character of the area is the natural environment with unique habitats and stunning forest landscapes, which are reference points for each activity there. It is intersected and separated - from Nestos River and lakes - into two parts. The northern part consists of the Central Rhodope Mountains, with highest peak, this of the Virgin Forest at 1,953m (the highest peak of Rhodope is Mousala at 2,925m altitude in Bulgarian territory). The Mountain Range of Rhodope got its name from Rhodope - daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. She and her brother Aemos were transformed by gods into mountains. Mount Falakro is in the southern and central part of the prefecture, with the tallest peak «Profitis Ilias» at 2,232m altitude and other high peaks, such as «Vardena» at 2,194m and «Chionotrypa» (snowpit), at 2,111m. South and west are the mountains Menikio and Orvilos, whose watersheds are the eastern border of the prefecture.
The highest peak of Menikio is «Mavromata» in Serres, at an altitude of 1,963m and «Thamnotopi» (heath) - the highest peak in Drama - is at an altitude of 1,952m. The highest peak of Orvilos, at 2,212m, is the common boundary of Bulgaria and Serres-Drama. The water element has a strong presence in the prefecture, because Nestos River and lakes dominate the northern and central parts. In the southern and lowland river, there is Aggitis River and Voirani’s, Drama’s and Mylopotamo’s springs. These waters are involved in the irrigation network of the plain of Drama and flow into Strymonas River. At the plateau of Kato Nevrokopi and near the village of Lefkogia, was created an artificial lake to irrigate the plateau. The highlands are characterized by humid continental climate and the plains, of the Mediterranean one. Also, during June to September the climate is dry and during the rest months, it is mild. At the lowland areas, the average monthly air temperature of warmer months does not exceed 28°C and the average daily temperature is often greater than 30°C, with extreme degrees 35°C and 40°C, during the day. The monthly average air temperature for the cold months is above 0°C, with extreme degrees that ​​reach at -14°C or lower at -20°C, in Kato Nevrokopi, during the day. The monthly mean air temperature for the cold months is above 0°C – it is extreme, because it creates pockets of cold masses, moving from the mountains. Most rainfalls occur, during the winter months and thermal storms, during summer - a characteristic climate of the Balkan region. The average annual rainfall depends on the marine altitude. It reaches 587mm in the lowland and 778mm on the mountains - where we cannot have measurements. After calculations, we assume that exceeds 1000mm. The subsoil of Drama prefecture includes valuable mineral wealth in industrial minerals, mainly deposits and marbles. In the southern lowlands of the prefecture, there are lignite and peat deposits.


         Vegetation



The prefecture of Drama is a special place of Greece, due to its natural environment. We support this, not only, because it includes almost all vegetation zones that one can meet in Greece, but also, because the flora of the region is very rich in plant species (over than 1000), including the unique ones for Greece, as well. There is a vegetation variety, due to the location, the geography of the region, the climate, soil and the geological history of the place. During the Ice Age, because of the intense change of the climate, most plants of Central Europe «migrated» to warmer Mediterranean regions. After the glaciers’ times, they «returned» to their original place, except, in cases, where natural obstacles, such as the Balkan Mountains and Rhodope, complicated their «return». So, in each place, they found suitable conditions, they remained and became endemic, enriching the flora of the region. The vegetation of the prefecture can be described like this: Starting from Drama, towards all three directions - west, north and east - and keep going high, we found Holm-oaks or woodlands with holms, reaching up at an altitude of about 400m. Other species that we find in these forests are gavros (hornbean), Paliouri, krania (dogwood), ptelea-karagatsi (elm), vatos (bramble) and etc. Higher (up to 800m altitude) at hilly and mountainous regions, we find deciduous oaks and somewhere in intermediate and wet locations, there are chestnut and lime flower forests. In these forests occur sporadically or in groups and types of alder, hazel, walnut, ostrya, ash, juniper (cedar), etc. We can find them, in all mountains of the prefecture and north to reach Skaloti village.
Their role is important, because the fruit of oaks (acorns), chestnut, hazel and etc, feed wild animals. Beech forests and coniferous of coast Mediterranean, occur at higher altitudes, reaching up to 1,800m. At this zone, except for beech forests, there are forests of black pine.
The zone includes highly productive forests that give us precious wood [beech wood technique, piles of ΔΕΗ (Hellenic Public Power Corporation) - OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organization), black pine wood technique]. Other available types are: fir, juniper, trembling poplar, birch, willow, ideon bramble, adrianos, sorbic, maple, blueberry and etc. Along with forests of beech, at altitudes of 1000-1950m, are the boreal coniferous forests of great historical importance, because are composed of extinct species in the region. In these forests, dominate conifers with spruce and pine and there are species of beech forest, too. The historical human journey in the region has played a key role in the current form of the land, in the Central Rhodope.
Previously, there were scattered settlements of Muslim population, and nomads of Sarakatsani. After the liberation and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), there was population exchange, between Muslims and Greeks from Pontos. Refugees were settled in southern and larger settlements, where they remained, till the Civil War. Sarakatsani had a stronger presence in the region, during the interwar and created «tseligata» (a kind of shepherds). Due to the strong livestock presence in this place, there were extensive meadows and only in specific locations, there were high forests. Testimonies indicate that these areas - such as this one of the ​​today forest village Elatia- were a prairie. Since 1946, Sarakatsani finally left the area and later, almost all the Central Rhodope was a «Forbidden Zone», because of the Cold War conditions in Europe. Because of the livestock and the intense human activities removals, natural reforestation and forestation in the region continues, even today.


Flora


Flora that composes the vegetation of Drama is very rich with rare and unique species for the Greek mainland. The number of plants is over 1000 species and many of these, form forests, only in our prefecture. There are mentioned below representative woody and other rare species of herbaceous vegetation:

Wood: Fir (Abies alba), Hybrid Genus of Fir (Abies borisii regis), Spruce (Picea excelsa, syn. Picea abies), Black Pine (Pinus nigra), Pine Forest (Pinus sylvestris), Balkan Pine (Pinus peuce), White Skin Pine (Pinus leucodermis), Taxos (Taxus baccata), Cedar or Juniper (Juniperus communis, J. oxycedrus), Willow (Salix fragilis, S. alba, S. triandra, S. elaeagnos, S. purpurea, S. amplexicaulis, S. caprea , S. cinerea), Poplars (Populus tremula, P. nigra), Birch (Betula verrucosa syn. B. pendula), Sklithra (Alnus glutinosa, A. incana), Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus, C. orientalis), Ostria (Ostrya carpinifolia), Hazel (Corylus avellana), Beech (Fagus sylvatica, F. moesiaca), Oaks (Quercus conferta syn. Q. frainetto, Q. petraea, syn. Q. sessiliflora, Q. pubescens syn. Q. lanuginosa, Q. cerris, Q. dalehampii), Bramble (Rubus saxatilis, R. ulmifolius, R. canenscens, R. hirtus, R.caesius), Raspberry (Rubus idaeus), Rosehip (Rosa canina, R. arvensis, R. pendulina, R. nitidula, R. corymbifera, R. turcica, R. pimpinellifolia), Wild Apple Tree (Malus silvestris, M. domestica), Sorbian (Sorbus aucuparia S. torminalis, S. umbelata, S. graeca, S. aria), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna , C. orientalis, C. laciniata), Wild Cherry (Prunus avium), Wild Plum (Prunus cerasifera), Fraxos (Fraxinus ornus), Walnut (Juglans regia), Maple Tree (Acer heldreichii, A. hyrcanum, A. pseudoplatanus, A. platanoides ), Birdlime or Mistletoe (Viscum album), Loranthos, (Loranthus europaeus), mezereos Daphne (Daphne mezereum), Agrabeli (Clematis flamula, C. vitalba), Dogwood (Cornus mas), Honeysuckle (Lonicera xylosteum), Koufoxylia (Sambucus nigra ), Adrianos (Sambucus racemosa), Lilac (Syringa vulgaris), Linden (Tilia tomentosa), Elm (Ulmus montana syn. U. glabra), Grapes (Vitis sylvestris), Blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus, V.vitis.idaeal).
Herbaceous: Tulip Rhodope (Lilium rhodopaeum), the Tulip martago (Lilium martagon), Crocus (Crocus veluchensis, C. pulchellus. C. chtysanthus), Kolchiko (Colchicum autumnale), Iris (Iris reichenbachii), Orchids (Orchis ustulata, O . purpurea, O. mascula, O. trindentata), Daktyliorizes (Dactylorhiza sambucina, D. cordigera, D. saccifera), Erythronio (Etythronium dens-canis), Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor, V. rhodopeia, V. stojanowii, V. delphinantha , V. perinensis), Bellflower (Campanula moesiaca, C. rapunculoides), Anemone (Anemone ranunculoides, A. nemorosa), Telekia (Telekia speciosa), Wild Carnation (Dianthus pinifolius), Ayiouga (Ajuga pyramidalis), Inulin (Inula bifrons, I . hirta, I. ensifolia), Ranougoula (Ranunculus fontanus, R. acris, R. serbicus), Peony (Paeonia officinalis), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca), Geo (Geum rivale, G. rhodopeum), Kentavrees (Centaurea stenolepis, C . parilica), Champerlaea (Haberlea rhodopensis), etc.


Fauna


The fauna of Drama is particularly gifted in species and populations. In the northern part, where it extends one of the most important Greek mountain ecosystems, the Central Rhodope’s one, we can find - perhaps not all - but certainly, the majority of the wildlife up to the Greek mountains. The wide range of altitudes, which starts at 100m, ends approximately at 2000m, at the top of Falakro, Menikio, Orvilo and the Central Rhodope. The gorges, slopes and grassland, as well, are combined with the variety of vegetation and create appropriate conditions for the coexistence of many species of wildlife. In Drama prefecture, we find more than 150 species of birds, many of which are included in the EU Directive for species that require special protection measures. Also, in the wider area of ​​the prefecture, live at least 32 species of mammals - most of them are rare species of Greece and Europe. Many species of wildlife, as well as their habitats, are protected by the EU Directive 92/43.
Bear (Ursus arctos): This is the largest and most impressive mammal. In Greece, it is found only in Pindos and Rhodope. Three small populations still exist inside the European Union (Spain, Italy). It lays usually one to two baby bears - only after completing the fourth year of its age. It travels long distances, in order to feed itself. They are omnivorous species. During spring, it feeds with grasses, in open, upland grasslands and during the summer and autumn months, it gets fed with fruit trees and berry fruit (raspberry, plum and cranberry, etc.). During the winter months, it goes in remote areas for wintering (it gets asleep in winter months). In Central Rhodope, survives a small population (about 20-30 people). It is threatened to be extinct, so it is strictly protected by Greek and European legislation. In recent years, there have been attempts by «Arcturus» for its study and protection.
Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus): The roe deer, unlike the deer, exists in various parts of the prefecture. It prefers forested areas with many gaps and one can see it frequently to wander, not only to forest borders, but also in neighboring crops, where no intensive farming methods are used – and when hunting is limited, of course. The smaller size - compared with the deer – and adaptability to any forest environment are two important factors that allow it to have a fairly wide distribution in Greece.
Wild Goat (Rupicarpa rupicarpa): It prefers steep and inaccessible mountain slopes. It performs seasonal vertical movements, depending on food availability and weather conditions. In the Virgin Forest and the forest of Frakto, generally occurs, one of the most important populations of the species in our prefecture. This population is the only one, we can find in the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, while there are some small and isolated populations in Pindos Mountains and the Mount Olympus.
Deer (Cervus elaphus): The natural populations of deer that existed in our country, unfortunately, they have been almost disappeared. The only population that still survives is that of the Central Rhodope. The two-three remaining populations are found today in Greece. They were artificially formed by the gradual release of individuals from farms of the Central Europe. Normally, deer lives in the forests, where it exits to graze in the boundaries or in adjacent grasslands.
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos): One of the most characteristic Eagles of Greece. It nests on steep rocky sites. It does not migrate and it feeds itself mainly by hares, partridges and turtle. It throws the latter from very high altitudes to break their shells. Its populations have been decreased – as the majority of its species - that is why, they are protected by law.


Other species


According to the wide range of birds, it should be noted the presence of coxcomb rooster, which is observed in our country, only in the Virgin Forest of Frakto. There are also other species, as the capercaillie and the wild chicken, which retain - in the Central Rhodope – the most important populations in our country. It is also notable to mention the presence of all woodpeckers of Greece (eight) and the Black-woodpecker, which is recorded in our country, in Frakto Forest and Mount Olympus. Among the remaining species, it would be worth to mention the presence of carnivores and raptors, which play an important role in self-regulation of fauna populations, such as wolf, fox, Cry-Eagle, the snake-eagle, etc. Particularly, we should mention birds, such as woodcock and sparrow-owl - for them, Drama prefecture might be the only breeding site in Greece - and fir horn-owl, as well, which nestles in a few mountain forests of Greece, maintaining a remarkable population in the region.
Here, are lists of mammal species and the most important birds, such as reptiles and amphibians, which are found in Drama prefecture:

Mammals: Wildcat (Felis silvestris), Wild Goat (Rupicapra rupicapra), Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Bear (Ursus arctos), Rat (Microtus arvalis), Badger (Meles meles), Mole (Talpa europaea), Valtomygalida (Neomys fodiens), Otter (Lutra lutra), Forest Dormouse (Glis glis), Forest Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), Forest Dig Mouse (Clethrionomys glareolus), Tree Dormouse(Dryomys nitedula), Deer (Cervus elaphus), Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), Bush Mouse ( Apodemus agrarius), Common Mygalida (Sorex araneus), Kriko-mouse (Apodemus flavicollis), Hare (Lepus europaeus), Wolf (Canis lupus), Micro-dormouse (Spalax leucodon), Nanomygalida (Sorex minutus), Weasel (Mustela nivalis), Stone-ferret (Martes foina), Hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor), Dig-mouse (Pitymys subterraneus), Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), Stiktoiktida (Vormela peregusna), Snow-mouse (Microtus nivalis), Chorafomygalida (Crocidura leucodon), Chorafopontikos (Mus abboti). There are also several species of bats, but unfortunately, there are lacking scientific records and it might be appeared Lyga (Lynx lynx), Forest-ferret (Martes martes) and Dirty-ferret (Mustela putorius), but with no confirmed reports. Amphibians: Kitrinibombina (Bombina variegata), Chomatofrynos (Bufo bufo), Prasinofrynos (B. viridis), Salamander (Salamandra salamandra). Reptiles: a) Turtles: Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca), Mediterranean Tortoise (T. hermanni). b) Snakes: Black Zamenis (Coluber jucularis), Home-snake (Elaphe situla), Lafiatis (E. quatuorlineata), Viper (Vipera ammodytes), Astritis (V. berus). c) Lizards: Sand-lizard (Lacerta agilis), Green-lizard (L. viridis), Wall-lizard (Podarcis muralis), Ofiomoros (Ophiomorus punctatissimus).

Birds: Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina), Grouse (Bonasa bonasia), Eagle owl (Bubo bubo), Ouzel (Cinclus cinclus), Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Fassoperistero (Columba oenas), Lefkonotis (Dendrocopus leucotos), Pardalotsiklitara (Dendrocopus major), Mesotsiklitara (Dendrocopus medius), Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), Vlachos (Emberiza hortulana), Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio), Bee ( Merops apiaster), Thrush (Monticola saxatilis), Karydospastis (Nucifraga caryocatactes), Ortolan (Oriolus oriolus), Three-finger (Picoides tridactylus), Stachtotsiklitara

(Picus canus), Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), Chionotsichla (Turdus torquatus), Partridge (Alectoris graeca), Lowland partridge (Perdix perdix), Saini (Accipiter brevipes), Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus), Kestrel ( Falco naumanni), Pigeons (Columba livia), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Egret (Greta alba), Lefkopelargos (Ciconia ciconia), Black Stork (Ciconia nigera), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus ) Mute Swans (Cygnus olor), Asprometopochina (Anser albifrons), Greylag Goose (Anser anser), Papini (Anas crecca), Pochard (Aythia ferina), Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Nerokotsela (Rallus aquaticus), Corncrake (Crex crex), Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Koufompekatsino (Lymnocryptes minimus), Great Snipe (Gallinago media), Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus).


     Hunting 


Drama prefecture, due to its rich fauna, both in species and populations, is one of the most famous hunting places all over Greece. For dwellers of our prefecture, hunting is a traditional activity with deep social roots of the past, since huntings were a necessary part of forest populations’ diet.
Furred hunting is mainly wild boar and hare. It is also allowed fox hunting and stone-ferret. The commonly hunted species of birds are: dendrotsichla (tree gum-bird), kelaidotsichla (chirrup gum-bird), blackbird, woodcock, partridge, turtle dove, wood pigeon and there are also hunted species like: wild pigeon, lapwing, magpie, koufompekatsino (deaf-woodcock), snipe, starithra, wigeon. In winter, every single duck is hunted: pochard, oystercatcher, papini, mallards, garganey, tufted duck, coot chouliaropapia, psalidonoura.
The wide variety of habitats - including the hunting wealth of our prefecture - is capable of attracting hunters from other parts of Greece, which own 20% - 30% of daily hunting trips that happen in the prefecture.
In each case, it is required to protect the balance of the ecosystem by limiting hunting activity, in strictly defined zones.