The diachronic role of mount Parnon's ecosystem in society, economy and environment

The 21st of March which coincides with the beginning of spring solstice, ie the first day of spring, has been established as World Forestry Day by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) whose goal is the scientific and sustainable management and utilization of forest ecosystems and the natural environment.

The Forest Complex of Parnon occupies the slopes of the massif Parnon with orientation from north to south at an imaginary ridge formed by the tops "Malevos", "Kouros", "Stravorachi", "Geranochoma", "Kamares", "Psari", "Maderi"'. The central massif is dominated by the tall forests of Abies cephallonica and Pinus nigra and part of the zone of mountain pine paramesogeion (sub-alpine mountain) with the coexisting species of Juniperus drupacea in pure stands in Agios Vasileios, Palaiochori, Platanaki and Agios Petros (Absolute Protection Area of Juniperus drupaceae forest in Malevi Monastery).

The forest ecosystem of Parnon forms a suitable and of high quality, environment for humans and other living creatures, performing many interrelated social, economic and environmental functions. Provides jobs, income and raw materials, such as fuel wood, resin, fruits, as well as valuable technical timber for various uses (construction, pallets, poles etc), with main centers for the consumption of these products Sparta, Tripoli and Athens. Additionally other important productive activities are developed in this, such as quarrying, mining (mainly marble), livestock, with sheep flocks in the pastures transported to Parnon during the summer, beekeeping where beekeepers place their hives in forest to produce the famous pine honey and the production of Christmas trees from chestnut and private plantations in Kastanitsa and Palaiochori. Offers, however, and other invaluable services related for example to soil protection from erosion. It is recognized that the forest reduces the average annual runoff by 10-20% and acts regulatory on the "floodwaters" by reducing flood up to 60%! It also offers services related to the protection of human settlements and infrastructure; regulate the supply of freshwater, forest recreation, conservation and protection of biodiversity and wildlife.

Closely linked to the concept of the forest is the medical, spiritual and psychic effects offered in a modern society such as urban centers.

The forests of Parnon with pure and mixed stands of black pine and Greek fir, the rare for Greece Juniperus drupacea, the chestnut trees and the unique landscape of Parnon characterized by smooth terrain, the particular geological features (caves etc.) and many springs, the rich flora and fauna, coupled with the existence of mountain settlements since ancient times, offering the visitor, and local resident calmness, relaxation, enjoyment, providing positive mental and spiritual effect.

The black pine (Pinus nigra) forests [priority habitat type *9530 “(Sub-) Mediterranean pine forests with endemic black pines” included in the Annex I of Directive 92/43/EEC] suffered during the summer of the year 2007 from devastating wildfires that caused significant losses to several Mediterranean ecosystems. The burnt areas of the above mentioned habitat type represent the southernmost stands of the species on mount Parnon, one of the drier areas of Greece and Europe, as well. The LIFE+ PINUS project “Restoration of Pinus nigra forests on Mount Parnonas (GR2520006) through a structured approach” addresses the need to restore this habitat type with the demonstration of the application of a structured, scientifically robust step-by-step approach, in order to plan accurately and restore effectively the burnt by the recent fires priority habitat type *9530. An area of 2,900 acres of burnt black pine forest in Agrianoi, Polydroso has already been reforested under the LIFE + PINUS project is implemented by the Goulandris Natural History Museum/Greek Biotope - Wetland Centre in cooperation with the Decentralised Administration of the Peloponnese - Western Greece & Ionian Sea, the Decentralised Administration of Macedonia - Thrace and the Management Body of Mount Parnon and Moustos Wetland.

The evolution of black pine forest, which is the result of intensive human intervention, teaches us that actions aimed at the protection of forest ecosystems through its human workforce with higher forestry education are the only ones that can guarantee better quality of life for citizens and safeguarding forests of our region for future generations in good condition.

So let's make this day, the starting point for collective reflection, meditation and awareness of the role of forests for the survival of mankind.

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