GEOGRAPHY AND MOUNTAINS
FLORA AND FAUNA
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Geography - Flora and Fauna - Maps
GEOGRAPHY, MOUNTAINS, LAKES, RIVERS & LAND USE
The Prefecture of Ioannina is one of the four prefectures of Epirus. It is bordered by the prefectures of Kozani and Trikala to the east, Albania to the north, the prefecture of Thesprotia to the west and the prefectures of Arta and Preveza to the south. It has a total area of 4,990 km2 and a population of 158,193 inhabitants.
Its greatest part is dominated by mountain ranges, parts of which belong to the Pindos spine. The Pindos range forms the border between Epirus, Macedonia and Thessaly. It starts with Mount Grammos ( 2,520 m ) on the border of Epirus with Western Macedonia and Albania . Further south is Mount Smolikas ( 2,637 m ), the second highest mountain in Greece . To the southeast, Mount Vasilitsa ( 2,249 m ) overlooks Macedonia . The range continues southward with Mount Gamila or Timfi
( 2,497 m ). Between Smolikas and Gamila, just above the city of Konitsa , Mount Trapezitsa ( 2,021 m ) is found. To the east of Gamila, a horseshoe-shaped group of mountains known as Lingos or Eastern Pindos ( 2,177 m ) is located, and south of Gamila, above the lake of Ioannina, stands Mount Mitsikeli ( 1,810 m ). The southern Pindos range includes Peristeri or Lakmos ( 2,295 m ), Kakarditsa ( 2,393 m ) and Tzoumerka ( 2,393 m ). A lower mountain, not belonging to the range is Tomaros or Olytsikas ( 1,816 m ).
Most of these mountains are made of limestone and flysch that favour the creation of curious geological formations and caves, as well as other karstic phenomena such as the Provatina precipice, near Papigo and the Perama cave , near Ioannina.
Among the mountain ranges lie small fertile plains, long and narrow valleys, and steep ravines, such as the Aoos gorge and the impressive Vikos ravine.
The Ioannina basin, the ancient Ellopia, with its lake Pamvotida occupies the central segment of the prefecture. The Pamvotida is almost 7,5 km long, 5 km wide and its depth varies from 3 to 9 m. In the past, the lake occupied the northwestern part of the basin as well (the Lampsista lake-swamp), that was drained and given to agriculture. Some other smaller lakes are Zaravina
( on the way to Delvinaki ), the artificial Aoos lake, on the Metsovo mountains and Drakolimni on Timfi, 2,100 m above sea level. Most of these lakes, as well as the rivers of the region, are exploited for trout production in 60 units producing 1,200 tons of fish annually. Most of these units have their own reproduction facilities, while the rest are supplied from the fish-cultivation unit of the river Louros. Water from the lake Zaravina is used for the irrigation of nearby land. Exploitation of the water resources of the prefecture is limited by the pollution of lake Pamvotida and the decrease of rainfall during 1989-1992.
The Arachtos, Aoos, Voidomatis, Kalamas, Louros and Acherondas rivers, as well as many torrents flow through almost the entire Prefecture of Ioannina . Arachtos, one of the longest rivers in Epirus , 143 km, is formed by numerous streams which flow from the Zagori villages, Metsovo, Mount Peristeri , Mount Kakarditsa and the Tzoumerka Mountains , and pours into Amvrakikos Bay . Four tributaries, Zagoritikos, Vardas, Metsovitikos and Kallaritikos drain into Arachtos. The Aoos, whose source is north of Metsovo, flows westward through the Smolika and Gamila mountains ( Aoos gorge ) and emerges in the plain of Konitsa. After 68 km in Greek territorry it enters Albania , to drain into the Adriatic . Sarandaporos, one of its tributaries, has its source in the Grammos mountains and joins Aoos on the Greek-Albanian border. Voidomatis, whose source is in the Vikos gorge, flows into the Aoos in the plain of Konitsa. The river Louros flows from the Louros springs, near the city of Ioannina . Kalamas ( 113 km ), the ancient Thyamis, flows from north of Ioannina into the Ionian Sea .
PRINCIPAL CATEGORIES OF LAND USE IN THE PREFECTURE OF IOANNINA IN 1981 (expressed in % )
Agricultural holdings 9.16, Grassland 53.90, Forests 29.82, Surface waters 2.15, Urban settlements 3.30, Other 1.67.
Source : Regional Job Markets, A study of the region of Epirus .
The flora of Ioannina region is closely related to the flora of neighbouring southern Albania . Its Rarest species occupy, mostly the mountain areas. Many of them are indegenous to Epirus or even a single mountain.
Rich riverside forests with plane- and willow-trees abound in the region.
The lowlands of Ioannina are dominated by a shrub known as the ‘ Mediterranean Maquis ', consiting of Kerm Oak ( Quercus cocifera ), Mock Privet ( Phllirea latifolia ), Holm Oak ( Quercus ilex ), Strawberrytree ( Arbutus unendo ) and other species of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and small trees.
The low mountain slopes are rich in bushy vegetation, mainly holm-oaks and arbutus. At altitudes between 700 m and 1,800 m, there are mixed forests of deciduous trees such as beech, various species of maple, Silver Lime ( Tilia Tomentosa ), Hornebeam, Hophornebeam and conifers such as Black pine ( Pinus nigra ) and Macedonian fir ( Abies borissiregis ). At altitudes over 1,800 m. grasslands and Balcan pines ( Pinus leucodermis ) dominate the landscape.
On Mount Smolikas , we find the local species Cerastium smolicanum, Centaurea ptarmiefolia and Aubrieta glabreens . Indegenous to Mount Gamila are Silene intonsa, Lithosurm goulandriorum and Miartia pseudosaxifraga . The local species, Centaurea pawlovskii, is found in the Vikos gorge and the Centaurea vlachorum species in Valia Kalda. There are two species indigenous to the peaks of Grammos, Theum vlachorum and Ligustim rhizomaticum , while Dactylorrhiza kalopissi grows in the mountains of Metsovo.
The region's flora includes more than 1,800 plant species, many of which are Rare and endemic.
Some rare plants which grow in the mountains are Telekia speciosa, Viola albanica, Viola dukadjinica, Silene pindicola, Campanula hawnsiana, Peucedanum stridii, Alyssum smolicanum, Pinicula balcanica, Crocus rortianus, Thlaspi epirotum, Centaurea epirota, Ramonda serbica, Soldanella pindicola, Bornmuerella tymphaea Bornmuerella baldacii, Dactulorisa saccifera, Primula veris, Crocus veluchensis, Solenanthus albanicum and Centaura vlachorum.
Finally, we must not fail to mention the lilly species of Ioannina, all of rare beauty, such as the Pindos Yellow Lilly ( Lillium albanicum ), the red Lillium chalcedonicum , the purple Lillium martagon and the Madonna Lilly ( Lillium candidum ), which grow in the forests and gorges of the mountains of the area.
The mountain configuration and the fine flora offer an excellent environment for the development of a rich fauna. In the thick, wild forests, many species of animals and birds, which disappeared from the rest of Greece years ago, survive today.
The Bear ( Ursus arctos ) , one of the Rarest members of Greek and European fauna in general, still lives in the mountains of Northern Pindos, even though its natural habitats are continually being destroyed. It is estimated that in all of Greece , there are, approximately, 80-100 bears, of which about two thirds live in the Pindus range.
Another extremely Rare animal is the Lynx ( Lynx lynx ). It was believed to have diasappeared from the area until its tracks were sighted a few years ago in the greater area of Vikos-Aoos N.P. and Valia Kalda N.P.
At one time, there were many deer ( Cervus elaphus ), but they have been killed by hunters. However, the Roe deer
( Capreolus capreolus ) still survives, as does the Wild boar ( Sus scrofa ).
The Otter ( Lutra lutra ) lives in the rivers of the area. Its biggest enemies are dirty water and the disturbance of the natural equilibrium of the rivers by pesticides, dams etc. On the precipitous heights and in the gorges of the mountains lives yet another Rare animal, the Chamois ( Rupicapra rupicapra ). The mountains of Gamila, Smolikas, Grammos etc. currently support very small populations, which are in danger of disappearing due to poaching.
The Wolf ( Canis lupus ), once common throughout the mountains, is now quite Rare due to ruthless hunting and the use of poisoned baits by the sheperds to protect their livestock.
Common members of the mammalian fauna are the Fox ( Vulpes vulpes ), the Marten ( Martes foina ), the Squirrel ( Sciurus vulgaris ), the Hare ( Lepus europaeus or capensis ) and the Hedgehog ( Erinaceus concolor ). Smaller mammals include the Mole ( Talpa caeca ), Shrews ( Sorex minutus, Suncus etruscus, Crocidua suaveolens etc. ), the Dormouse( Glis glis ), the Forest Dormouse ( Dryomys nitedula ) and various species of mice and bats.
Many Rare bird species inhabit the mountains and wetlands of Ioannina.
In the mountains, we find Rare birds of prey, such as the Vulture ( Gyps fulvus ), the Golden eagle ( Aquila chrysaetus ), the Lammergeier ( Gypaetus barbatus ), the Egyptian vulture ( Neophron Perncopterus ) and the Booted eagle ( Hieraetus
The mountains are home, too, to eight species of Woodpecker, among them the extremely Rare Black woodpecker
( Dryocopus martius ). Other Rare species are the Wallcreeper ( Tichodroma muraria ), Dipper ( Cinclus cinclus ), Rock thrush ( Monticola saxatillis ), Golden oriole ( Oriolus oriolus ), Snow finch ( Montifringila nivalis ), Crosbill ( Loxia curvirostra ), Bullfinch ( Pyrrhula pyrrhula ), Shore lark ( Eremophila alpestris ), Alpine swift ( Apus melba ) and the Eagle owl ( Bubo bubo ).
In the wetlands we encounter gulls, wild ducks, storks, herons ( Ardea cinerea, Egretta garzetta ) and cormorants
( Phalacrocorax carbo ) .
For the protection of this rich flora and fauna two National Parks, those of Vikos-Aoos and Valia Kalda-Pindus, have been created, in the Prefecture of Ioannina .
The Vikos-Aoos National Park is located in the northeastern tip of the Pindos range and includes the Vikos ravine, the Aoos gorge and the Timfi mountain range. The variation and great contrasts of landscape where the steep gorges are followed by serene mountain slopes and the bare rocks by green forest is typical of the region's geographic features. The Zagori traditional settlements and the picturesque villages of Konitsa are harmoniously combined with the morphology of the region. Many of the Rarest species of the Greek fauna, predatory birds and animals such as the bear , wolves, chamois find refuge here. Ten species of amphibians are also registered, the most important of which is the Alpine newt ( Triturus alpestris ) , in the Drakolimni habitat, as well as twenty species of reptiles, one lizard( Algyroides nigropunctatus ) being the most characteristic.
The Valia Kalda-Pindus National park, situated at the border of the prefectures of Ioannina and Grevena is considered one of the most notable in Europe, where more than 80 species of birds such as the Golden eagle ( Aquila chrysaetus ), Imperial eagle
( Aquila heliaca ), Lanner falcon ( Falco biarmicus ), Dipper ( Cinclus cinclus ), 8 species of woodpeckers including the Three-toed woodpecker ( Picoides tridactylus ), Middle spotted woodpecker ( Dendrocopos medius ), and the Black woodpecker ( Dryocopus martius ) find refuge; some of the Rarest mammals, such as the Brown bear ( Ursus arctus ), the Lynx ( Lynx lynx ), the Chamois ( Rupicapra rupicapra ) and the Otter ( Lutra lutra ), which are nearly extinct elsewhere, can survive here. Its flora is rich with numerous endemic plants of the Balkans registered, one of which is the Centaurea vlachorum . Black pine tree forests, some of which may be more than 700 years old, are also found in the Park.
SOME NOTES ON THE BREEDING BIRD SPECIES OF THE AREA
Mount Grammos : Honey buzzard ( Pernis apivorus ), Egyptian vulture ( Neophron perncopterus ), Griffon vulture ( Gypsfulvus ), Short-toed eagle ( Circaetus gallicus ), Golden eagle ( Aquila chrysaetos ), Rock partridge ( Alectoris graeca ),
Grey-headed woodpecker ( Picus canus ), Middle spotted woodpecker ( Dendrocopos medius ), a species of Flycatcher
( Ficedula semitorquata ), Chough ( Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax ), Capercaillie ( Tetrao urogallus ), Tengmalm's owl
( Aegolius funereus ) and - probably - a species of Grouse ( Bonasa bonasia ).
Mount Timfi or Gamila - Mount Smolikas : White stork ( Ciconia ciconia ), Honey buzzard ( Pernis apivorus , 1-5 pairs ),
Lammergeier ( Gypaetus barbatus , 1 pair ), Egyptian vulture ( Neophron perncopterus , 10+ pairs ), Short-toed eagle
( Circaetus gallicus , 4-10 pairs ), Golden eagle ( Aquila chrysaetos , 1-4 pairs ), Booted eagle ( Hieraeetus pennatus ),
Lanner falcon ( Falco biarmicus , 1 pair ), Peregrine ( Falco peregrinus ), Kingfisher ( Alcedo atthis ), Black woodpecker
( Dryocopus martius ), Middle spotted woodpecker ( Dendrocopos medius ), White-backed woodpecker ( Dendrocopos leucotos ), Chough ( Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax ).
Oreokastro, Delvinaki lake, Meropi forest, Gormos Valley : Honey buzzard ( Pernis apivorus ), Egyptian vulture ( Neophron perncopterus ), Levant sparrowhawk ( Accipiter brevipes ), Lesser spotted eagle ( Aquila pomarina ) , Golden eagle
( Aquila chrysaetos ), Booted eagle ( Hieraaetus pennatus ), Middle spotted woodpecker ( Dendrocopos medius ).
Central Zagori : Black stork ( Ciconia nigra ), Honey buzzard ( Pernis apivorus ), Egyptian vulture ( Neophron perncopterus ), Short-toed eagle ( Circaetus gallicus ), Golden eagle ( Aquila chrysaetos ), Middle spotted woodpecker
( Dendrocopos medius ) and Kingfisher ( Alcedo atthis ).
Tzoumerka or Athamanika Mountains : Egyptian vulture ( Neophron perncopterus ), Griffon vulture ( Gyps fulvus ),
- probably - Lammergeier ( Gypaetus barbatus ), Middle spotted woodpecker ( Dendrocopos medius ) and Chough
( Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax ).
A LIST OF THE THREATENED VERTEBRATES IN THE PREFECTURE OF IOANNINA
Note : The list is not complete.
1. Salmo trutta /Trout. Native species with 4 sub-species in Greece . Rare and Vulnerable . In the rivers Arachtos, Louros, Kalamas, Aoos, Voidomatis, tributaries of Sarandaporos.
2. Phoxinellus pleurobipunctatus . Native endemic species. Locally Vulnerable . In the rivers Arachtos, Louros, Kalamas.
3. Rutilus ylikiensis Stephanidis . Endemic species. Locally threatened . Probably in the river Louros, has been introduced in lake Pamvotida .
4. Pachychilon pictus . Endemic species of northwestern Greece , Albania and southern Yugoslavia . Locally threatened . In the river Aoos.
5. Phoxinellus pleurobipunctatus . threatened . In lake Pamvotida .
6. Paraphoxinus epiroticus . Endemic species in Epirus and lake Prespa . Locally threatened . In lake Pamvotis and – probably – in the river Louros.
7. Chondrostoma vardarensis . Endemic species of Greece , southern Yugoslavia and Bulgaria . Locally threatened . In the river Aoos.
8. Barbus albanicus. Endemic species. Locally threatened . In the rivers Arachtos, Kalamas and in lake Pamvotida .
9. Barbus peloponnesius peloponnesius . Locally Vulnerable and threatened . In the rivers Louros, Kalamas, Arachtos and – probably – in Aoos.
10. Alburnoides bipunctatus ohridanus . Locally threatened . In the river Aoos.
11. Orthrias pindus. Endemic in the river Aoos. Locally threatened .
12. Cobitis hellenica arahthosensis . Endemic in the rivers Louros and Arachtos. Locally Vulnerable .
Amphibians and reptiles :
Vipera ursinii. Rare . On Mount Lakmos or Peristeri and – probably – in other areas of northern Pindus.
1. Ciconia nigra /Black stork. Endagered . A few pairs.
2. Aquila clanga/ Spotted Eagle. Endagered .
3. Neophron perncopterus/ Egyptian Vulture. Vulnerable .
4. Aquila pomarina/ Lesser Spotted Eagle. Vulnerable . A few scattered pairs.
5. Aquila chrysaetos/ Golden Eagle . Vulnerable .
6. Coracias garrulus/ Roller. Vulnerable .
7. Picus canus/ Grey-headed woodpecker. Rare .
1. Ursus arctos/ Brown Bear. Endagered .
2. Lynx lynx/ Lynx. Endagered .
3. Canis lupus/ Wolf. Vulnerable .
4. Lutra lutra/ Otter. Vulnerable .
5. Capreolus capreolus/ Roe Deer . Vulnerable .
6. Dryomys nitedulla/ Forest dormouse. Rare .
7. Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica/ Chamois . Rare .
8. Pipistrellus pipistrellus/ Pipistrelle. Endagered .
9. Pipistrellus savi/ Savi's pipistrelle i. Endagered .
10. Rhinolophus hipposideros ramnus/ Lesser horseshoe bat. Vulnerable.
11. Nyctalus noctula/ Noctule. Endagered .
- Important areas for the birds of Greece by the Hellenic Ornithological Society ( in Greek )
- Epirus : Basic features by the Egnatia-Epirus Foundation
- Ioannina by T.C.T.I.D. ( Town Corporation for the Tourist Development of Ioannina )
- The Red Data Book of Threatened Vertebrates of Greece by the Hellenic Zoological Society & the Hellenic Ornithological Society.
- Haritakis Papaioannou, Biologist.
FOR MORE IMAGES AND INFORMATION ON :
Animals in general : http://www.best5.net/animal/
Greek mountains : http://www.oreivatein.gr/page/mountains/e_mounts_c.htm
Greek nature and Nature Protection Societies : http://www.ariadne-t.gr/ARIADNE_WEB/users/users.html
Greek birds : http://www.nature.ariadne-t.gr/nature/ornithology/ornithology.html
Greek caves : //ucaswww.mcm.uc.edu/geology/huff/Greek_Caves.html
( You can also view some images of the area from space by clicking HERE , - explanations are in Greek, though - )
Epirus in Greece
Greece in E.U.
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