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Follow the migration trails of Greece and discover our protected wetland habitats

Nature enthusiasts will certainly be astonished by the rich and diversified Greek landscape (ecosystems of Mediterranean, Central European and Scandinavian type) and the pristine natural beauty of terrestrial and wetland ecosystems. Alongside visiting the ecosystems, tourists can take the chance to participate in activities that do not harm the environment, such as “bird watching”, a mild and environmentally-friendly tourism activity aiming at the study and protection of various bird species. Through participation eco travellers are expected to increase their awareness and concern for ecological issues and continue to act in an environmentally conscious way.

Greece, thanks to its rich landscape variety, its striking natural contrasts and areas of great ecological value, is a great pole of attraction for many bird species. In spite of the human involvement, Greek ecosystems still maintain their pristine beauty. About 407 bird species have been recorded in Greece; some of them nestle here, others winter or some others use the wetlands as an intermediate stop for rest and food during their migratory flights. Greece has today about 400 large and small wetlands with a total area of 210.000 ha (518.921, 30 a).

Axios-Loudias-Aliakmonas Estuaries National Park, consisting of the Deltas of Axios and Aliakmonas rivers and the estuaries of the Gallikos and Loudias rivers, is a large wetland system with a total surface of around 320 sq. km. Its rich variety of ecological conditions makes the area an ideal habitat for many species of wild animals and plants. More than 270 bird species find shelter in the wetland, many of which are rare or threatened: glossy ibises, black-headed gulls, pygmy cormorants and avocets are only a few, whereas the forest of Axios hosts one of the most important heron colonies in Europe. The area is among the most vital migration routes and stay sites of Europe; thousands of birds stop over in order to rest and feed before continuing their journey.

Breathtaking Dadia Forest spreads across a series of forest hills that are part of Rodopi mountainous complex. The entire protected area is known as “Evros Mountain” and has a total surface of 7.250 hectares (17.915, 14 acres). Dadia Forest is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia near the eastern migratory route of various species of avifauna. There have been recorded 219 species of avifauna; it is rather impressive that Dadia Forest is one of the most important refuges of many birds of prey. The Eurasian black vulture is the emblem of the biotope. The white-tailed eagle (haliaeetus albicilla) –the rarest predatory bird in Greece– still nests in this area as does the Imperial Eagle (aquila heliaca) and the Lesser Spotted Eagle (aquila pomarina) as well.

Follow an extensive network of multi-user paths throughout the forest, take in the amazing scenery with oak or pine trees and colourful birds singing, observe the predatory birds in the Bird Observatories or watch them eat in the bird feeders, and feel more than ever close to nature! Without a doubt, an excursion at Dadia Forest offers a refreshing, relaxing and enjoyable break from everyday routine which heightens all your senses!

Kerkini lakeKerkini Lake, a wetland of world-wide importance, situated south of the Greek-Bulgarian borders in Serres Prefecture, is a rare example of human intervention: the delicate balance of the ecosystem was regained offering great benefits to the region. Fed by the Strymon River –which springs on Mount Vitosa in Bulgaria and flows into the lake before continuing its journey to the Aegean sea–, nestled picturesquely in the middle of separate mountain ranges (Beles, Dissoro, Mavrovouni), Lake Kerkini is an unexplored wonderland of beauty and remarkable biological diversity.

Lake Kerkini is one of the top European bird watching destinations. About 300 bird species have been observed here: some of them nestle, others winter and others stop over for rest or food. Cormorants, little egrets, night herons, spoonbills, black terns, white storks and peregrines are some of the species that the visitor has the possibility to observe in the mudflats and marshes. In the area around the lake, you can trace the greatest number of buffalos in Greece. The emblem and main attraction of this biotope, however, is the Dalmatian Pelican –the largest of the pelicans–, since Kerkini is the most important wintering place for these birds throughout Europe.

During your visit, get the chance to participate in various outdoor activities that will refresh your mind and soothe your soul: go on a romantic boat ride (with traditional boats called “plaves”), and observe – at a safe distance from the birds– the special constructed platforms where pelicans nestle. Go canoeing, horseback riding or even walking in the footpaths of the area’s mountain range and enjoy the undulating scenery! Kerkini is waiting for you!

More information at:
World Wildlife Fund www.wwf.gr
Greek Biotope-Wetland Centre www.ekby.gr
Hellenic Ornithological Society www.ornithologiki.gr

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