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Tzoumerka wildlife

Mount Athamania (Tzoumerka) and Peristeri are important wildlife areas, now protected as a designated national park.  More detailed information in English can be found here.    We quote for your convenience:

“The examined area mainly lies in the northeastern part of the Prefecture of Arta and is the natural boundary between Ipeiros and Thessalia regions. It is one of the longest and most remote part of the southern Pindos mountain range. From a geological point of view, Ori Athamanon mountains belong to the Olonos-Pindos zone and their main substrate is limestone with sporadic appearance of flysch. They consist of a continuous ridge with a NW-SE direction, and the highest peak is that of Katafidi at 2393 m altitude. The mountain slopes are crossed by many springs and small streams. The main stream is known as “Rema tis Kranias” and under the name of Melissourgiotikos, flows into the river Kallaritikos which is one of the Arachtos river tributaries. Two attractive waterfalls also occur in the area, one near Katarraktis village and the other near the village of Theodoriana. Two grassy plateaux, are also on the eastern side of Mt. Tzoumerka, named Epano Kostelata and Kato Kostelata, are used by the locals as pastures. In the past the Ori Athamanon mountains were densely forested, however, in recent years they have suffered from irrational deforestation due to excessive wood-cutting, tree-felling and grazing. For this reason extensive bare places occur in the area. Despite this, however, we can still find well-forested slopes with coniferous forests (where Taxus baccata exists in small stands or as isolated trees) and broad-leaved deciduous forests.

The remote area of the Tzoumerka mountains has a very rich and interesting flora which comprises rare and characteristic species of the mountain and alpine vegetation zones.The species Solenanthus albanicus occurring in the area is mentioned in Annex II of the 92/43/EEC Directive and in the Bern Convention and is very rare in Greece possibly because it grows in intensely grazed areas. A significant number of endemic taxa are present in the area, listed in sections 3.3 and 3.4 with motivation D, some of which are local endemics and others are considered threatened. Of them, Achillea absinthoides, Corydalis parnassica, Seseli parnassicum and Sesleria vaginalis are listed in the Greek Presidential Decree 67/1981 as protected species. Achillea absinthoides is also included in the WCMC Plants Database and in the UNEP as “Rare”, Seseli parnassicum is also included in the WCMC PLants Database as “Rare” and Centaurea triamularia is listed in the European Red List of Globally Threatened Animals and Plants as “Rare”. The plant taxa listed in sections 3.3 and 3.4 with motivation D belong to the categories outlined below: a) The “Balkan Peninsula and Italy” element, represented by Erigeron epiroticus, Hieracium naegelianum, Gnaphalium hoppeanum, Senecio scopoli and Saxifraga rotundifolia subsp. taygetea; b) The “Balkan Peninsula and Anatolia” element, represented by Aethionema saxatile subsp. oreophilum, Carduus tmoleus, Dianthus viscidus, Euphorbia glabriflora, Geranium macrostylum, Ornithogalum oligophyllum, Saxifraga sempervivum, Thymus longicaulis subsp. chaubardii and T. thracicus; c) Taxa occurring in Greece and Anatolia: Galium incanum subsp. incanum and Pimpinella tragium subsp. polyclada; d) Taxa with interesting distribution areas: Sideritis perfoliata subsp. perfoliata, extending from NW Anatolia through W and S Anatolia to Syria, with a few disjunct populations in Greece, which additionally receives motivation D since it is included in the WCMC Plants Database as “Rare”; Barbarea sicula, occurring in Greece, Italy and Sicily, also listed in the WCMC Plants Database as “Vulnerable” in Greece; Amelanchier cretica, occurring in Greece and Sicily; Saxifraga adscendens subsp. parnassica distributed in the S Balkan peninsula, Italy and Sicily, Peucedanum longifolium occurring in the Balkan peninsula and C. Romania; e) Balkan endemics: all the remaining taxa, constituting a large element in the area. Six of them, Arenaria conferta subsp. serpentini, Stachys recta subsp. baldaccii, Campanula hawkinsiana, C. tymphaea, Centaurea epirota and Hieracium waldsteinii, in Greece occur only on Pindhos mountain range. Aesculus hippocastanum, Campanula hawkinsiana and Galium degenii additionally receive motivation D since they are protected by the Greek Presidential Decree 67/1981. The last is also listed in the WCMC Plants Database as “Rare”; f) We must also mention five taxa which are rare and scattered in Greece: Ophioglossum vulgatum, Scorzonera purpurea subsp. rosea, Sedum atratum, Aster alpinus and Sempervivum marmoreum (=S. reginae-amaliae). The last is listed in the Greek Presidential Decree 67/1981. Additionally, Pinguicula crystallina subsp. hirtiflora (=P. hirtiflora) is included in the Bern Convention and listed in section 3.4 with motivation C, Digitalis ferruginea subsp. ferruginea (section 3.4, motivation D) is scattered in Greece. One amphibian and one reptilian species recorded in this site are named in Annex II of the Directive 92/43/EEC (section 3.2). The small viper Vipera ursinii is a mountain snake with a fragmented area of distribution in northern and central Greece; it usually forms loose, isolated populations and is considered a threatened species mentioned in the Greek Red Data Book as a “Rare”. Both species of this category also appear in the Bern Convention lists. Fourteen more vertebrates other than birds are known from this site as Other and Greek Important taxa (sections 3.3 and 3.4). Two of these taxa, the wolf Canis lupus and the forest dormouse, Dryomys nitedula wingei are threatened taxa in Greece mentioned in the Greek Red Data Book under the categories “Vulnerable” and “Rare”, respectively. It should be reminded that Canis lupus is a prority species of Annex II of the Directive 92/43/EEC, but in the case of the Greek populations this status concerns only those living south of the 39o (degrees) parallel. This is the reason that this species is not listed in section 3.2. The wolf occurrence in the area is nearly continuous. All thirteen taxa are mentioned in the Bern Convention lists (motivation C) and most of them (the exceptions being the viper Vipera ammodytes and the large mammals Canis lupus, Martes foina and Meles meles. are also listed in the Appendices of the Greek Presidential Decree 67/1981 (motivation D). The only exception to this is the hare Lepus europaeus which is marked with motivation D because it is rare all over Greece. Apart from being mentioned by the Presidential Decree, the lizard Podarcis erhardii, the snake Coluber gemonensis, the dormice Glis glis pindicus and Dryomys nitedula wingei, are allocated motivation D since they are all Balkan endemic taxa. The invertebrate species listed in section 3.3 and 3.4 with motivation D are protected by the Greek Presidential Decree 67/1981(Agabus bipustulatus), and the IUCN Red List (Carabus arcadicus). Parnassius mnemosyne is protected by the Bern Convention. Saturnia pyri is protected by the IUCN Red List and the European Red List of Globally Threatened Animals and Plants and it is included in the “Listing of biotopes in Europe according to their significance for invertebrates”.

The Ori Athamanon mountains are already greatly deforested due to intense tree-felling, as forestry is one of the human activities in the area. Today, cattle-raising is the principal occupation of the locals and is the cause of the existing extensive bare places. Intensive grazing is the main threat to the rare plants of the area. Furthermore, cultivation of citrus and olive trees has very much reduced the existing broad-leaved deciduous zone. It is important for forestry activities to be carried out carefully in order to cause as limited disturbance as possible to the woodland animals habitats, especially that of the wolf. Hunting also has an indirect pressure on the wolf since it exterminates much of its prey. Grazing causes serious damage to the habitats of the rare viper Vipera ursinii, whose the local population is one of the few recorded in Greece. Isolated Greek populations of Vipera ursinii are the southernmost in Europe.
This site partially overlaps with three game refuges according to the FEK 452/B/85 and the 494/T.B.85.
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