Photographer's Note

Virgin forest of Frakto

The forest is located οn the northeastern edge of the prefecture of Drama below the highest peak of Central Rhodopi at 1,953m. It has been characterized as a virgin forest and is the only such forest in the country and considered one of the most important of its kind in Europe. 11 million square metres were recorded as virgin forest in 1979 and in 1980 it was immediately declared a natural monument worthy of protection due to its large phyto-geo-graphical, ecological and historical value.
Since then the area has been under a framework of absolute protection since no human activity apart from scientific research is permitted in the forest. It is described as virgin forest because it followed natural processes in its development and has not been disturbed by humans for at least 500 years.

By the term "virgin" we do not imply that there has never been any human presence or activity but rather that human influences have been mild and have not affected the character of the undisturbed forest ecosystem. The form of virgin forest differs from that of common forest because in virgin forest various species of broadleaved trees and conifers of different ages and heights co-exist with aged and dried out trees of great height. Visibility is low due to the dense vegetation and pas- sage is difficult due to fallen trees.

In virgin forest there is a high possibility of meeting some wild animal since their populations here are large and they are not afraid to show themselves since they have not become used to human interference.
Around this particular forest there is aprotective band of forest known as Frakto Forest. In this band the forest resembles that on Central Rhodopi and is partially protected since herding sheep and hunting are both prohibited while timber production and forest relaxation activities are permitted. The operational centre of the forest is the Frakto forest worksite which is located some 8.5km from the border of the virgin forest.

The fauna which is to be seen in the virgin forest includes a great many species with large populations of these species. The area is one of the most important Greek mountainous ecosystems with almost all species of animals living on Greek mountains being found here. The fauna that lives here has free range throughout the whole of the forest of Frakto. The forest is located at relatively high altitudes, commencing at 780rn, covering densely forested slopes and ending with the virgin forest at an altitude of 1,953m. There are many gorges, flat areas and meadows (at the upper altitudes) and these create the necessary conditions for the co-existence of many species.

In Frakto more than 100 species of birds nest and reproduce including quite a few species which are listed in the European Community Directive on species requiring special measures of protection. The forest is equally rich in mammal species. In the wider area of the forest there are at least 32 species of mammal to be found, including all the rare species to be found in Greece and Europe.

From an aesthetic point of view what makes the forest of Frakto stand out is its characteristic and unique beauty. Strong geological formations in the central section of the area together with many scree slopes give an air of harshness and wilderness to the area which is something that normal forest landscapes do not have. The stream "Achladorema" together with the other streams in the forest form six impressive waterfalls and add that other necessary aesthetic element, water. The landscape of the area contains a wealth of vegetation which with a large variety of evergreens and deciduous trees, broad-leaves and conifers provides the eye with many shades of green to enjoy while in the autumn the tones of the changing leaves are impressive.

Moreover, the existence of wild fruit-bearing trees and bushes as well as the large number of wild flowers combine to make this a truly beautiful landscape. The virgin forest, is needless to say, characterized by its virgin vegetation. The height of the tress, the structure of the forest and the density οί plants create the sense of an unfamiliar landscape for the visitor. In general and from an aesthetic point of view, the forest of Frakto is a unique natural monument, at least for the Rhodopi mountain range. The existence of the virgin forest here, the combination of geological and hydrological formations with the rich flora and fauna make this a complete forest landscape which is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Greece.

2013 - All rights reserved. The photos taken by photographer Athanasios Benisis are registered and copyrighted. Use in any form (web, paper publication, public exposure, etc.) is strictly forbidden without the written permission of the photographer. To contact with photographer please use his intro page Hellas on TrekEarth.

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Additional Photos by Athanasios Benisis (Hellas) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1202 W: 175 N: 1353] (7123)
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