High up in Greece’s Pindus Mountains

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Greece

A traditional arched stone bridge in the Zagori area. Greece.
© WWF Greece / George Vellidis

Summary

The Pindus Mountains in northern Greece contain some of the country’s highest peaks, including Mt Smolikas, the country’s second tallest mountain after Mt Olympus, and are home to a number of species such as brown bear, wolf and jackal. Illegal logging, road construction, ski facilities and mountain tourism, however, threaten extensive forest areas.

The Papingo Information Centre, established by WWF and the local community, is monitoring the threats and educating visitors about the region’s unique biodiversity. The centre also supports a number of conservation projects and promotes ecotourism.

Background

Northern Pindos includes 2 national parks (Vikos-Aoos and Valia Kalda/Northern Pindos) and the mountainous forest areas around them. The main values of the area are: extremely beautiful landscapes, the most diverse mosaic of forest types, the Zagori group of 45 villages of traditional architecture, the most complete alpine zone animal community, almost all rare and threatened big mammals in Greece, over 1000 species of plants with some endemic ones.

While WWF Greece had acknowledged the importance of the area for quite some time, little concrete action on the part of the organisation had been taken to engage in the Northern Pindos. In part, this could be explained by the absence of an appropriate "entry point" into such a large and demanding area and also the difficulty in finding the appropriate project leader for this challenge. The president of the traditional community of Papigo, a village within the area, offered WWF the opportunity to use the old school of the village and asked the organisation to establish a visitor centre here, following Prespa’s model. WWF staff made 2 visits to the village and relevant contacts were made. At the same time, a biologist originating from the area expressed his will to collaborate with WWF for a local project. These 2 events created the necessary prerequisites for a WWF involvement in the area.

Objectives

Overall objective

Conserve the threatened natural values of the Northern Pindos through the active participation of local people through capacity building activities.

Specific objectives

- Contribute to the effective conservation of the Northern Pindos National Park.

- Increase local involvement in nature conservation.

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