The protected area
The protected area of mount Parnon and Moustos wetland can rightly be characterized as a botanical paradise with great ecological value, as it is estimated that it hosts about 1.000 species and subspecies of plants, 84 of which are endemic, endangered, rare and protected that spread in the wider region of Parnon. Also, 12 of the 80 protected by legislation as rare species of orchids of Greece can be found in the area, well hidden amongst the limestone and brushwood.
In the region of mount Parnon there are more than 15 types of habitat some of which are unique or particularly noteworthy for Greece and the Europe. The extensive woodlands of Pinus nigra are included in priority habitat type *9530 "(Sub-) Mediterranean pine forests with endemic black pines" included in the Annex I of Directive 92/43/EEC. The same Annex includes, priority habitat type *1150 "Coastal lagoons", priority habitat type *9560 "Endemic forests with Juniperus spp." and priority habitat type *6230 "Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)". Also important habitat areas are the thermophilic oak forests of Eastern Mediterranean and Balkan area, the Greek briar woods and Greek fir forests (Abies cephalonica).
Parnon apart from its outstanding botanical importance is particularly rich in species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, insects and other invertebrates. More specifically, so far there have been recorded 21 endemic, endangered, rare and protected species of invertebrates, 24 amphibians and reptiles species, 2 fish fauna species and 13 mammals species (with specially important species, such as the otter and the golden jackal). About 42 endangered and strictly protected bird species are hosted permanently or seasonally at Moustos lagoon.
Mount Parnon was famous, from "the old times", for its high mountains which apart from their aesthetic value they are equally important habitats that shelter a lot of different rare species of plants and animals. Mount Parnon extends along the southeastern Peloponnese.
"Parnonas" is an ancient name that means "Bright Mountain". The etymology of the name associated with the root Parnu-(parna) is prohellenic. It comes from the same root as the mounts of Parnitha and Parnassos. The first reports of the mountain have been found in scripts of Strabonas and Pausanias. The mountain is also known as "Malevos" or "Mount Cronion'', the sacred mountain of Saturn. The first traces of human presence in the region date from discoveries of the Neolithic times.
Parnon's relief contains more than ten peaks that exceed a height of 1.500m, with the highest named "Megali Tourla" that reaches altitude of 1.934m. The flora wealth is rare ... So far there have been recorded 113 rare plants, 12 of which are local endemic; 86 are regional endemic; and 11 are rare in Greece, withthe unique forest of Juniperus drupaceae in Malevi area and Thalictrum sp., which is found only in Parnon for Europe.
Juniperus drupaceae forest
Juniperus drupacea, the Syrian Juniper, is a species of juniper native to the eastern Mediterranean region from southern Turkey, western Syria, and Lebanon to mount Parnon, growing on rocky sites from 800-1.700m altitude. In mount Parnon can be found in a 740 acres forest, at an altitude of 800 to 1.000 meters in the vicinity of the monastery of Malevi, in Agios Petros area of the Municipality of Northern Kynouria. Its rarity gives great ecological and scientific value and therefore it is protected by national and EU legislation.
Juniperus drupacea forest is protected according to the Presidential Degree P.D. 67/81 and it is included in Annex I of Directive 92/43/EEC as a priority habitat type. The areas of Mount Parnon summits and Malevi monastery are included in the European Ecological Network of Natura 2000 as Special Protected Areas (code: GR 2520006). According to FEK 121D/1980 has been declared as "Preserved Monument of Nature".
According to the Joint Ministerial Decision No33999 (FEK 353/6.9.2010), as amended (under the JMDs FEK 160/16.6.2011 and FEK 126/15.4.2013), it has been proclaimed as an Absolute Nature Protection Area (2.Ι: Forest of Juniperus drupacea at Malevi Monastery).
Wetlands' functions and values
The significance of an individual wetland, is characterized by its inner functions. As functions are defined, the sum of the natural, chemical and biological processes that take place in the wetland. These processes result from the combinational interactions among the structural elements of the wetland (soil, water, vegetation etc) as well as among the wetland and his surrounding environment, especially the wetland basin. The number of functions and their relative importance differ from one to another.
Functions of Moustos wetland are diverse and include among other the enrichment of aquifers, formation of sediments, absorption of toxic substances, modification of flooding, as well as the removal and transformation of nutrients.
Values of Moustos wetland include biological diversity (biological value), pasturage of rural animals (stockbreeding value), protection from floods (flood-preventing value), improvement of water quality, improvement of microclimate, and other such as scientific research and education, recreational.
Moustos lagoon is a remarkable example of biodiversity and a recreation sight for visitors. Water, vegetation and the coastal location of Moustos lagoon attract remarkable fauna. It is the main area for waterfowl wintering in eastern Peloponnese and is especially valuable for wintering and migration of waterfowl,raptors and passerine birds as it is in the migration corridor of the eastern coast of Greece. Many of the species recorded are listed in Annex I of Directive 79/409/EE. There have also been recordings of many reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and fish in Moustos lagoon and its adjacent ditches.
The area is important for the presence of otters, which constitute a secluded but viable population. Otters are considered as a strictly protected species live solitary in rivers, lakes and swamps. They use the coastline areas as feeding sites and move between small or bigger wetlands. The otter in Greece is regarded as a top predator of aquatic systems. It is mainly nocturnal.
The golden jackal, a species threatened with extinction in Greece, is also found in the area of Moustos and the surrounding lowland areas. Its population in Greece is estimated to consist of no more than 170 packs of 3-7 individuals. The golden jackal is the largest carnivorous mammal in the Peloponnese, where the number of packs recorded is greater than anywhere else in Greece. It is a secretive species that is rather shy towards humans, active mainly during the night and often identified only by its characteristic howling. It is an omnivorous and scavenger species, mainly occupying areas of low altitude.
Moustos wetland is included in the European Ecological Network of Natura 2000 as a Special Protected Area (code: GR 2520003)* according to the Directive 92/43/EEC .
Regarding national legislation, Moustos wetland has been proclaimed as a Wildlife refuge (FEK 329/Β/28-03-2001), as an Absolute Nature Protection Area (2.ΙΙ of the JMD No 33999) and as a Nature Protection Area (4.1. of the JMD No 33999).
Environmental Information Centers
Environmental Information Centers of the Management Body can be visited during week days and on Sundays and holidays for scheduled guided visits of individual visitors or schools in the framework of environmental education programs. The centers aim at visitors' acquaintance with the protected area and the sensitive natural ecosystems, in order to realize that nature involves a part of their life and that it has to be preserved for future generations.
The Environmental Information Center of Astros is located on one of the two main entrances in the region of Parnon (seaside entrance from Nafplion) and informs visitors on mount Parnon with an emphasis on the Moustos wetland. The guided visit in the Center can be combined with a tour in the protected area, thematically selected presentations and activities such as hiking in trails of the protected area and educational activities concerning the acquaintance with nature.
The Environmental Information Center of Agios Petros is located on one of the two main entrances in mount Parnon (south entrance from Tripolis and Sparta, seaside entrance of Astros through Nafpion, and Southeast of Peloponnese through Leonidion) and informs visitors about mount Parnon with an emphasis on the mountain section. The center's theme is about endemic and rare flora and fauna of mount Parnon. The guided visit in the Center can be combined with a tour in a selected mountain trail of the protected area.
The Information Center of Kastanitsa is located within mount Parnon, closely to Arcadia and Laconia prefecture borders and it’s mainly theme is the use of mountain ecosystems by humans and their influence on animals and plants. It is located in the old Elementary school of the village. The guided visit in the Center can be combined with a walk in the traditional settlement, the ruins of the old byzantine tower of Kapsampelis that is situated in the north part of the village, and a tour in a selected mountain trail of the extensive chestnut forest near the village that covers an area of 4,500 ha and is famous for its natural beauty.
It is worth mentioning that the settlement of Kastanitsa is designated as a Landscape of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whilst the Ministry of Culture since 1967 has proclaimed it as a Traditional Preserved Settlement of great natural beauty and architecture.
Contact information for all three Centers:
Department of Information, Education & Publicity
Management Body of Mount Parnon & Moustos Wetland
Astros Arcadia, Postal Code 22001
Tel.: +3027550 22021, Fax: +3027550 22025
Useful information about the area Parnon – Moustos
Parnon area, not only rich in legends and traditions, extensive forests, rare plants, animals and important habitats, but also in monasteries, castles, old mills and historic villages, is one of the characteristic areas in Greece that nature and man coexist harmoniously since prehistoric times. The rare combination of sea and mountain are in wonderful harmony, composing landscapes of incomparable natural beauty. Human presence in the area has left indelible traces on the landscape throughout the years. Furthermore highlighting the areas value are the numerous archaeological sites, historical settlements, fountains and bridges.
An important part of the Parnon area is the Tsakonia region, ie the area inhabited by Tsakonians. This area includes several villages such as Prastos (historic capital of Tsakonia), Kastanitsa, Sitaina, Melana, Palaiochora, Leonidio, Agios Andreas and Tyros. The tsakonic dialect is the only modern Greek dialect that derives from the ancient Doric dialect, according to experts opinion.
The annual movement of people was another main feature of most villages in Parnon area until recently. Locals moved from late March until October to mountainous areas, while they stayed for the rest of the season in the lowlands. Examples of such movements also exist in some other parts of Greece, but not as extensive as in Parnon.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that the combination of natural elements (habitats, flora and fauna) and human environment (historical, archaeological monuments, traditional villages and traditional activities) compose the unique character of the area and offers the potential to become major attraction of special interest tourism.