Pindos National Park, GreecePilot Areas
Northern Pindos National Park was established in 1966 and is considered one of the most important protected areas for the conservation of mountain biodiversity and ecosystem integrity on a national level. Pindos is located on the Northwestern part of Greece. It extends in an area of 1,969,741 m2 and is the largest protected forested region in Greece.
The special ecological value of Northern Pindos National Park, which is recognized globaly, arises from the fact that within its limits two National Forests are enclosed: the National Forest of Pindos (Valia Calda) and the Vikos- Aoos National Forest. Apart from the two National Forests the protected area includes eleven areas listed in the European Network of Protected Areas as “NATURA 2000” sites.
The Park is managed as “Environmental Park” and “Wildlife Resource” since it is home to a large number of interesting species of flora and fauna that display high diversity. Moreover, the woodland forms a unique aesthetic landscape. The park is an important habitat for wildlife, both in total number of species and in numbers of endangered and protected species. The area hosts more than 1800 plant species, 180 birds and 60 mammals; among them a large number of rare, endemic and endangered species.
A total of 68 villages exist within the area of the Northern Pindos National Park and 14 on its boundaries. Zagori constitutes a unity of 46 settlements with unique architecture, which are protected as traditional settlements. Konitsa was an important trading center of the broader area and Metsovo was an important trading, financial, spiritual and cultural center during the Ottoman Empire. Many historic figures and national benefactors originated from Metsovo. The mountainous Vlach’s villages (Vlachochoria) were renowned for their textile and jewellery craftsmanship, as well as for being a cultural and education center. The villages of Kopatsarei, which are located in the valley of Aliakmonas River got their name from the Vlach word “cupaci” (plural of “cupaciu”), which means oak tree.
In the area, there are also 80 stone bridges constructed between the 18th and 19th century. Most of them are pieces of art, along with old hostels, watermills and shrines which are frequently found around the area, comprising unique structural incentives for hiking. Moreover, numerous monasteries with remarkable architecture, wall paintings (hagiography) and wood sculptures are scattered throughout the area of the Park and are mainly located in places with spectacular view.