SPA Forest Dadia-Soufli

DASOS DADIA-SOUFLI Special Protected Area (SPA GR1110002)

The National Park of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli is located in the center of Evros region and in the fingertips of the Rhodopi Mountain. It consists of low forested hills with plenty of small valleys and few agricultural lands. It belongs to the Soufli municipality.

Dadia map
Landscape and biodiversity
The Dadia forest is situated on a low altitude zone (10 to 640 m asl) and the dominant topographical feature of the park is a network of low hills and chains of hills, generally of moderate slopes, separated by valleys containing temporary streams.
The National Park is dominated by woodlands. More than 70% of the area is covered by oak and pine forest either in pure or in mixed condition. The rest of the area is agricultural land (15%), openings (9%) and villages/roads (3%).
The mosaic of habitats and the low exploitation of natural resources have contributed to the high biodiversity of the area, where unique and rare species of flora and fauna occur. During the last 20 years important number of flora and fauna species recorded and studied in the area and is consisted: ca 360-400 species of plants, including 25 orchids, 104 butterflies making it one of the 10 prime butterfly areas in Greece, 12-13 amphibians and 29 reptiles making it one of the highest reptiles’ densities area in Europe. Sixty to sixty five mammal species were found in the area, 24 of which are bats and most of them endangered species. Moreover, at least 17 fish species and at least 371 invertebrate species have been recorded. Totally 203 birds species (breeding: 132) have been recorded among them 36 diurnal and 7 nocturnal raptorial species.

Raptors are of particular interest, not only because of the high number of species found in the National Park and especially inside the project area, but also because of the large populations of some of them. The Lesser Spotted Eagle and the Short-toed Eagle occur in larger populations compared to other parts of Greece, while the Black Vulture population constitutes the last breeding colony in Greece and the Balkan Peninsula over the past 2 decades. A large population of Black Stork is also present in the area. Recently, Dadia NP is the stronghold of Egyptian Vulture population in Thrace as well in whole Greece even though during the last decade, the population was decreased from 8-10 pairs to 4-5 pairs.

Dadia cliff 
Characteristic forest landscape (WWF/G. Azoridis)

Small scale agriculture, free-grazing stock-breeding, forestry with selective loggings, ecotourism and nature protection are the main local activities that affect positively on the status of habitats and landscape. Raptors favored by the extensive mature forests to nest and the farmland and grassland to forage. However the low number of stock-breeders and farmers cannot preserve a habitat mosaic throughout the extension of the National Park except of the areas around the few villages. Forest raptorial species are dominant than the large raptors which prefer sparse forests and grassland. 

Dadia farmland 
Traditional farmland around Dadia village (WWF/D. Skartsi)
The dense forests dominated by pine trees are vulnerable to forest fires which can be very destructive because of high temperatures and drought prevailing in the summer. Although the number of stock breeders was stabilized the last 30 years, an abandonment of livestock breeding has recently recorded and is thought to be one of the major future threats. The aging of farmers, the depreciation of the profession among young people because of difficulty and social standard of living, and the low incomes of farmers in relation to the past are some of the causes of abandonment. The illegal use of poisoned baits to control foxes or to solve competition issues among the owners of hunting dogs and sheepdogs is one threat that appears from time to time and affects to the vultures’ and large raptors’ populations. This activity is more controlled inside the borders of the National Park in contrary to the adjacent regions.
Conservation status
Dadia Forest was declared as Protected Area in 1980 with two core zones and a buffer zone. In 2006, the conservation status was improved and Dadia Forest was declared as National Park keeping the same area of c. 42,800 ha where 7,800 ha are included in the strict protection zone. 

Dadia small farmlad
Small scale farmland near Dadia village (WWF/B. Carcamo)

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