SPA Kompsatou valley

Koilada Kompsatou Special Protection Area GR1130012
The Special Protected Area of Kompsatos valley is located in North East Greece, next to the border with Bulgaria. It belongs to the Iasmos municipality the nearest large village. Ruins of old small villages are found in the higher parts of the site. The Kompsatos river crosses the valley creating deep and steep slopes.

Kompsatou map

Impressive rock formations called "Thrakika Meteora" (L. Sidiropoulos)
Landscape and biodiversity
This deep valley is surrounded by hills covered with deciduous broadleaved forest (mainly mature oak forest), scrubland and grassland. In some areas of the river, important habitats are present as dense riparian forest of willows and poplars or sandbanks adjoining meadows and small fields. Many cliffs are scattered on steep slopes with the most impressive of these the Thracian Meteora. These rocky formations are important nesting habitats for raptors and vultures as well as Black Stork. Hundreds of wild horses find refuge in this valley and in conjunction with the thousands of livestock animals maintain grasslands and open forests. Wolf is present in the area and form time to time provokes damage on the livestock.

Twenty eight species of diurnal raptors have been recorded of which species of concern include White-tailed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Imperial Eagle, and Black Vulture. Their populations are restricted even though the natural food sources are abundant. Two pairs of Egyptian Vulture still exist but both of them are not productive every year.

The main human activity is livestock-breeding. In spring and summer, many shepherds are concentrated in the higher parts of the valley and the slopes are filled with livestock. In these pasturelands, oaks are mature, low trees with the characteristic shape caused by the long term pollarding or non-commercial pruning.
Intensive forest management is the other main activity and in some locations the oak forest has been replaced with coniferous plantations. Mountain climbing and hiking are a growing eco-tourist activity and an interesting network of mountain trails has been marked.
Kompsatou livelihood
Mountain meadows and extensive oak forests (L. Sidiropoulos)

The illegal use of poisoned baits both by stock farmers and hunters has a direct effect on the population of scavenger raptors, which may even result in their disappearance from the area. Intensive forest management, with the removal of mature and dead trees from forests and the replacement of mature oak forests with coniferous plantations, results in the degradation of the landscape and of raptor and forest species habitats. Overgrazing also contributes to forest degradation and soil erosion. Potential threats are the plans for the construction of a large scale dam on the River Kompsatos, and the installation of wind farms. 
Conservation status
The Kompsatos valley, is included in the networks of the Special Protected Areas, the Sites of Community Importance and the Important Bird Areas.

Kompsatou bridge 
Post-Byzantine stone arched bridge at the exit of the Kompsatos river (17th-18th century) (WWF/G. Mercier)

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