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The delta of the Maritsa River... the apotheosis of nature

09 March 2013 / 18:03:25  GRReporter
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The delta of the Maritsa River (Evros in Greek) in north eastern Greece is extremely important both for wild nature and people. It offers food and shelter to thousands of birds in all seasons of the year, and the local population uses a lot of its resources. Forests, lush meadows, reeds, ponds and other reserves create a landscape of unique beauty that enchants the visitor. Evros National Park (http://bit.ly/1483CPz), which is among the most important nature reserves in Europe, is located at the mouth of the Maritza River, between Alexandroupolis and Turkey.

The river and sea activities have formed and continue to transform the delta with its great biodiversity. It provides shelter for a significant number of plants and animals. Its total area reaches 200,000 acres, of which 95,000 (80,000 on land and 15,000 in water) are included in the list of protected areas under the International Ramsar Agreement (1971) because of the large number of animals that live there. One part of the Delta was declared an area under special protection and is part of Natura 2000.

The Maritsa River is the largest river on the Balkans and the second in Eastern Europe. It takes its source from the Rila Mountains in Bulgaria and flows between the mountains of Rhodope and Stara Planina, where a lot of feeders flow in it. In addition to the important nature reserves, the area is also important for the local population, fishery, farming, agriculture, climate, flood protection, education, entertainment and science.

Thresholds, channels, ditches and irrigation works that were carried out in the area from 1950 to 1980 have limited the freedom of waters and ensured significant areas for cultivation, and the negative consequences include the drying of Drana Lake by residents of the area in 1987.

Reserves, flora and fauna

Seven groups of biotopes can be distinguished in the Delta of the Maritsa River, each of which corresponds to a group of plants according to the interaction of various factors such as soil, microclimate, fresh or salt water. More than 300 species of plants were registered in the Delta. The banks of the river provide shelter for trees such as sycamores, poplars, alder-trees, willows, and water lilies and water chestnuts can be seen inside the channel. The meadows are home to orchids and irises and plants such as giant wild rye and sea lilies live on the banks and sand islands. However, saltwater grass is the most impressive – in the autumn, it turns red and covers the shores of the lakes.

About 40 species of mammals live in the Delta. The most common are fox, wild cat, wild boar, otter, badger, and weasel. There are 28 species of amphibians and reptiles. The most common are turtles, frogs, water snakes and lizards. The waters are home to 46 freshwater fish species, such as carp and pike, as well as saltwater ones, such as sea bream, grey mullet, and European bass.

The Delta is also very important for birds that spend the winter here and those which use it as a stopover.

The management of the National Park (http://www.evros-delta.gr/en) hosts organised visits to the protected area throughout the year which start from the Information Centre. Visits include video projections, a bus ride to the water reserve, as well as travelling by water by traditional boats. Binoculars are provided to visitors. Visitors can get information on routes and paths at the Information Centre, regarding areas that are permitted for visits by car, on foot or by bicycle.

Dadia National Park (www.dadia-np.gr) is located north of the Delta. It is also a very important reserve with its black pine and oak forests. Forests are often trespassed by small pastures or arable lands.

Tags: The delta of the Maritsa River Evros reserve flora fauna Natura 2000
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