Prefecture of Drama: Natural Environment
The landscape of the prefecture of Drama is dominated by the extensive and most impressive forests, which are also the focal point for many activities. The Nestos flows in the prefecture and along with the artificial lakes define a route of rare natural beauty. The northern part consists of the mountain range of Central Rhodope with its highest peak Partheno Dasos rising at 1,953 m. Mt Phalakro, where the ski center is also located, lies in the central and southern area of the prefecture. Its highest peak "Prophetes Helias" rises at an altitude of 2,232 m, while other summits are Vardena at 2,194 m and Hionotrypa at 2,111 m. To the south and the west lie the mountains Menikio and Orvilos. River Aggitis, tributary of the Strymon, runs through the south and lowland region where the springs Voiranis, Drama and Mylopotamos are to be found as well.
The mountainous regions are characterised by humid continental climate, whereas the plains by Mediterranean climate with June to September being the dry months and the remaining mild. In lowland the mean daily temperature often exceeds 30 °C, with extreme temperature values of 35 °C and 40 °C during daytime. In winter the mean monthly air temperature is above 0 °C, although extreme values reaching -14 °C or even as low as -20 °C at Kato Nevrokopi during daytime have been occasionally observed. During the winter months there is heavy rainfall while storms occur in summer.
The prefecture of Drama has all the characteristic Greek vegetation zones, whereas the flora of the region boasts more than 1000 species, including some unique ones to Greece. This variety is the result of the location and the geo-morphology, the climate, the soil and the geological history of the area. The vegetation to the west, north and east regions includes forests of holly up to an altitude of 400 m, as well as species of hornbeam, dogwood, elm, briar shrubs etc. Forests of deciduous oaks, including forests of chestnut and linden trees, thrive at the higher altitudes, up to 800 m, and in mountainous and semi-mountainous areas. The acorns and the nuts of those trees provide food for the wild animals, thus preserving the fauna of the area. The forests of beech and conifers are to be found at higher altitudes, including the distinctive species of the black pine. Moreover, there are forests of conifers surviving low temperatures at the altitude of 1000-1950 m, which are considered rare. The dominant species are conifers such as picea and pinus sylvestris, although the species common in beech forests grow as well.
The gradual reduction of animal husbandry and the final abandoning of all intensive human activities in the region led to the natural reforestation and the flourishing of an extremely rich in population and variant in species fauna.
More than 150 bird species live in the prefecture, most of which are protected by a European Union directive. In addition, the wider area of the prefecture is the habitat of at least 32 species of mammals, most of which rare in Greece and Europe, such as the bear, the deer, the chamois, the roe deer, the golden eagle and the black grouse, which has been recorded only in the Virgin Forest of Frakto. Moreover, the populations of Capercaillie and Hazel Grouse in Central Rhodope are the only significant gatherings in Greece. The birds Woodcock and Pygmy Owl are reproduced only in this region, whereas the species Tengmalm's owl, which nests in very few mountain forests in Greece, maintains substantial population in Drama. A small number of wild cats, wild goats and wild boars also live in the forest of Frakto. The variety of habitats preserves game in great numbers, thus attracting many hunters. However, restrictions on hunting in strictly defined zones ensure the protection of the balance of the ecosystem.