Prefecture of Xanthi: Natural Environment
The prefecture of Xanthi is surrounded by the West Rhodope mountain range (1,586 m) to the north, full of virgin forests and variant fauna and flora. The wetland preserves are protected by the Ramsar Treaty and have become the focal point of controlled touristic development and the subject of scientific research thanks to the flora and the bird-fauna found here. The fertile plain of Xanthi lies among the mountains, rich in agricultural production. On the Nestos Delta there are wetland biotopes, the Vistonida Lake, the lagoons of Porto Lagos, Lafre, Lafrouda, Alyki, Elos. The ecosystem of Lake Vistonida- Porto Lagos lagoon has specific features due to the great fluctuations in its salinity; the rivers Kosynthos, Kompsatos and Travos flow fresh water into the north part of the lake, while the south part is brackish due to the inflow of sea water through three canals connecting the lake with the sea.
There is a great variety in the vegetation and the fauna of the Prefecture of Xanthi. The most important wildlife reserves are Vistonida Lake and Porto Lagos lagoon as they are the habitats for many species of birds which nest, winter or pass during their emigration. The birdlife includes considerable populations of herons, flamingos, geese, swans, ducks, shearwaters, pochards, storks, grebes, ibises, cormorants, seagull et.al. The area of Vistonida-Porto Lagos is important for the wintering waterbirds which gather here in thousands and stop during their emigration. In the Nestos Delta 260 species of birds out of the 474 of the main species living in Europe find refuge. The most characteristic animal of the riparian forest of Nestos is the rare Ring-necked pheasant. Many species of mammals also live in the Delta, including the wild boar, the deer, the brown bear, the wolf, the fox, the jackal, the wild cat, the hare, the squirrel, the ferret and the otter. There is also an important assemblage of reptiles, such as tortoises, lizards and snakes. The waters of the wetlands and the rivers nourish many species of fish, for instance the striped grey mullet, the flatfish, the gilthead, the bass et.al. The climate of Xanthi is continental with rainfall, snowfall and strong north winds in winter. In summer it is warm but the cold north airstreams blowing through Kosynthos river cool the area.