Municipality of Paranesti
It is the easternmore Municipality of the Prefecture of Drama and covers an area of 788,934 km2. The Municipality is seated at Paranesti, which is situated at a distance of 39 km from the town of Drama. It extends on a large mountain area, which makes it the second most extended Municipality in Greece, and Nestos river flows through the largest part of it. According to the 2001 census, the sparse population of 1,646 inhabitants lives in 20 settlements scattered all over the area of the Municipality.
The largest part of the population consists of Greek refugees of Pontus that settled in the area between 1921 and 1923. In summer, the population grows up to 1,800 people. Since the mid 1950?s, the inhabitants share their life between the woods and city; they spend summer in the villages working in the woods and they move to the town of Drama in winter.
Paranesti has been a populous area since antiquity and the homeland of many historic Thracian tribes like the Persians, whom Pausanias called the Thracians of Nestos. This tribe was forced to abandon the area of Pieria at Olympus and settled at the shores of Nestos river, at the coast of the Pierian bay of Kavala and at the slopes of mounts Lekani and Falakro, to the north. The area of Paranesti was also inhabited by the Romans and the Byzantines, as it can be attested by the tombs with rich grave goods, installations and other monuments uncovered in the area, yet most of them plundered. The area experienced hard times during the Bulgarian occupation of the years 1941-1944, when many civilians were killed. Now most of the settlements have their own cultural and educational societies and some of them run their own dancing groups.
Various cultural and history-related events take place in the settlements of the Municipality throughout the year. The region of Paranesti is full of forests considered as some of the most valuable forest ecosystems in Greece. There are forests of deciduous trees, coniferous trees, small forests, turf and wet greenland areas. These forests are of great aesthetic delight for visitors. There are many special places like the area of the virgin forest of Fraktos with the waterfalls, the surrounding area of the settlement of Prasinada, Megalo Livadi, Arkoudorema, Stravorema, Diavolorema, Aghia Barbara. There are also important biotopes, which are protected areas like the area of Fraktos and the virgin forest of Paranesti. There are two wildlife refuges in the Municipality of Paranesti: the virgin forest of Paranesti extending in an area of 53,122 km2 and Aetorachi that covers an area of 32,500 km2. The waterfalls of Trachoni ? Dipotamoi are distinguishable as they reach a height of almost 40 m, being the highest in the Balkans.
The Municipality of Paranesti, a green corner in Greece, is of great environmental and ecological importance.