Prefecture of Evros: Natural Environment
The terrain of the prefecture is flat to a great extend. The plains cover 2,578 sq. km, the semi-mountainous 1,240 sq. km and the mountainous 424 sq. km. The west coastline is almost straight, whereas the east coastline continues the smooth line up to the Evros Delta, where it becomes irregular, with indented recesses and projections, bays, lagoons and promontories. The island of Samothrace is elliptical and Mt Saos, one of the tallest in the Aegean, rises in the centre at an altitude of 1,664 m. The mountain range of East Rhodope ends in south Evros. The Evros river flows across the prefecture, being also the natural boundary of Greece. Other important rivers are the river Ardas and the river Erythropotamos, both flowing into the Evros river. Extensive fertile plains lie among the rivers.
Dense forests of oak and beech trees cover the greatest part of the prefecture. The pine forest of Dadia grows near Soufli.
The geographical location of the prefecture and the morphology of its terrain, in combination with the climate and the mild human intervention led to the existence of a significant variety of biotopes, among the most important in Europe. The flora and the fauna include rare species, many of which are under extinction. The Forest of Dadia and the Evros Delta are protected natural reserves according to the Greek laws.
The area Avanta-Kirki is a natural reserve for many mammals, like the deer and the wolf. Moreover, this great variety, combined with the warm climate, creates perfect conditions for many reptiles and insects. The Forest of Dadia is one of the most important European biotopes for predatory birds. Some of those species live in the forest throughout the year, other stay during migration and about 20 species nest in the forests of the wider area. It is the only forest where all four species of European vultures live: the Gyps fulvus, the black vulture, the Neophron Perchopterus and the gypaetus barbatus.
The Evros River, natural boundary between Greece and Bulgaria (to the north) and Turkey (to the East) is 530 km long, 230 km flowing through Greece. It is the second biggest in Balkan after the Danube, springs in the mountain range of Rila in Bulgaria and flows into the Thracian Sea. The Evros has a rich variety of fish and tributaries of great ecological importance, while the proximity to Mt Rhodope resulted in the creation of unique habitats with rare flora and fauna. The tributaries of Evros are the Adras river, which flows in the area of Trigono in the north of the prefecture and the Erythropotamos river, which flows through the city of Didymoteicho, as well as Diavolorema, Camelopotamos and Megalo Rema.
The Evros Delta, one of the most significant in Europe, is recognised as an international wetland (International Ramsar Convention, 1971). Furthermore, the Delta is characterized as a Special Protection Area (according to Directives 79/409/EEC and the Barcelona Convention 1977) and an animal reserve, where many rare or under extinction species live.
The Delta was formed by the deposits and the interaction between the river's water and the sea currents. On the estuary of Evros River in the Thracian Sea small islets, dunes, lagoons, lakes with fresh water, swamps and marshes of salt water has been created. The bird fauna includes the 304 species of the 422 bird species recorded in Greece. The habitat of the Evros Delta is a natural biotope providing food and shelter for many species (heron, cormorant, seagulls, predatory etc.), a reserve for large populations of birds which winter here. The flora of the area is also very important, including tamarisks and a dense forest of poplar trees, willow trees, bushes, elm trees, climbing plants and reeds growing along the river.
Unfortunately, the biotope has been constantly deteriorating due to human activities, which have caused a rise in the salinity of the water. Other threats are the uncontrolled and illegal poaching, animal browsing, drainage, illegal constructions and burning of the reeds. The immediate result is a decline both in the variety of the recorded species and the number of population.
Samothrace is an island of exquisite natural beauty. The wild untouched nature with steep mountains, the great variety of plants and animals, the forests of plane trees, pine trees, chestnut trees and cedars, the water springs, the waterfalls, the small lakes along the streams running down the hillsides and the beautiful beaches create a unique ecosystem. The forests of plane trees grow almost on the beaches of Samothrace, reaching the sea. The sea around the island houses sea and underwater life that renders it one of the wealthiest in the Mediterranean.
The climate of the prefecture is mixed. The climate in the southern areas, towards the coastal zone, is temperate with mild winters and cool summers. In the northern part it is continental, with cold winters and warm summers. In the island of Samothrace, snowfalls are frequent due to Mt Saos.