Introduction by the Holy Community of Mount Athos

Mount Athos is vested with the responsibility to preserve Christianity’s greatest heritage over the centuries. God’s divine dispensation, which serves as the principal guide for actions taken on Athos, ordains that both the spirit and the body of the Holy Mountain be preserved. A body composed of human tasks, intended to serve the purposes of the monastic community, and of the environment which the Virgin Mary so generously ‘planted’ on the Athos peninsula. For the distinctive physiognomy of Mount Athos to be preserved, its nature must by all means be conserved; this is why the Holy Community has decided to participate in the LIFE programme, focusing on the conservation of the Athos peninsula’s forest ecosystems.

This website presents in a structured manner the steps that need to be taken to turn the area’s Hungarian and Holm oak forests into high forests. This is work requiring persistence and whose results will only be seen in the long term, but which ensures that the forest ecosystems will be preserved in an excellent state. The Holy Community and Monasteries’ decision to manage certain Hungarian and Holm oak clusters in the manner described on this website is a decision that will prove to be quite costly. This effort is thus being supported by the European Commission and the Hellenic State, who are subsidising the Athonite project. Mount Athos wishes to continue managing its forests through inversion thinnings; it is set on contributing to the conservation of the environment and hopes that it will continue to find benefactors to support these efforts.

Our sincere gratitude goes out to Spyros Dafis, Professor Emeritus at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, for his decisive contribution to the project’s implementation. We would also like to thank the Athonite monks who are entrusted with the duty of managing the forests and around whom the implementation of the LIFE programme revolves.

The Holy Community presents this website with the certainty that the “Garden of the Virgin Mary” will remain worthy of the enlightenment and protection that She who is wider than the Heavens offers all the world’s beings.