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Expected results

  for the forests and the landscape of The Holy Mountain

All expected results of the project concern its main action which is the selective-inversion thinning of an area of 500 ha of coppice forests with Hungarian oak and Holm oak. In particular is expected:

Improvement of ecosystem function and increase of biodiversity

After each thinning the favoured trees will grow faster. This will cause an increase in the diversity of tree diameters of the forests since favoured trees will reach greater diameters faster. Some reduction of the canopy which will be caused by selective-inversion thinnings will be quickly restored by the faster growing favoured trees.

These changes in the structure of the forest ecosystem will make more light available to the understorey vegetation, which is expected to enhance floristic diversity and abundance. Apart from the influence of light penetration, an increase in the mean temperature is expected which will foster the decomposition of dead organic matter. Both these results are expected to increase soil biodiversity. Additionally, the opening of the canopy will increase available space for macrofauna which is expected to be further favoured by the increased biomass of the understorey vegetation and the increased production of seeds from the trees, especially acorns.

Reduction of wildfire risk

Selective-inversion thinnings will contribute to the reduction of wildfire risk and will make easier fire-fighting if such a fire occurs. The reduction of wildfire risk is due to the reduction of the extremely flammable wood debris on the ground. Wood debris is one of the causes, which can drive a ground fire to crown fire. Reduction of wood debris will come as a result of higher decomposition rate of dead biomass, fostered by the higher temperature and light availability. Additionally, the reduction in trunk density and the tree-growth rate of trees will reduce the density of climbing plants such as Smilax aspera, another pave of a ground fire to crown fire.

In case where a fire explodes, reduced trunk density in combination with reduced climbing plants make the movement of fire-fighters more easy and secure.

Landscape restoration

Despite the improvements that selective-inversion thinnings will bring to the ecosystems of Hungarian oak and Holm oak the most apparent result will be the gradual restoration of the ancient landscape of Mount Athos, which was characterised by old-growth high forests.

In order to reach the above results the project includes:

  • Preparatory actions, i.e. mapping of these forests, proposals about their management, scheduling of thinnings, training of monks and forest workers, and,

  • Εstablishment of a monitoring system  for the validation of the results, of the thinnings.

for the conservation of Holm oak forests in the Mediterranean

The project, apart from the rehabilitation of the forests with Hungarian oak and the Holm oak forests, aims to communicate in a wider audience the rehabilitation of these forests, and especially of the forests of Holm oak through selective-inversion thinning. Several information actions have been undertaken in this respect.

These actions use all available forms of communication with the wider public (audiovisual technology, internet and printed information) and with experts (technical studies, guide for the rehabilitation of these forests, meetings). It is expected that the variety of means and target groups contribute to dissemination of all relevant information.