Ecosystems of Mount Athos

Mount Athos peninsula is characterised by a great variety of ecosystems forming a mosaic which, in combination with the complex relief and the human activities, create the unique landscape of Mount Athos.

Three main groups of ecosystems can be distinguished: forests, farmland and areas with no or sparse vegetation.

Forests can be distinguished in three main zones: a) the eu-mediterranean zone of evergreen broadleaved species and Mediterranean conifers, with Pinus halepensis being the dominant pine species, b) the zone of thermophilous deciduous broadleaved species, where the dominant species is Castanea sativa, and c) the zone of mountainous Mediterranean conifers. The main factor which forms these zones is the climate but locally there are modifications introduced by geology, slope and the aspect of the ground. Of special importance are the mixed broadleaved forests located in the southern part of the peninsula.

Another important feature of the landscape are the farmplots, found mainly around the Holy Monasteries and Scetes. Several traditional varieties of agricultural products of Greece are maintained in these farmplots.

Finally, areas with sparse or no vegetation are found at the coastal zone and at the high altitudes of Mount Athos where strong winds and sea water, at the coastal zone, and low temperatures with strong wind, at the alpine locations, pose severe difficulties to plant growth.