Hungarian oak (Quercus frainetto) and Holm oak (Quercus ilex) forests

Despite the transformation to coppice of the majority of Hungarian oak and Holm oak forests of Mount Athos no significant impacts to their flora has been detected. However their structure has been seriously altered. These coppice forests are characterised by the absence of old-growth trees, the increased trunk density and the accumulation of wood debris on the forest floor. Coppice management progressively causes soil degradation that negatively affects forest productivity and flora composition.

It must be noted however that in some remote locations some relict of the old-growth forest can be found serving as "prototypes" for rehabilitation and restoration efforts. Additionally, some formerly coppice forests have been excluded from exploitation in order to return to their natural condition.

Hungarian oak forests cover an area of 1,014 ha and are found from the sea level to 1400 m with the largest part concentrated at the southwest section of the peninsula. The majority can be found in the areas of the Holy Monasteries of Megistis Lavras, Simonos Petras and Osiou Grigoriou. In the area of the Holy Monastery of Grigoriou some mature stands can be found in the locations of “Pigadi” and “Plagara” while in the area of the Holy Monastery of Megisti Lavra mixed and non-mixed stands can be found in the Holy Scete of Agia Anna and in the locations of “Kria Nera” and “Kerasia”. Those stands are of great interest because of their age and the fact that they have been intact for more than 100 years.

Holm oak forests cover an area of 5,621 ha and are distributed from the sea level to 1,100 m. These forests are mainly concentrated at the central eastern area of the peninsula but are also found at the western part of the peninsula at locations with north aspect. These forests in Mount Athos are characterised by their high density of climbing species such as Smilax aspera and Clematis vitalba and the low abundance of understorey species. In these forests, apart form Holm oak, several other evergreen broadleaved species can be found such as Laurus nobilis, Fraxinus ornus  and Cercis siliquastrum.

 

The distribution of the Hungarian oak and Holm oak forests is presented in Map 4.