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Valia Kalda National Park Becomes Candidate for "Model Forest"

The municipality of Grevena, in Western Macedonia, has recently submitted its candidacy for joining the International Model Forests Network (IMFN), for the designation of the Valia Kalda National Park, also known as the Pindos National Park, as a ‘Model Forest’.
Valia Kalda is a major treasure of a forest for Greece, and its inclusion on the map of the IMFN will be a boost to its sustainable management.
Grevena municipality fulfills all the conditions required for designation as a Model Forest, given that the forest covers 45 percent of the municipality’s expanse, is easily accessible from the Egnatia motorway, and contains the National Forest and the Vassilitsa ski center, while it also has a developed forestry, produces non-forest products such as the region’s famed mushrooms, organic farming and animal breeding, and numerous tourist resorts, as stated by forester Dimitris Tsimplinas.
Valia Kalda is an isolated mountainous area in the northeastern part of the Pindos mountain range. Established as a national park in 1966 and considered one of the most important protected areas for the maintenance of mountainous biodiversity and ecosystem integrity at national level, the park’s core zone covers the greatest part of the Valia Kalda valley and the slopes of the surrounding peaks.
With an elevation range from 1,076 to 2,177 meters, the National Park is characterised by dense forests of European black pine (Pinus nigra) and common beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees (in the park’s lower and middle altitudes) — some of which are more than 700 years old — rocky ridges, several peaks over 2,000 meters altitude, rapid streams and mountain lakes. At higher altitudes, Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) woodland is dominant.
A total of 415 plant types and mushroom species have been recorded in the area. A number of local flower types are considered endemic to the Balkans, such as Dianthus deltoides and Allium breviradum, while many endemic plants of central and northern Greece also grow in the park, such as Centaurea vlachorum, as well as rare species such as Minuartia baldaci, Bornmuellera tymphaea, Viola dukadjinica and Silene pindicola.
The area belongs to the wider Pindos Mountains mixed forests ecoregion, which belongs to the Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas, and is one of the three places in Greece that hosts a population of Eurasian brown bears (Ursus arctos arctos), which is a conservation priority species; the region itself is called “bear park”.
Other mammals that live in the park are lynxes, deer and wild cats, while wolves, beech martens, wild boars and red squirrels are also found in the area all year round. Additionally, the Balkan Chamois, a Balkan endemic species, is found on the steep and rocky parts of the park and in the beech forests.
The three small rivers crossing the area of the park have very clear water and are the well conserved habitat of the otter, while up to five types of bat have been reported, the most common being niktovatis (Nyctalys noctula).
The forest further provides shelter for more than 80 species of birds, including 10 types of rare bird species such as the Eastern imperial eagle, the Golden eagle, the Levant sparrohawk and the Lanner falcon, indicating the ornithological importance of the area. Other rare birds found in the park are the shore lark (Eremophilla alpestris) and the Lanius excubitor, which migrates from Africa in the summer.
Finally, the dense and mature forests host eight types of woodpecker, including the White-backed Woodpecker, the Middle Spotted Woodpecker, the Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and the Black Woodpecker.
IMFN is a voluntary association of partners from around the world working toward a common goal – the sustainable management of forest-based landscapes and natural resources. It is comprised of all member Model Forests.
Model Forests don’t just come about by themselves. The IMFN aims to inform and assist the various stakeholders and support interactions among potential partners. It is a global community of practice that converts the collective experience and lessons learned from member Model Forests into services that help new ventures begin and existing ones grow.
The IMFN’s vision is to support, through Model Forests, the management of the world’s forest resources in a sustainable manner, reflecting environmental and socio-economic issues from the perspective of local needs and global concerns. The primary goal of the IMFN is to establish a global network of Model Forests that will represent most of the major forest ecosystems of the world. We also strive to ensure that all partners, regardless of political or economic status, can contribute to, and share in, the benefits of the Network as they work toward the sustainable management of forest-based landscapes.
It’s three key objectives are: To foster international cooperation and exchange of ideas relating to the working concept of sustainable forest management; To support international cooperation in critical aspects of forest science and social science that underlie the search for new models of forest management; and To support ongoing international discussions on the criteria and principles of sustainable development.amna
As a long-term goal, the Network will serve as a foundation for international cooperation on the sustainable development of forest landscapes and natural resources all over the globe. Participating Model Forests will share their knowledge and encourage large parts of the world’s forested areas to undertake management and conservation methods that ensure their continuous benefits for humanity.
(Source: ANA – MPA)

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