Nature and Flora in Messolonghi


On the southwest tip of Mainland Greece this national park will captivate you with its lagoons, rivers, marshes, farmland, varied coastline and many little uninhabited islands that are teaming with birdlife, fauna and flora. Officially known as the National Park of Lagoons of Messlonogi-Aitoliko, Kato Rou, the Acheloos and Evinos rivers, and the Echinades Islands, the park falls under the RAMSAR convention and NATURA 2000 network, underlining its role in maintaining European biodiversity. Its notable natural attractions include:

• Dunes created by the debris of rivers and lagoons acting as a barrier against the open sea.

• Hills that were formerly part of the Echinades Islands and which the flowing action of the Acheloos River has brought ashore 

• Mount Varasova which is a wildlife reserve for game and a part of the majestic Arakynthos Mountain

• Kleisoura Gorge which is considered officially an 'area of natural beauty' and within a specially protected zone to preserve the endangered population of griffon vultures

• Fraxos Forest (near the village of Lesini) grows with laurel, silver birch trees, and creeping plants. It is home to the otter and several bird species (magpies, woodpeckers, etc.)

• Echinades islands, several of which have been joined to the mainland by alluvial deposits. These islands were the site of ancient battles and were mentioned in the writings of Homer, Thucydides and Pausanias.

Known in English literature and history as the Ambracian Gulf, this 400-square-kilometre body of water represents one of the largest wetlands in the region, and is linked to the Ionian sea by a small opening.
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The Fraxos or Fraxou forest lies close to Lesini, covers almost 58 hectares, and has been declared a Monument of Nature. In reality it is all of what remains of the dense riverside forests that used to cover the Aheloos basin.
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Also known as the sea lake of Mesolongi, this salty-water lagoon offers amazing scenic views and was formed by the sandy ridge rising from the deposits of the Acheloos and Evinos rivers, along with their deltas. A sand ridge called Louros also likes between the lake and the Gulf of Patras.
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Lying between the Panaitoliko and Arakynthos/Zygos mountains, Lake Trichonida (or Trihonida) measures around 97 kilometres square, and a maximum depth of 58 meters in some areas. Melting snow and mountain springs feed the lake through numerous streams, and too much water sometimes teams the lake up with its twin, Lysmahia. Water-loving or hydrophilic trees such as willows and plane trees are abundant around the shore of these lakes, while all sorts of birds and fish coexist harmoniously in the area. The 150 species of fish include whitebait, sand smelt or silversides, including some endemic species, 30 of which are protected by law.
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The climate and morphology of this area, including soil conditions and abundant water, has given rise to incredible flora. Forests of beech, cedar, chestnut, fir, oak and plane trees dominate these mountains, boasting 190 mushroom species (out of which 70 are edible).
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At the foothills of the Akarnanian mountains or Akarnanika between Lake Ozero, the Arheloos River and the sea, the Valonia-oak woodland covers about 6000 hectares. Surrounding the oak area on 10,000 hectares are a mix of trees, with mainly oaks but interspersed with other species.
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The Klisova lagoon is popular with scientists and researchers who want to study the region's ecosystem. The small environmental station with four beds and simple accommodation needs offers this opportunity to interested parties. The station is operated by a committee connected to the municipality of Mesolongi.
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Other Activities for Aitolo-Akarnania

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