Oak Woodland of Xeromero (Threatened!)

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.

Valonia acorns were used up until the 1970s as natural dyes around the Mediterranean, before synthetic dyes replaced them. Sadly, the trees are being illegally cut down because they are not viewed as an important part of the economy anymore. This is now a threatened area which still harbours more than 256 native plant species (recorded in 2003), including a special peony (Paeonia mascula russoi), a variety of wild orchids such as Ophrys reinholdii and Ophrys helenae, burning bush (Dictamus albus), rare rock plants and curious ruderals among others. This is also a great birdwatching area (see relevant section on Birdwatching in Aitoloakarnania). Fauna wise, orthoptera like the rare saga bush cricket and some kinds of moths like the Great Peacock Moth also abound. Reptiles and tortoises, large forest beetles near old trees and many uncharted mammals also reside in the woodland. Sadly, the Fallow Dear used to be present, as recorded by British cartographer William Martin Leake and German botanist Theodor Von Heldreich, who in the 19th century recorded its presence. In addition, the Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) is not present in this woodland anymore.


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