Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mediterranean Wilderness Near Athens

Wilderness is a geographic concept, its not just an esoteric notion. Wilderness areas are natural-looking places, remote from modern human changes and structures that alter their authentic nature. Even ancient cultural landscapes can have wilderness attributes. Near Athens, in the southern part of Euboea  Island there is this kind of wilderness. Wild cliff coasts, rugged mountain heaths, rocky mountain ridges and gorges. These places are special not only for their biodiversity, but also for their wilderness qualities -many of these wild patches are still difficult to access, still untrodden by tourism or other developments, or dense road networks. Yet humans have lived here, and flourished on-and-off for millenia. Many authentic local elements, are evident in the natural history. These include the patchwork habitat mosaics, the endemic goat breeds, and unusual ancient trees stands - huge chestnuts and oriental planes, obviously protected by the locals since they gave materials and sustenance to the subsistence farming-shepherding communities. 

The wild Cavo D'Oro Coast on the southern part of Euboea Island. This place is about 65 Km east of Athens as the crow flies.

The unique "upright twisted-horned" breed of goat dominating the local herds in Southern Euboea. 

A Sweet Chestnut amidst the arid-looking mountain scrub. Is it a relic from another climate, an anthropogenic agro-pastoral plantation from ancient times or the last stand of nature in desertified ruined landscape?

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