Pro Silva Annual Meeting 2013

"Close to Nature Forestry in Northern Greece"

8th - 13th October 2013 - Thessaloniki (Greece)


The Pro Silva 2013 Annual Meeting was held in Thessaloniki in Greece and was hosted by the Hellenic Forestry Society under the auspices of Professors Theocharis Zagas and Elias Voulgaridis from the Faculty of Forestry and Natural Environment at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Our colleague Nikolaos Grigoriadis has worked extremely hard to ensure that we will share field visits and indoor lectures between our two forestry associations. This will be both a historic and a fruitful union between the Hellenic Forestry Society and Pro Silva.

The history of Greek involvement with Pro Silva is a long one. It goes back to 1989 in Slovenia, at the declaration of Robanov Kot, when two individuals from Greece, Spiros Dafis and Pavlos Smiris, were amongst the original signatories at the foundation of our organisation.

During the course of this meeting, Pro Silva are being given the opportunity to gain a unique insight into the challenges faced by Greek foresters in response to the extreme climatic and environmental conditions that are impacting on their forests and on the whole country. Pro Silva will, I am sure, respond and offer solutions for greater robustness and resilience of forests so that they can adapt to change while still protecting nature and the environment as well as supporting communities that depend on timber for their livelihoods.

This meeting is a great opportunity for the members of these two important organisations to share each other’s ideas and to exchange knowledge and experience. Pro Silva has a very wide international knowledge base that is getting wider now that PS USA is a member of our organisation; Robert Perschel has come a long way to be at this meeting. With a wider perspective we will discover that we have first hand knowledge within our association of very similar or equivalent events impacting on climates and economies taking place in different continents. Rather than discussing principles we may be able to provide more precise and practical solutions to specific problems. Some of the challenges facing forests in Greece could well have parallels in Arizona or Southern California.

I very much hope that all who attend the meeting between the Hellenic Forestry Society and Pro Silva in Thessaloniki will gain enormously from this very special and exciting moment and that, as a result, our two organisations will form a lasting bond.

Phil Morgan, president Pro Silva


The 2013 annual meeting was held between October 8th and Sunday 13th October in Thessaloniki in the north of Greece. The intensive excursion programme lead to several very contrasted excursion sites around Thessaloniki:

The Pro Silva Annual Meeting started with a joint session within the Congress of the Hellenic Forest Society which hosted about 300 people from 6th to 9th October. The evening session of the first day gave several presentations in English language, whereas the others were hold in Greece.

Greek Forestry Society:                                                                               

The Hellenic Forestry Society will hold their Congress in Thessaloniki from the 6th October to 9th October. The title of the congress is: "Conservation and management of the Greek forests in the light of the economic crisis and the challenge of close-to-nature forestry". This will be an opportunity for the Hellenic Forestry Society (HFS or GFA) and Pro Silva Europe to interact and for an exchange of views. The timing and the theme of the joint meeting is significant because of the unprecedented economic turmoil in Europe and across the World that is being most cruelly felt in Greece. The Pro Silva delegates will be invited to attend a joint session (part of the HFS Congress) on the afternoon of 8th October.

On Wednesday 9th October we started with a joint field visit to the National Park at Mount Olympus at Pieria (Olympus Mt.). On a downhill walk through a canyon we could see Eu-Mediterranean Vegetation: evergreen broadleaves, deciduous and black pine forests

  • Multipurpose use: amenity, charcoal wood production, protection for biodiversity (Natura 2000 site) etc.
  • Wild fires, urbanization, agriculture, climate change and adaptation.

In the afternoon the excursion was continued visiting the Kastania forest (private foresrty), mostly coppice oak forest.

On Thursday, 10th October we travelled north west to Pella, in the Voras Mountains to see Para- and Oro-Mediterranean Vegetation with deciduous forests (oak, beech, black pine forests) and the thematic points of

  • coppice forests, coppice under conversion and high forests, biodiversity production (Natura 2000 site)
  • overgrazing, changes in land use (agriculture), overuse (illegal logging).

On Friday, 11th October we started with a 2 ½ day trip to Chalkidiki (costal forests and Holomon Mt.) with Eu- Para- and Oro-Mediterranean Vegetation: from costal forests (Aleppo pine) with understorey of evergreen broadleaves in Kassandra peninsula to the oak and beech forests of Taxiarchs-University Forest.

  • Multipurpose use: recreation, resin, honey, charcoal production, shipyarding, wood production, biodiversity production (Natura 2000 site)
  • Forest protection (fire management), land use changes and overgrazing

The Faculty of Forestry and Natural Environment of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki hosted the field visits in Chalkidiki and kindly offered an overnight stay at the Taxiarchis field station.

On Saturday, 12th October we travelled a long way north east to the region of Drama into the Greek Rhodopes with Oro-Mediterranean and cold conifer vegetation: beech-fire forests, spruce, birch and Scots pine forests, moorland

  • Wood production, biodiversity protection (Natura 2000 sites)
  • Selection system, shelter-wood, climate change and adaptation

We spend the night the Elatia Forest Village high up in the Rhodope Mountains near the border to Bulgaria. The forest village was a former military camp, which gave a special flair. After a short night we left early in the morning at sunrise back to the Airport in Thessaloniki.

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