Pindus

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The Pindus (Greek: Πίνδος) mountain range is located in northern Greece. It is roughly 160 km (100 miles) long, with a maximum elevation of 2636 m (8650 ft). Because it runs along the border of Thessaly and Epirus, the Pindus range is often called the "spine of Greece".

The Pindus ecoregion covers a wide range of elevations and habitats, from deep canyons to steep mountains. The wide range in altitude results in two major forest zones. A conifer zone, with trees such as a subspecies of Austrian Pine and the endemic Greek fir, characterizes the highest elevations, with juniper woodlands dominating near the timberline. In the valleys and canyons of the middle and lower elevations, mixed broadleaf forests dominate, including many species of oak. There are many villages in the Pindus, including Samarina, boasting the highest elevation in Greece.

Wildlife

Large breeding colonies of herons, spoonbills, egrets, and pelicans fish the cool waters of the mountain lakes of the Pindus Mountain Conifer and Broadleaf Mixed Forests ecoregion. This is one of the few areas in Europe where the rare Dalmatian pelican can be found. Wolves, jackals, and bears are found in the forests.

Cause for concern

The forests of this ecoregion have faced many threats over the course of human history, including heavy livestock grazing, agriculture, and firewood collecting. The greatest threats now come from the development of mountain tourism and ski facilities. Because of the instability of the soil on steep mountains, road-building and clear-cutting operations have led to dangerous landslides and the collapse of mountain slopes. Mining for bauxite, overgrazing, and over-collection of plants are also threatening the great biodiversity of this ecoregion.

Wider geographical context

The Pindus range is the southern part of a large arc of mountain ranges spanning southeastwards from the Alps, via the Dinaric Alps, and includes the Šar-Korab massive, Pindus, Parnassos, Chelmos and the rest of Peloponnesus, having its southern extreme in Mount Taigetos. The cordillera system then continues by way of the southern Aegean islands of Kythera, Antikythera, Crete, Karpathos and Rhodes, as well as many islets around the larger islands. The mountain system comes ashore again at the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey.

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