Mt Olympus Biosphere Reserve - Greece

The second of the two Biosphere Reserves in Greece is Mt Olympus. Located in North-Central Greece, Mt Olympus covers an area of approximately 800km2; it is the highest mountain in Greece reaching an elevation of 2918m. In 1938 it was the first area in Greece that was declared as a National Park. In 1982, UNESCO declared Mount Olympus as a Biosphere Reserve. Today it is also part of the European Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

The landscape comprises Mediterranean shrublands, beech and oak woodlands, pine forests as well as montane grasslands and alpine areas. In the lowlands, the climate is Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and warm dry summers. At higher altitudes it resembles more a central European climate (subalpine to alpine). For approximately seven months of the year, Mt Olympus is covered in snow (from November to May). The region has a high level of precipitation throughout the year in the form of snow in the winter and rain and hail in the summer.

On the Biosphere Reserve of Mt. Olympus more than 1,700 plant species have been recorded, representing approximately 25% of all Greek flora. The site hosts 16 habitat types of the European Habitat Directive, including four priority habitat types. The fauna includes 32 species of mammals like the chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), deer (Capreolus capreolus), and wolf (Canis lupus). Also, 108 species of birds have been recorded, including species like the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) that are strictly protected under international agreements.

The main economic activity is tourism (reaching around 300,000 visitors annually). Agricultural activites also prevail in the general area. Finally the site is important for its cultural significance, traditional settlements, and sites of archaeological importance.

View from the west side of Mt. Olympus.

*Image: view from the west side of Olympus located about 10 to 15 km from Kokkinopilos village via Wiki Commons