The meeting on alder forests of Andros Island that was co-organized by the Environmental education center of Korthi, the LIFE Andros Park project and the Association of Volunteer Firefighters of Andros, was successfully held on Tuesday 11 of June.
The general introduction for the Natura 2000 sites of Andros, which cover almost half of the island, demonstrating the islands’ value for the protection of biodiversity at local and European level, and the LIFE projects implemented on the island and the connection among them, was followed by a “tour” to the forests of Andros and especially the alder forests.
The various types of forests of Andros Island, predominantly remnants of former forests that existed on the island, were presented. Particular reference was made to the alder forests, which are also the subject of the LIFE Andros Park project. They are directly connected to the presence of waters and are found along streams in many areas of Andros Island, from the sea level to high altitudes of the central mountain range of Kouvaras. Andros Island is the southeast limit of their distribution in Europe. Alders are broad-leaved trees whose fruits resemble cones, with obovate leaves. They usually reach 10-25 meters and have a relatively short life span – comparatively with the centuries-old plane trees – rarely exceeding 100 years.
A presentation about the mushrooms of Andros Island, especially those found in alder forests and clusters and show remarkable variety, followed. The mushroom species associated with alders either feed on dead tree wood, with the most impressive of them growing on the trunks of dead or old trees, or are symbionts with living alders by establishing a mutually beneficial relationship, which contributes significantly to the health and strength of the trees.
Concerning the threats they face, the case of the alder forest at Vori and the riparian clusters along the mouth of the stream at Lefka was revealing. The previous, repeated wildfires at the upstream were presented in detail with data by the Association of Volunteer Firefighters of Andros. They were the main cause of the enormous destruction – both at Vori and Lefka – which occurred after the intense rainfall of 2012. Once again, the decisive role of vegetation in the prevention of floods, the preservation of soils, especially on slopes, and the indirect consequences of its loss due to wildfires, was stressed.
Finally, the actions implemented by the LIFE Andros Park project to address the key threats of the alder forests of Andros Island, including targeted reforestation, by transplantation of new saplings inoculated with symbiotic microorganisms, and small scale anti-flood and anti-erosion actions and actions to tackle uncontrolled grazing, were presented.
We thank those who attended the meeting and we suggest you, in case you haven’t visited yet the alder forests of Andros Islands, to do so, especially now that they provide a cool spot on the island!