The sacred grove network of Epirus, Northern Greece, is a wide socio-ecological systems spread throughout the mountains and the valleys of northern Greece, a region, in which almost every village had his own communal forest, managed by the local communities for the supply of forestry goods and services to the use and consume of the village.
A sacred grove is a forested natural area that holds special spiritual and/or religious meaning to local people and communities. Management practices, religious conservation status and their validation throughout the years have protected these magnificent ecosystems which are nowadays characterized by a surprising number of large veteran trees (from oaks to pines, from limes to beeches!)The THALIS project, in which I am involved, has the specific aim of investigating these peculiar systems, as to understand the socio-ecological role they play for local communities, for the local biodiversity and for their importance as a world distinct ecosystem as a whole. Unfortunately, these days such network is deteriorated, as local management practices are fainting due to economical and societal changes and demographic decline of the rural areas. In addition secondary forestry infilling obstacle their boundaries and could pose a threat to the long term survival of the delicate veteran trees.
My aim in THALIS is to investigate how those social forces interact with the ecological one, and how they contributed to create such ecosystems and how they will evolve in the future. My work is based on understanding the current ecological structure of the forests, by performing forestry inventories, understanding past dynamics through ring dating, and the socio cultural phenomenon using available social and anthropological data collected by the other researchers.
At the moment we are puzzled by this dilemma: what should we do? Should we let nature take his course accepting that some of the veteran managed trees will eventually die, or should we recreate back this delicate socio-ecological system, by promoting local traditional management practices?
A difficult and complex question to answer indeed..
What I can say personally is that sacred groves intrinsic value is the combined works of nature and of man, which together shaped it in the magnificent area as we can see it today. Our job as scientists is to work towards that aim, preserving the delicate balance between human and nature, safeguarding traditional management practices, and transmit the sacred grove to the next generation.
Text, photo and video are submitted by Valentino Marini Govigli (Greece) – valentino.mgovigli(at)gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
This post is published as an application by the author, to speak as a youth representative at the World Forestry Congress. Have a look at the other entries too!
As a reader, you can support this speaker’s entry:
- Leave a comment on this project in the field at the bottom of this page
- Support the post by clicking the “Like” button below
- Spread this post via your social media channels, using the two hashtags: #Forests2015 #Youth
The first tier selection of speakers will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each entry gets.