Youth Speaker entry #35: Valentino Marini Govigli (Greece)

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!)

Measuring veteran trees in sacred groves

Measuring veteran trees in sacred groves

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)

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!

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48 thoughts on “Youth Speaker entry #35: Valentino Marini Govigli (Greece)

  1. Go go Valentino 🙂 I am sure you will be at the XIV World Forestry Congress to present your work. Good luck. I cross my fingers 🙂


  2. Il progetto è molto valido. Abbiamo bisogno di salvare ciò che di bello resta nel nostro pianeta per noi e le nuove generazioni. Grazie Valentino


  3. Molto interessante, è confortante che ci siano giovani preparati e sensibili a tematiche di assoluto rilievo. Good luck, Valentino!


  4. Bellissimo progetto!!
    C’è bisogno di gente che pensi un po’ al mondo in cui viviamo e al suo futuro….
    In bocca al lupo per il tuo progetto e per quelli futuri!!!


  5. Valentino is a really enthusiastic researcher! His multidisciplinary approach is quite important to evaluate this vulnerable eco-system and to identify sustainable management strategies according to the socio-economic development.
    Researchers like him have to be supported!
    Giuseppe Provenzano, Professor of Agricultural hydraulic and watershed protection at University of Palermo, Italy


  6. Βαλεντίνο σου ευχόμαστε να σε επιλέξουν γιατι εισαι τολμηρός και το αξίζεις


  7. Nature, science and religion. Interesting dilemma, I would like to know more about the details. Looking forward to hear the presentation if given the chance. 🙂


  8. How the forest ecology is related with the social and local history? Such an interesting question and such a fascinating case-study! The opportunity to know more about the project and its interdisicplinary approach cannot be missed at the World Forestry Congress! All the best !


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