The Thracian island of Thásos (and its ‘sister’ Samothraki) is an extension of the Rhodope Massif, composed largely of limestones and crystalline marble (in the north-east) and schists. Its circumference of 100kms encloses a land area of 382 sq.kms, most of which is mountainous and dominated by the Ypsario range rising to 1203m. Lowland habitats are confined to a narrow coastal band in which agriculture occupies 8000ha, with 91% of this accounted for by olive groves.
Situated just 8kms off the mainland, Thásos experiences a sub-Mediterranean climate with rather cold winters (January average 5.6 degC) and snow is not unusual. The annual rainfall of c.500mm falls mainly in the winter and early spring, with the summers characteristically hot and dry. This climatic regime permits the development of scrub and forest such that woodland habitats are more extensive on Thásos than any other Aegean island. However, excluding the typical Mediterranean phrygana dwarf-shrub communities, other habitat types away from the littoral fringe are scarce on the island and probably all good examples are worthy of conservation. The vegetation of the island has been reported upon by Rechinger & Rechinger-Moser (1951), Regel (1943), Stojanov & Kitanov (1950) and Strid & Tan (1998). More general accounts of vegetation communities in the Mediterranean can be found in Polunin (1980), Polunin & Huxley (1987) and Polunin & Walters (1985).
During my visits to the island I have been able to explore only a fraction of its land surface and no doubt have over-looked some important wildlife sites. The following pages present an account of some of the better examples of the main habitat types on the island but I would be interested to hear of any additional localities discovered by visitors.
Polunin, O. 1980. Flowers of Greece and the Balkans: a field guide. Oxford University Press.
Polunin, O. & Huxley, A. 1987. Flowers of the Mediterranean. London, Chatto & Windus.
Polunin, O. & Walters, M. 1985. A guide to the vegetation of Britain and Europe. Oxford University Press.
Rechinger, K.H. & Rechinger-Moser, F. 1951. Phytogeographia Aegaea. Akad. Wiss. Wien, Math.-Naturwiss. Kl., Denkschr. 105 (2): 1-208.
Regel, C. 1943. Pflanzengeografische Studien aus Griechenland und Westanatolien. Bot. Jahrb. Syst., 73: 2-98.
Stojanov, N. & Kitanov, B. 1950. Rastitelnit. otnošenija na ostrov Tasos. Izv. Bot. Inst. (Sofia), 1: 214-357.
Strid, A. & Tan, K. [Eds.] 1998. Flora and vegetation of North East Greece including Thasos and Samothraki. Botanical Institute, University of Copenhagen. Unpublished report.