Sunday, 2 November 2008
We could spend a whole evening talking about climate change: finally we had a reasonably cool summer and September was the coldest ever. There are friends who claim that in years gone by you could sleep outside on the beach in December and in the spring, March and April, you mainly lived outside. Well, I just remember our first winters a few years back, when snow and rain poured down on the island. Is the climate here in Greece getting colder?
Last week proves the contrary: temperatures climbing nearly to 30°C and a sea temperature that still attracted some swimmers. But no rain and many Greeks get sad looking at their olive trees, that this winter don't bear much fruit and the olives that hang on the trees are small and crave for water to get just that magic touch to be able to produce that healthy, yellow gold oil.
World history proves that climates are not stable. Here on Lesvos this is proven by the Petrified Forest where trees and fossil plants from millions of year ago have been found. Some of the plants and trees, like the sequoia tree, can now only be found in the tropical and subtropical climates in South-East Asia and North America. This is a reason for scientists to conclude that Greece, in any case Lesvos, once used to have a tropical climate.
If you want to see volcanoes in Europe, you go to Sicily to climb the rumbling Etna or you descend into a spectacular crater in Madeira to visit the village of Curral das Freias. No volcano lover chooses Lesvos, although Lesvos has all its fertile land and its biggest attraction thanks to volcanoes. The island is full of wonders for geologists, and the park of 15,000 acres with its petrified trees and plants will be a paradise for them. Although you will no longer find active volcanoes here.
When a guide accompanies you when you get to this wonderful, geological park in the west of the island, approaching the villages of Anemotia and Agra, you will hear that you are travelling through the crater of a volcano. But you will need a lot of imagination to think you are moving through the cone of a crater, because the rugged mountain slopes and rough mountain peaks form an intriguing landscape, but do not look at all as a cone shaped mountain with a crater on its summit from which smoke escapes.
Everywhere on the island you will find bright coloured rocks and old crushed lava fields, evidence of the presence of these extinct volcanoes. As is of course the Petrified Forest, where wonderful trees are on display. Thanks to the volcanic eruptions and the following rains huge trees with roots and all were petrified and now you will find large tree chunks that have been changed into semi-precious stone.
When during the summer heat you shuffle one by one through the park, the crowd and heat may not allow you to imagine that once the island was covered with huge trees. But when you go in the low seasons like spring or autumn, when the sun is not burning yet and you can walk around at your own pace, those million years old trees will for sure move you to tears.
The Petrified Forest of Lesvos is the largest park in the world with petrified trees. Some smaller parks in the world are the Petrified Forest National Monument in Chubut Province in Argentina, the Geosite Goudberg by Hoegaarden in Belgium, the Geopark or Paleorrota in Brazil and the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, but also in other countries, including Egypt, India, the Czech Republic and Australia, you will find small sites with petrified trees.
Lesvos is of course very proud of this unique park, but in terms of tourism it has a lot of competition in its own country, like the Palace of Knossos on Crete, the ancient medieval city of Rhodes, or the Acropolis in Athens, which was in the race for the New Seven Wonders of the World.
The Acropolis just missed the finish and was not announced as a new wonder of the world by the New7Wonders Foundation, which is committed to saving world heritage. In addition to the New Seven World Wonders, which are buildings made by men, the organization next year wants also to proclaim the Seven World Wonders of Nature. The preliminary rounds, where everyone can vote (also through the Internet), are already in full swing, and ultimately each country may enter the next round with only one site.
And that's not good news for Lesvos, because the Petrified Forest now has to compete with the Meteora rocks, the island of Santorini and the highest mountain in Greece, Olympos. Olympos is now ranked 107, Santorini 137, Meteora 111 and the Petrified Forest only 322!
Curiously enough the Petrified Forest is amongst the nominated forests, while I would consider it amongst the 'Rocks' or 'Parks'. Not that it matters, but I would still like to see the Petrified Forest finishing at least amongst the 100 World Wonders of Nature. The fascinating Petrified Forest on this beautiful Greek island is certainly worth your vote. So don't let your voice get lost and vote for the Petrified Forest of Lesvos:
Copyright © Smitaki 2008