The hilltop forest of Thessaloniki, known as Seich Sou, is being systematically attacked by a species of beetle, with experts saying that almost ten percent of the pine trees have already been destroyed.
“Tomicus piniperda,” the common pine bark beetle, identified as a serious pest in the United States, is regarded as one of the most destructive shoot-feeding species in Europe.
The Seich Sou Forest, situated on Kedrinos Lofos overlooking the huge urban center of Thessaloniki, hosts 277 plant species, among which pine trees are dominant. There are also scattered cypress and plane trees, and many species of poplars.
The forest is also home to a rich variety of fauna. Mammals found there include hares, foxes, martens, squirrels, weasels, and hedgehogs. Approximately 80 kinds of birds frequent the forest, chief among them the short-toed snake eagle, the common cuckoo, nightingales, the rock partridge, owls, and the song thrush. Salamanders, frogs, turtles, grass snakes, and lizards are the most common amphibians and reptiles in the important habitat.
On July 7, 1997, a large fire broke out and burned down 55 percent of the forest over a period of 60 hours. Two large reforestation projects took place in 1998 and 2000, but most of the reforestation since then has occurred naturally.