HISTORY & CIVILIZATION
This article is intended as a tribute to the Big Mountain of Cephalonia, Mt. Aenos, which for centuries is connected to the course of its history.The presence of this mountain literally haunts the fate of the island and in one way or another affects the residents’ lives through the centuries. The ancient writers surrender Aenos to us as a historical and sacred mountain, surrounded by the glamour of mystery and Deity. It has always played a decisive role in shaping the political, economic and social life of the inhabitants, guiding their choices and also forming their metaphysical
searches and their religious sentiment. Its relationship with various myths, religious or historical events and its role in the overall political development of the island place it as the central point of reference for the overall progress of Cephalonia from mythical times until today.
Aenos, therefore, seems to have a continuous timeless presence. Since the era of the island’s historical obscurity, without any sources, written or other, having reached us, folk tradition preserved only morsels from the ‘perpetual present’ of the sacred mountain. These elements are traced disguised under various mantle in customs and traditions that survive to this day in folk memory. Therefore, the characterisation “Αenos of myth and history” is rightfully appropriate.
But time does not work only at the expense of memory and tradition. The forest, vegetation and fauna are at the mercy of environmental changes and over the centuries human interventions have injured the forest’s wealth, threatening the survival of endemic and rare species of flora and fauna biodiversity. However, we believe that despite these problems, nowadays it has been realised what the Big Mountain means for Cephalonia and Greek nature and that neither the memories with which it is affiliated will be lost nor its natural wealth will disappear. These objectives are also served by this work as a whole.
With regard to our own focus area, we will try to highlight the diachronic effects of Aenos as a natural factor in the historical course of the island.
The National Park of Mt. Aenos, Cephalonia, is the smallest National Park of our Country with a total area of 28,620 km2.
In 1962, it was declared a National Park with the Royal Decree 776/1962, having as its main purpose the protection of the Abies cephalonica Loudon (Cephalonian Fir) forest, which is an endemic species of Greece. In the Ionian Islands it is exclusively found on Mt. Aenos (Fig. 2). Besides, Mt. Aenos is the locus classicus of the Cephalonian Fir, which was described as a new species by the English Botanist J.W. Loudon in 1838 (Fig. 3). At the same time, however, a second reason for declaring this National Park was the protection of its rich and particularly interesting flora and fauna biodiversity. The core of the National Park consists of two unconnected, yet neighboring areas. The main area is the one around the summit of Megas Soros (alt. 1,627 m), which is 23,160 km2 and the second area is the one around the summit named Roudi or Gioupari (alt. 1,125 m), which is 5,460 km2. It should be noted that the summit Megas Soros as well as the summit Roudi or Gioupari make up the total mountain volume attributed to Mt. Aenos.
In 1968, the Greek State bought the area of the National Park from the Charity Institution for 3.5 million drachmas. The parties responsible for its management are the Forestry Service of Cephalonia and the Management Body of the National Park of Mt. Aenos. The Management Body of the National Park was founded by law 3044/2002 (GG 197A/27.8.2002), along with 24 more Management Bodies for Protected Areas and has undertaken the protection, promotion and sustainable management of its protected areas. In recognition of its importance, the National Park of Mt. Aenos has been characterized as a European Biogenetic Reserve, it has been included in the European Ecologic Network of Special Zones “Natura 2000” (GR2220002) and in the network of Special Protection Areas of the European Community for the protection of avifauna (GR2220006). With its declaration as a National Park, it was simultaneously designated as a Wildlife Refuge.
In 2003 (GG 918B/4.7.2003) the first Administrative Council of the Management Body of the National Park of Mt. Aenos was appointed, which operated until March 2004. In 2006 (GG 775Β/28.6.2006) the second Administrative Council was appointed. which remained in power since 2019, with only a few modifications in its composition.
In 2019 (GG 114/YODD/07.3.2019) the third Administrative Council was appointed. which remained in power until today. It consists of 7 appointed and 7 alternate members: it includes representatives of the –then– Ministries of Environment, as well as of Local Administration, Local Stakeholders, Specialised Scientists and others. Since then and until this day, the President of the Administrative Council is Researcher Emeritus of the National Observatory of Athens, Dr. George Drakatos.