The Palm Forest of Preveli in Crete burned by wildfires

preveli palm forest burned

Wildfires burned the Palm Forest in Preveli Crete

A great part of the famous Palm forest of Preveli was burned on Sunday morning (August 22, 2010) during wildfires that broke out at the southern part of Rethymnon Prefecture.

According to reports from the Fire Brigade and Local Authorities, the historical palm forest of Preveli was burned to ashes, along with a thousand hectares of cultivations, animals and olive trees.

The fire broke out on Sunday morning at the village of Gianniou, near Plakias, and was set under control Sunday afternoon, after having burned thousands of hectares. The fire broke out in four different spots at the same time, a fact that raises suspicions for arson.

The fire brigade was not able to control the fire due to the extremely heavy winds and the fire threatened the Monastery of Preveli, that was saved due to a sudden change in the wind direction.

The winds also made it impossible for helicopters to drop water against the fire. The firemen created firelines and trails to prevent renewed outbreaks.

Preveli –The second largest Palm forest in Crete

burned palm forest preveli crete

Crete boasts two palm forests, the one in Vai in Eastern Crete and the palm forest of Preveli, one of the most famous, beautiful and popular beaches in Crete.

Preveli beach is located on the central south coast of the island, 43 km from Rethymnon town, where the tall, steep Kourtaliotiko Gorge meets the Libyan Sea a forming a cool lagoon and the famous sandy beach of Preveli.

Palms and oleanders create a shady, tropical paradise forest amidst the dry rocky Mediterranean terrain.

Tthe palm forest consists of the precious type of palm tree known as Phoenix Theophrasti, a rare species which is under extinction. This species is entirely different than the Phoenix Dactylifera that is found in Egypt and other areas of the Middle East and the US.

Insufficient protection of Preveli from fire

wildfires at preveli crete

The local representative of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Crete, Mr. Kaloust Paragamian asked for the head officers of the Fire Brigade to resign, suggesting that they were not able to protect Preveli as they should have.

More specifically, he asked why the pilot program of fire protection installed in Preveli did not operate, although it cost 1,4 million Euros.

He also claimed that planting pine trees close to the palm forest was a mistake, along with the existence of plastic pedalos and sun loungers, because they became combustible materials that helped the fire spread faster.

Restoration of the Preveli forest

preveli wildfires

Due to the huge ecological, aesthetical and touristic value of the Palm Forest in Preveli, the Ministry of Environmental Energy announced that it will cooperate with all pertinent authorities in Crete in order to restore this important ecosystem.

The authorities are optimistic for the quick restoration of the palm forest because many trees are not completely burned, but remain green at their top. A system for watering the trees will be installed in the next days and specialists will take all measures to assist the regeneration of the palm forest in Preveli.

NOTE. All photos come from

4 thoughts on “The Palm Forest of Preveli in Crete burned by wildfires”

  1. I was at Preveli and Vai this spring, and I took some fantastic photographs… I just can’t believe what I am seeing…
    I don’t understand why would someone set fire on purpose to such a wonderful place… I just can’t understand.

  2. My wife and i had our second visit to Plakias this year in Oct. We did not know about Preveli, but we visited it and it was perfect in June.
    Unbelievably we went on a walk starting at the Spili turn off and walked back through the large gorge to the other side of Preveli. On the way by the large layby near the chapel there was Two empty industrial fire work pods, the type used for big displays. I said what a stupid thing to have in the gorge.
    We continued to Preveli and came over the steps from the other side and there it was black! Unbelievable… we where just amazed. We contiued up the steps and on to the Monastary. A sad day and it has happened to a place we love dearly.

  3. What a dreadful tragedy, and if it were arson, I hope the culprits are caught and hit with the full force of the Law. Optimistacally though, look at the name of the trees …Phoenix Theophrasti… the Pheonix rises from the ashes! That is hope indeed.

    Good Luck Crete with the regeneration project.

  4. Having been to both Vai and Preveli, this fire being allowed to get out of control is a sacrilege. If it indeed was “set” I hope someone will turn in the arsonist for prosecution.


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