One of the most astonishing creations of nature, the Petrified Forest on the Greek island of Lesvos, is among the candidates for the “8th Wonder of the World” online contest, held by travel site VirtualTourist.com.
Stretching along the western coast of Lesvos, near the village of Sigri, the petrified forest was formed by increased volcanic activity on the island when the entire region, including lush forests, was covered by lava and petrified in place 20 million years ago. The layers of volcanic ash, eroded away through time, revealed standing fossilized tree trunks, branches and leaves, seeds and roots, as well as animal bones, a whole petrified ecosystem and an astonishing testimony to the turbulent geological history of the Aegean Sea.
The area is characterized by three important ecological regions: the western peninsula zone which includes the Petrified Forest with its micro-environments which host rare and threatened species of flora and fauna, a marine zone around the rocky islet of Nisiopi or Megalonisi, and the pine forest of Pteroudas – Parakilon in which exists the Rhododendron luteum, unique to Greece.
Due to its great significance as a geological landmark on Earth, the Petrified Forest of Lesvos is today a protected national monument, included in the Natura 2000 list of important areas for natural protection in the European Union, as well as a member of the European Geopark Network and the Global Geoparks Network of UNESCO. Needless to say that this one-of-a-kind site is also the island’s signature attraction.