The Forestry Department in Konitsa, north western Greece introduced a three-year ban in cattle grazing in the regions of Drakolimni and Rizina Lakes in the mountainous area of Zagori, to protect the environment, the Environment & Energy Ministry said on Thursday.
The request came from Minister Giorgos Amyras, and the ban will affect an area of 354.4 hectares (3,544 acres).
Explaining the decision, the ministry said it will stem the environmental downgrading of the lakes due to periodic and uncontrolled grazing of cattle that gather at the lakes. The grazing has resulted in partial or full destruction of plants and the erosion of the land in the alpine lake region, as well as the pollution of the wetlands from high levels of ammonia.
Cattle grazing also threatens the habitat of wild goats, which are under protection by national and EU legislation.
Drakolimni Lake of Tymfi in particular has been designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) for wild birds in the EU's Natura network. The lake is considered a remnant of the Ice Age, and known as a habitat of unique alpine newts (Ichthyosaura alpestris).
The ministry said that it would work with the Region of Epirus to add watering holes for the cattle outside the banned area.