The forest has always been a source of life not only for the residents of Dadia, but for the wider region as well, with the primary sector possessing an important place in the residents’ economic life. Almost all economic activities that constitute the primary production take place in the region with great potential.
The main residents’ occupations are:
• Logging: Logging and forest management of the National Park have been interwoven with the residents’ life for many years. With the declaration of the area as protected, several restrictions have been set concerning the areas that can afford logging. However, logging continues to constitute a source of income for many residents. Carrying the wood from the forest up to the road is done by mules.
• Agriculture: Many residents cultivate the land, either as main occupation, or in order to enhance their income. The lowland areas which are more fertile and are situated near the Evros River are intensively cultivated, while in several cases traditional practices are applied.
• Viticulture: Viticulture along with sericulture have constituted the two main activities of the inhabitants of Soufli and the wider region, bringing economic and demographic growth. At the beginning of the 20th century, the vineyards of Soufli covered an area of about 7,000 ha. with table and wine-grapes varieties. After a wide destruction by phylloxera, a tremendous effort was initiated to install new vineyards, involving old and new, local and globally well-known varieties, rendering the wine and tsipouro of the area really unique. At the 2,000 ha. that are currently cultivated we find the known local varieties of Rozaki, Opsimo of Soufli, Muscat of Hamburg, Karnachalas, Mavroudi, Pamiti, Sefka, Ntamiatis, Mpougialamas, Cinsaut (known as French), as well as foreign ones such as Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay etc. The wine and tsipouro produced here are available in the local market, thus proving a financial boost to the region and attracting many visitors, while in recent years with the development of the industry and the dynamic evolution of viticulture, the grapevine products of Soufli have invaded larger markets. On February 8, the memory of Patron Saint Tryphon is celebrated with events and Kurban offerings taking place. In addition, each year, in late November, the tsipouro festival is organized in Soufli, giving everyone the possibility to taste the new wine and tsipouro vintage and to be informed about the art of wine-making through a series of events.
• Sericulture: Soufli and the surrounding area of the central Evros have been historically interwoven with silk. Silk is said to have been discovered in 2640 B.C. in China, where the export of both silkworm and mulberry were prohibited by death. Finally in 550 A.D. the Chinese monks brought it to Istanbul thus giving rise to the development of sericulture in the Byzantine Empire. One of the most powerful development centres was Soufli. Until a few years ago (early 1980s), Soufli was almost exclusively dependent on sericulture, exporting considerable quantities of cocoon and silk abroad. Even the architecture of the houses in the region depicts the needs of sericulture (high-ceiling houses to facilitate the development of silkworm). The industrial production of silk in Soufli, that rendered the city globally famous, began about 100 years ago. Nowadays, some silk craft industries and several commercial businesses operate in Soufli while serious efforts are made to revive sericulture and reintegrate it dynamically into the economic life of the city.
• Livestock Farming: Livestock farming activity is gradually dying out year after year∙ nonetheless there are still animals freely grazing.
• Beekeeping: Beekeeping holds a prominent position in the region and it is dynamically growing in the wider area of the National Park. Pine forests, heather and other flora species attach a distinctive aroma and unique flavor to the local honey, which is exported all over Greece. Meanwhile, plenty of residents manage small beehives to fulfill their family needs and supplement their income. It is estimated that more than 100 tonnes of honey are produced per year.