Establishment of a Plant Micro-reserve Netwrok in Cyprus for the Conservation of Priority Species and Habitats

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Chersonisos Akama


NATURA 2000 Code: CY 4000010

Surface area (ha): 10250

EU protection status: SPA & pSCI

Other protection status according to national or regional legislation:
The site includes three Main State Forests: Akamas Forest (5809 ha), Pegeia Forest (1359.7 ha) and Meleti Forest (18,7 ha). The Lara - Toxeftra coastal area, which includes the most important nesting habitats for the marine turtles, has been protected as a Nature Reserve since 1989. The conservation status of the area is regulated in accordance to the provisions of the Fisheries Law (CAP 135) and the Regulations (273/90) aiming at the protection and sustainability of the marine turtle population and their nesting habitats. The Lara - Toxeftra Marine Reserve is located in the south-western part of Akamas peninsula and covers about 10 km of coastline (a total area of 650 ha), including the most important nesting beaches for the green turtle. The Lara-Toxeftra area is also designated as a Barcelona Convention Special Protected Area (UNEP Directory) and as a Council of Europe Biogenetic Reserve.

Main land uses and ownership status of the project area:
The Akamas Peninsula is located at the westernmost part of the Island and includes both marine and terrestrial parts. It covers an area of 10250 ha, out of which 7.140 ha is Main State Forest. The villages included in the site, from south to north, are Peyia, Kathikas, Pano Arodes, Kato Arodes, Inia, Drousia, Phasli, Androlikou and Neokhorio. The topography of the site ranges from a maximum altitude of 669 m in the Inia village hills, to the coastline, including a mountain plateau (around 500 m), small plains, small streams, deep narrow valleys, caves, gorges, sandy beaches, rocky shores and small islets.

Scientific description of project area:
The geology of the area varies. Regarding the climatic conditions, the Akamas Peninsula is included in the western coastal topoclimatic zone, but there are several distinct microclimates. Rainfall occurs mainly in autumn and winter and the annual precipitation ranges from 450-600 mm. The mean annual air temperature for January and July is 10°C and 30 °C, respectively.Akamas peninsula is characterised by its typical Mediterranean type vegetation, influenced by the marine climate. It is biogeographically classified to the Mediterranean maritime lower altitude zone. The landscape is diverse with a variety of habitats ranging from forests to low shrub and from cliffs to sandy shores. It includes rather undisturbed areas. Nevertheless, long-lasting anthropogenic activity has influenced the physiognomy and also the flora composition of the site. The coastline is mainly rocky, sometimes forming small sea cliffs.

Importance of the project area for biodiversity and/or for the conservation of the species/habitat types targeted at regional, national and EU level:
The site presents ecological, aesthetic, cultural, historical and economic elements of great importance. A total of 25 Annex I habitats have been identified, out of which 6 are priority ones.
The site hosts four Annex II Dir. 92/43/EEC plant species, namely
Tulipa cypria, Phlomis cypria, *Ophrys kotschyi and *Centaurea akamantis. As a result of the great variety of habitat types in Akamas, the flora of the area is considerably rich; sixty one important plant species have been recorded, 40 of which are endemic to Cyprus.

This site was selected for the establishment of a plant micro-reserve, which will focus on the monitoring, management and conservation of *Centaurea akamantis. CHERSONISOS AKAMA is the only site in Cyprus, where this endemic species can be found. More specifically, the species grows in fissures of shady limestone cliffs, only in two gorges of the Akamas peninsula. Its population comprises 600 individuals. The species has been included in the Red Data Book of the Flora of Cyprus and according to the IUCN criteria it was classified as "Endangered". C. akamantis is included in the Bern Convention Annex I as a strictly protected species. Moreover, it has been included in the "Top 50" booklet, which was published by the Mediterranean Islands Plant Specialist Group of IUCN and presents some of the most rare and threatened plants of the Mediterranean islands. The micro-reserve will be established at Avakas Gorge, which hosts the biggest subpopulation of the species (525 individuals).

The area where the plant micro-reserve will be established is state forest.

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