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

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Periochi Asgatas


NATURA 2000 Code: CY 5000007

Surface area (ha): 106

EU protection status: SCI

Other protection status according to national or regional legislation:
The area has not any other protection status.

Main land uses and ownership status of the project area:
The site is located between the villages of Kalavasos and Asgata, at the easternmost part of Lemesos District. Actually the road which connects the two villages consists the southern border of the site. The other borders of the site are secondary roads. Almost all the site is covered by natural habitats. Part of the site (46 %) is public ownership, while the rest (54 %) is private land.

Scientific description of project area:
The main geological element in the area is Lefkara formation. The climax community within the site seems to be Oleo-ceratonion. Nevertheless, after an extensive fire 14 years ago, which affected most of the site, the dominant habitat type is thermo-Mediterranean shrub (habitat type 5330) with a mixture of densely growing
Cistus creticus, Calicotome villosa, Genista fasselata, Lithodora hispidula and Ptilostemon chamaepeuce. Olea europaea, Ceratonia siliqua, Pistacia terebinthus and Pistacia lendiscus are also sporadically found. This habitat type has also been developed on the abandoned orchards and vineyards of the area. Finally, some Pinus brutia patches (habitat type 9540) are also present.

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 most remarkable elements, regarding the ecological quality and importance of the site are related with the rich flora of the area and the presence of three very rare, endemic Annex II 92/43/EEC plants: *
Astragalus macrocarpus subsp. lefkarensis, *Ophrys kotschyi and Phlomis brevibracteata. The site hosts a considerable number of plants endemic to Cyprus. Specifically, a total of 23 endemics have been identified in the area so far. Moreover, more than 15 orchid species grow within the site.

This site was selected for the establishment of a plant micro-reserve, which will focus on the monitoring, management and conservation of *Astragalus macrocarpus subsp. lefkarensis. The site is of outmost importance for *Astragalus macrocarpus subsp. lefkarensis. Only six small subpopulations of this taxon are known so far. The largest subpopulation is found within this site. The total number of individuals of this taxon is 2900 out of which the 2000 are found in PERIOCHI ASGATAS site. *A. macrocarpus subsp. lefkarensis has been included in the Red Data Book of the Flora of Cyprus and according to the IUCN criteria it was classified as "Vulnerable". It is also 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 area where the plant micro-reserve will be established is public land.

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