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

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Periochi Mitserou


NATURA 2000 Code: CY 2000003

Surface area (ha): 608

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:
Periochi Mitserou is located 28 km southwest of Lefkosia town and it is surrounded by Agrokipia village in the east, Mitsero village in the south, Kato Moni village in the west and
Mitsero mines in the north. Fifty two percent of the land is owned by the government and the rest is private land belonging to the villages of Mitsero, Agrokipia and Kato Moni. Most of the site is covered by natural vegetation (90%).

Scientific description of project area:
The area is characterised by a variety in geological substrates. The altitude of the area ranges from 360 m at the centre to 619 m at the top of "Kreatos" mountain in the east. The climate of the area is semi-arid with mean maximum temperature during summer months around 30 °C and mean minimum during winter months around 10 °C.
A considerable number of Annex I Dir. 92/43/EEC habitat types develop within the site. In the northwest part, there are large areas dominated by phrygana (Habitat type 5420), composed mainly of
Sarcopoterium spinosum, Thymus capitatus and Asperula cypria. A lot of small streams exist in the site, flowing only during rainy days. These streams are mainly colonized by phrygana and they provide suitable growing conditions and shelter, for geophytes (especially Orchids).

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 of Mitsero covers a relatively small area and has suffered considerable pressures; nevertheless it still retains its high ecological value. The site includes seven Annex I habitat types, two of which (*6220 and *5220) are priority ones. Periochi Mitserou hosts a considerably rich flora. More than 500 plant taxa (about 25% of the total Cyprus flora) grow in the area. Twenty-one of them are endemic and 17 are orchids.

The consortium has selected this site for the establishment of a plant micro-reserve focusing on the conservation of the Annex II priority plant species *Ophrys kotschyi.
The site hosts the largest *
Ophrys kotschyi colony in Cyprus, which is under severe threat. O. kotschyi is a rare endemic species with impressive inflorescences, which is included in the Annex I of the Bern Convention as a strictly protected species. Moreover, it is included in the "List of Threatened Plants" compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, as well as in the "European Red List of Globally Threatened Animals and Plants". In both catalogues it is characterised as "Vulnerable". The species is also included in the Red Data Book of the threatened plants of Cyprus, in the category "Vulnerable".

The area where the plant micro-reserve will be established is haliland (owned by the Government).

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