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Protected area of Northern Karpathos - Saria

Author: Arpathea Villas

The area of Northern Karpathos – Saria is considered to be as one of the most important habitats in Greece due to the existence of many rare and endemic species of flora and fauna, many of which are found exclusively in the region and nowhere else in the world. Therefore Northern Karpathos and Sharia have been included in NATURA 2000 network (network of major ecological regions of Europe) with code GR4210003.
The importance of the area which places it on the map of protected areas comes as a result of the following: It is a habitat for one of the largest populations of the number one endangered marine mammal in Europe, the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus. The protected area of Northern Karpathos – Saria is characterized as a very important habitat for the breeding of the monk seal because of the appropriate caves found in the area. It is estimated that the region is used by a population of at least 30-35 seals of different ages, except newborns (MOm 2009).
Northern Karpathos and Saria have been included in the “Important Bird Areas of Greece” according to the Directive 79/409 / EEC, since the fact that from the 43 different species of birds that have been recorded in the region, 18 are included in Annex I of the European Directive 79/409 of the Council of the European Communities. 35 bird species are using the protected area for breeding, while 11 of them are included in the priority species of European Directive 79/409.
The biodiversity of the area is large and is characterized by a number of rare and endemic plant and animal species, which are protected by international conventions and Greek legislation. Typical examples are the salamander Lyciasalamandra helverseni (commonly kochylina) which is the only endemic urodeles in Greece and the Frog Pelophylax cerigensis, local endemic of Karpathos. Both species are considered highly endangered. The bay of Tristomo on the northern edge of Karpathos is the most important sea area of the island since the hard substrate surrounding it have been found a large population of the bivalve Arca noae (commonly Kalognomi), while its interior muddy substrate hosts the largest population of bivalve Pinna nobilis (commonly Pina) in the southern Aegean.
The geomorphology of the area with cliffs and rocky shores is typical of the Aegean region and has a great aesthetic value. The intense terrain of the area with steep slopes, combined with the warm Mediterranean climate, with strong winds in winter and low availability of water in the summer, have played an important role in shaping the vegetation in the area. So the dominant vegetation consists of hardy species such as brushwood and maquis.
Furthermore, the protected area is of a great archaeological interest. From the ancient cities of Vroukounda and Nisyros there are remains of tens of caved tombs, ruins of walls and fortifications, part of the Hellenistic walls, but there are also Byzantine monuments, since these cities were inhabited until the 7th century BC. Of particular interest are the medieval buildings in the island of Saria used as a base of the Arabs in the 8th century.

[Republisehd from the book: Protected Area Karpathos – Saria, ed. Karpathos Management Agency Shari’a]