CHERSONISOS AKAMA 

 

Name of the project area: CHERSONISOS AKAMA

Surface area (ha): 17917

EU protection status:

SPA  NATURA 2000 Code: CY4000023

pSCI NATURA 2000 Code: CY4000010

Other protection status according to national or regional legislation:

There are three Main State Forests within the site: Akamas Forest (5809 ha), Pegeia Forest (1359.7 ha) and Meleti Forest (18.7 ha). The Lara-Toxeftra coastal area, in the south-western part of Akamas, includes important nesting habitats for green turtles and Loggerhead turtles, and has been protected as a Nature Reserve since 1989. The reserve has a total area of 650 ha, 100 ha of which are terrestrial and 550 ha are marine. The area of Lara-Toxeftra is also designated as a Barcelona Convention Special Protected Area (UNEP Directory) and as a Council of Europe Biogenetic Reserve. Finally, the whole proposed Natura 2000 site "Akamas Peninsula" is also proposed as a Special Protection Area according to Dir. 79/409/EEC.

Main land uses and ownership status of the project area:

The Akamas Peninsula (17.917 ha) includes both marine (43.82%) and terrestrial parts (56.18%) including 7.196 ha of Main State Forest land. The north Lara beaches are in the Akamas Forest areas. The south Lara beaches are partly public property and partly state forest land. All the other beaches are public property. The adjoining hinterland is either privately owned or is public or forest land. The rest of the site is private land except from certain areas which are haliland.

Scientific description of the project area:

The geology of the area is extremely variable. The most important features are the ophiolithic complex which includes the volcanic formations of mainly upper or lower pillow lavas and metabasalts, which dominate the northwest corner of the area and transect the areas from north to south. Intrusions of diabase rock and serpentine can be found in these complexes. Large parts of the Akamas area are covered by formations of Pleistocene conglomerates and calcareous terraced deposits. These can include all alluviums of silt, sand, gravel, marl and sandstones.

The Akamas Peninsula is included in the western coastal climatic zone, but there are several distinct microclimates. The mean annual air temperature ranges from 16 °C to 19 °C and the average annual rainfall from 450-650 mm. The topography of the peninsula ranges from a maximum altitude of 669 m near Ineia village, to the coastline, including mountain plateaus (around 400 m), small plains, small streams, deep narrow valleys, caves, gorges, sandy beaches, rocky shores and small islets.

The site exhibits high habitat diversity with 21 terrestrial and 3 marine habitat types (Posidonia beds 1120*, Reefs 1170 and Sea caves 8330). The terrestrial vegetation is dominated by Juniperus phoenicea matorral (habitat type 5212) and Pinus brutia forests (habitat type 9540). Also, Phrygana (habitat type 5420), Olea and Ceratonia maquis (habitat type 9320) and Genista fasselata scrub (habitat type 5330) are quite widespread. Furthermore, Akamas is one of the only three sites in Cyprus with the endemic priority habitat of serpentinophilous grasslands (habitat type 62B0*).

The rest of the habitat types occurring within the site are:

  • Annual vegetation of drift lines (habitat type 1210)
  • Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp. (habitat type 1240)
  • Embryonic shifting dunes (habitat type 2110)
  • Malcolmietalia dune grasslands (habitat type 2230)
  • Brachypodietalia dune grasslands with annuals (habitat type 2240)
  • Dune Juniper thickets (habitat type 2250*)
  • Dune sclerophyllous scrubs (Cisto-Lavenduletalia) (habitat type 2260)
  • Mediterranean temporary ponds (habitat type 3170*)
  • Pseudo‑steppe with grasses and annuals (Thero‑Brachypodietea) (habitat type 6220*)
  • Calcareous inland cliffs with chasmophytic vegetation (habitat type 8210)
  • Siliceous inland cliffs with chasmophytic vegetation (habitat type 8220)
  • Caves not open to the public (habitat type 8310)
  • Cupressus sempervirens forest (habitat type 9290)
  • Riparian woodland with Platanus orientalis (habitat type 92C0)
  • Riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea) (habitat type 92D0)

 

In a recent survey, habitat type 9560* was also located in the area. It should be mentioned that in the beginning of the 20th century this habitat was more extensive, but its area was considerably reduced as a result of illegal cutting since its wood was highly valued for roof making.

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 ecological value of Akamas Peninsula stems from its landscape diversity (due to variety in geomorphology, substrates and history of human impact) as well as from its geographical position at the westernmost coast of Cyprus. These factors have led to quite high habitat types and species diversity. The site offers a representative example of generally well conserved eastern Mediterranean ecosystems, both terrestrial and marine. The high aesthetic value of the area has conferred a high economic value due to tourism development potential. In addition to the presence of 22 (Annex I 92/43/EEC) terrestrial habitat types (including 9560*), the site hosts about 650 plant taxa (40% of the indigenous flora), including 42 endemic plants (at subspecies level). The site hosts five plants of Annex II 92/32/EEC, four of which are endemics. Another 48 important plant taxa (rare, threatened, protected) grow in the area, of which 22 are included in the Red Data Book of the Flora of Cyprus. Akamas peninsula is very important for the bird fauna; in fact it is one of the most important areas in Cyprus for the migratory birds. The total number of bird species recorded in the site comes up to 170. The site offers habitat to 55 Annex I 79/409/EEC species, 99 migratory birds and another 16 important bird species, among them the endemic Otus scops cyprius. The terrestrial fauna includes 5 Annex II 92/43/EEC bats and another 29 species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The marine and coastal ecosystem of the area is of high ecological value including 3 Annex I 92/43/EEC habitats.

This site was selected for the implementation of management and conservation measures on the habitat type 9560* Endemic Mediterranean forests with Juniperus subsp. and specifically forests of Juniperus phoenicea. This is a priority habitat type that has not been included in the initial proposal of the habitat types present in site of Chersonisos Akama. Despite that 9560* habitat type is not listed in the Standard Data Form (SDF), tree stands of Juniperus phoenicea have been recently identified and roughly mapped– at least 11 polygons have been identified – by the Department of Forests (the competent authority for the management of all main and minor state forest, including National Forest Parks and Nature Reserves). Before the end of the project, the Department of Environment and the Department of Forests (the competent authorities for the management of the Natura 2000 Network in Cyprus) that participate in this project, take the responsibility to send the revised SDF to the European Commission.

Source of information:

1. Iezekiel, S. (Editor) Christodoulou, S. C., Antoniou, A.K., Hadjichristoforou, M., Delipetrou P. Kassinis, N. and Panagides P. 2009. “Natura 2000 standard data form for Special Protection Areas (SPA), for sites eligible for identification as Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC): Chersonisos Akama”.

2. Tsintidis, T., Christodoulou, C. S., Delipetrou, P., Georghiou, K. (Eds) 2007. “The Red Data Book of the Flora of Cyprus. Cyprus Forestry Association, Lefkosia.

3. Montmollin, B. de and Strahm, W. (Eds). 2005. “The Top 50 Mediterranean Island Plants: Wild plants at the brink of extinction, and what is needed to save them”. IUCN/SSC Mediterranean Islands Plant Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. 110 pp.