First compilation date
Date site proposed as SCI
Date site confirmed as SCI
Date site designated as SAC
National legal reference of SAC designation
Law 3937/29-3-11 (OJ 60 A)



The following elements comprise the ecological quality and importance of the site: 1) A great variety of habitat types, mostly well conserved: Quercus coccifera forests (it is noteworthy that the tree form of Quercus coccifera is unusual outside Crete and Peloponnese); a Quercus ilex forest, the unique large forest of the species in Crete (approximately 700 ha); Pinr forest (Pinus brutia); low-, mid- and high-elevation phryganas; and a great number of caves. 2) Its flora is extremely rich in common species and in rare and vulnerable endemic species, mostly cretan; moreover, some of them are stenoendemics, exclusively found in the site or in the mountains of Crete. Alyssum lasithicum, Cirsium creticum ssp. dictaeum, Galium incanum ssp. creticum, Silene thessalonica ssp. dictaea, Tragopogon lassithicus, Inula candida ssp. decalvans (=Inula pseudolimonella), Scabiosa minoana ssp. minoana (=Lomelosia minoana ssp. minoana), Astragalus nummularius, and Silene multicaulis ssp. cretica are endemic to the site.; Asplenium creticum, Hypochoeris tenuiflora, Origanum microphyllum, Cuscuta atrans, Silene andri-jovis, Astragalus idaeus, Geocarium creticum, and Epipactis cretica are endemic to the mountains of Crete. 3) its fauna, although it needs further investigation, is expected to be rich in endemic and rare species, such as species of gastropods. The gastropods listed in 3.3. (Other important species, Greek) are endemic to Crete or to Crete and to the little islands around. Oxychilus amalthae is a stenoendemic gastropod, exclusively found in the cave of Diktaion Adron and in danger of extinction. The fauna also includes a narrow endemic amphibian subspecies, Hyla arborea ssp. cretensis and an endemic to Crete mammal, Apodemus sylvaticus creticus. Besides, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum ssp. creticum, included in section 3.2.c. as Rhinolophus ferrum-equinum, is a subspecies endemic to Crete.There are also colonies of vultures (Gyps fulvus) at most of the mountains and gorges with the population at the gorge of Gonion being the most typical. 4) The plateau of Lassithi produces the majority of Crete's potato crops. It also has a unique in Crete old venetian drainage system and there are hundreds of windmillds used as water pumps and composing a rare aesthetic landscape. 5) There are still vineyards with old varieties of vines at the slopes of Selekanos. 6) There are many caves with endemic fauna. 7) There are many and scientifically important fossils at Katharo mountains. OTHER IMPORTANT SPECIES WITH MOTIVATION D. Plants:The following species are protected by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81) and are included in the IUCN Red Data List (1993) in the category of threatened plants: Cotoneaster nummularia (vulnerable), Cuscuta atrans (indeterminate). The following species, which are endemic to the mountains of Crete, are protected by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81): Alyssum idaeum, Alyssum lassithicum, Arenaria fragilima, Arenaria saponarioides, Chaenorrhinum idaeum, Cyclamen cretica, Dianthus juniperinus ssp. aciphyllus, Ranunculus cupreus, Scorzonera idaea, Scilla nana (including Chinodoxa nana), Tragopogon lassithicus, Tulipa cretica, Paeonia clusii ssp. clusii, Inula candida ssp. decalvans (=Inula pseudolimonella). Valantia aprica is a balkan endemic (Greece, Albania). Orchis anatolica ssp. sitiaca, Orchis anatolica ssp. anatolica are protected by the CITES Convention (Annex C). Orchis anatolica ssp. sitiaca is also protected by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81). Allium callimischon ssp. haemostictum is a plant with distribution in Greece and SW Turkey. Lamium garganicum ssp. striatum is a Balkan endemic. Satureja spinosa is a species with distribution in Crete and the East Aegean found only in SW Anatolia out of Greece. Reptiles: the species in section 3.3 areimportant because of their small populations with discontinuous areas of distribution and, besides being protected by the Bern Convention, they are also protected by the Presidential Decree 67/81. is a threatened species (IUCN, 1993).

Other characteristics

The area is located at the central-east part of Crete and is characterized by a belt of mountains, Dikti (altitude 2148 m, one of the three principal mountains of Crete), Selekano, Katharo, and Selena, which surround the biggest plateau of Crete, Lasithi (at 800 m altitude). The biggets part of the site is covered by large rugged mountains and gorges. The dolines are of special interest; the wet dolines are characterized by scanty vegetation of annuals common in other places but rare in Crete while the dry dolines are characterized by dense vegetation and, in Dikti, by the occurence of Polygonum idaeum, specialized in this type of habitat and confined to Psiloritis and Dikti. The characteristic types of vegetation is phrygana.The plateau is cultivated. A small part of the site is covered by vineyards. Finally, there is riparian vegetation with common perrenials or annuals (the vegetation of a constantly flowing mediterranean river with gravel bed, usually pebbles, a habitat type not included in Annex I).


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Reference: Natura 2000 data form, database release 7 Feb 2014