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 islands are quite important due to their position and history. Regarding their floristic synthesis the islands are one of the most important sites in Europe since a proportionally high number of African species are found here. Artemisia herba alba is a desert plant that is found in Africa; Known only from Spain just reaching SW France in Europe, widespread though from N Africa through Middle-East to Iran. It is an Iran-Turanian element but in Gavdos it is probably best considered an S. Mediterranean xerophytic element (Greuter et al., 1984). Filago aegaea ssp. aristata is a plant with distribution in S & E Aegean, Ionian Islands, Kriti and Cyprus. Also, Polygala venulosa is a species with distribution in S Greece, the Aegean, Anatolia and Cyprus.Periploca angustifolia is found only on Chrysi and Gavdos in Greece; in Europe is is found also in Spain, Sicily and Malta, otherwise in N. Africa. Ranunculus asiaticus is an East Mediterranean endemic, occurring in Crete and Aegean in Greece, otherwise in Egypt, Libya, Egypt, Sinai, SW Asia. Teucrium brevifolium is found in Anatolia, Egypt and Libya out of Greece. Tulipa saxatilis, which is protected by Greek law (Presidential Decree 67/81), is an Aegean endemic and it is also found on these islands. Hymenolobus procubens (which is included in the IUCN Red Data List (1993) in the category of threatened plants characterized as "indeterminate") is an S. Europe species, occurring only in Gavdos, Kasos, Karpathos in Greece. Silene succulenta ssp. suculenta is mainly distributed in north Africa and adjacent S.W. Asia but in Europe is found only on the islets south of Crete (Gavdos, Chrysi etc.). Tulipa saxatilis, which is protected by Greek law (Presidential Decree 67/81), is an Aegean endemic and it is also found on these islands. Hymenolobus procubens (which is included in the IUCN Red Data List (1993) in the category of threatened plants characterized as "indeterminate") is an S. Europe species, occurring only in Gavdos, Kasos, Karpathos in Greece. Callitriche pulchra which is normally found in Libya has its northern limit on these islands (it is found nowhere else in Greece or Europe). Gynandriitis monophylla is a species with distribution Libya, Egypt found only in Gavdos in Europe. Parietaria cretica is a species with distribution in Sicily, Greece and the Aegean region. Didesmus aegyptius, islet specialist, is an East Mediterranean element. Most of the plant species that are mentioned in section of "other important species of flora and fauna" can be found on other greek islands or even the mainland. The common characteristic of many of these african or asiatic species is that the Aegean and in a lesser extent the greek mainland are their only presence in Europe.Bupleurum gaudianum is a strict endemic of these islands. Ononis verae is a strict endemic found on these islands and on the opposite coast of Crete. It is protected by Greek law (Presidential Decree 67/81) and it is included in the IUCN Red Data List (1993) in the category of threatened plants characterized as "indeterminate". The following species are included in the IUCN Red Data List (1993) in the category of threatened plants: Chlamydophora tridentata (rare), Lamyropsis cynaroides (rare), Leontice leontopetalum (endangered), Trigonella spinosa (rare). Ophrys doerfleri is an endemic protected by Greek law (Presidential Decree 67/81). The mammal species Lepus europaeus is represented by endemic subspecies in the wider area (Crete and its satellite islands). This species as well as Hemidactylus turcicus are protected by the convention of Bern (appendix III). Cyrtodactylus kotschyi and Telescopus fallax, which on these islands are represented by endemic subspecies, are protected by the same convention (Bern Convention, appendix II) and by the Greek law (Presidential Decree. 67/1981) are protected the species Among the invertebrates there are a lot of endemic species. The following species of land molluscs are endemic of the two islands, Deroceras gavdosensis, Trochoidea sp., Oxychilus pieperi. All the other land snail species are endemic of the Cretan area. The other invertebrate species are endemic of Greece.

Other characteristics

This site includes two satellite islands of Crete, Gavdos and Gavdopoula. They are found 21 miles south of the southwest Cretan coast. The island of Gavdos is the largest of the two, with an area of 29.58km2 and maximum altitude 362m. Gavdopoula lies 3 miles northwest of Gavdos with an area of 2.62km2 and maximum altitude 113m. Geologically the two islands consist of limestone of upper Cretaceous (Pindos zone). Also on the island of Gavdos there are metamorphosed rocks. In Gavdos there are extensive neogene deposits with marine fossils. In the east side, between the settlements Karave and Kastri, there are also late Pleistocene deposits (psammitic) with well conserved land snail fossils. The vegetation on Gavdos island is maquis (Juniperus), wood (Pinus) and phrygana while on Gavdopoula Isl. the vegetation is mainly phrygana and very few clusters of Pistaccia. Cultivations are degrading while the Pine wood is spreading. On the north side there are extended sand dunes with Juniperus. On the south cape of Gavdos Isl. there is a salt marsh. Though the island is not high, there are a lot of valleys and temporary streams. In the north side, near Ag.Georgios, there is a spring with permanently running water and with typical aquatic vegetation (hydrophillous plants). Human presence on the islands dates back to Neolithic times. Today only the larger island is inhabited. There are less than 50 people dispersed all over Gavdos. On the island of Gavdopoula, which today is uninhabited, only grazing takes place. Transportation with Crete is by boats that travel from Palaiochora to Karave where there is a small port . During the last years there has been an increase in tourism and as a consequence more and more buildings are built without any planning whatsoever, especially near the port Karave and the sand beach Sarakiniko.


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2. Koch,C., 1944. Die Tenebrioniden Kretas. Mitt.muench.ent.Ges., 34:255-363.

3. Kypriotakis,Z. personal data. (3,3 4,2)

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10. Valakos, E., 1987. New locality records of some Greek reptiles. Oester. Geselsch. fur Herpetologie,12/13:70-71. (3,2 3,3 4,2)

11. Vardinoyannis K., 1994. Biogeografia ton cherseon malakion sto notio nisiotiko aigaiako toxo (Biogeography of land snails in the south Aegean arc). Ph.D. Thesis. Univerity of Athens. (3,3 4,1 4,2)

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14) Helelnic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (HSSPMS). 1995. Information and rescue network in Greece. (3.2.c)

15) Georghiou K. 1995. Checklist of Endemic, Rare and Threatened Plants of Greece. Draft. University of Athens. (3.3, 3.4, 4.2)

16) Dretakis M. 1995. Unpublished data.

17) Greuter W., U. Matthas & H. Risse. 1984. Additions to the flora of Crete. 1973-1983 I. Willdenowia 14:269.

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