General characteristics of the area

 

The Management Agency of Karpathos and Saria Protected.
Area was formally established in 2002 and is currently based in Olympos municipality.
Its operational structure became fully effective on March 2007, when all necessary scientific and administrative personnel were employed.

The main activities of the Management Agency include:

✓ The protection andT management of the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus local population and its habitat.

✓ The protection of terrestrial, coastal and marine biotopes and ecotopes of Mediterranean and European interest, as well as the preservation of fish stocks and the marine natural environment.

✓ The awareness and sensitisation of the public.

✓ The environmental education, the planning and implementation of environmental policy.

✓ The conservation of all important elements of the natural and cultural environment of the wider area of Karpathos.

Aiming at the awareness and sensitisation of the public, the Management Agency has established an information centre at the port of Diafani, in which visitors and local inhabitants
can be informed on all exceptional characteristics of the area.

The centre hosts an extensive photographic exhibition of rare and endemic plant and animal species present in the protected area, of traditional villages, of archaeological sites, as well as of all components and characteristics that have established Northern Karpathos and Saria as an important ecological and cultural area in Europe.

The Management Agency is utilising the speed boat «Saria» for patrolling the marine zones of the Protected Area, but also to conduct small scale research activities. «Saria» has been purchased by the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm), an environmental non governmental organisation, in the framework of a LIFENature project.
A key goal of the Management Agency of Karpathos and Saria is the promotion of awareness and sensitisation of the younger generation in the area, focusing on issues of preservation and conservation of the protected area.

The main aim of the latter is the establishment of responsible attitudes towards friendly environmental behaviour.
Numerous educational activities (such as theatrical plays, board games etc), as well as rich environmental education material are utilised by the Management Agency in its information centre but also in the field, to educate and inspire the local youngsters on the importance of their home island and its natural and cultural environment.

The area includes the Nothern part of Karpathos, approximately 83 km2, and the island of Saria (20 km2), which lays in the northern end of the island. The whole protected area is coinsiding with the administrative boundaries of Olympos municipality.
The two islands are divided by a narrow sea passage (Saria’s strait), which is 80 meters long and no more than 5 meters deep. The protected area is part of the Natura 2000 Network, the European Union’s Protected Areas and is registered with the code GR 4210003.

Northern Karpathos and Saria are mountainous areas (the highest peaks of Northern Karpathos is Profitis Ilias at 719 meters and of Saria is Pachi Vouno at 631 meters),
surrounded by deep gorges, screes, streams and steep rocky coasts.

The vegetation is adapted in harsh conditions throughout the carved and sloped landscape, mostly due to the minimal precipitation and the strong winds.

The Mediterranean shrubs (phrygana) are dominant in the local vegetation, however extensive well preserved Turkish
Pine forests (Pinus brutia) are common in the eastern part of N. Karpathos and in the southern and eastern parts of Saria.

The importance of both islands, which has led to their designation as protected areas, is based on that:

✓ The area hosts one of the largest populations of the most critically endangered marine mammal in Europe, the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus.

✓ Northern Karpathos and Saria have been designated as an «Important Area for European Birds» according to the European Union’s Directive 2009/147/EC (79/409/EEC).

✓ The rich local biodiversity consists, among others, of numerous rare and endemic plant and animal species, which are protected by international conventions and Greek legislation.

✓ Tristomo bay, in the northern end of Karpathos, constitutes the most important marine area of the island, since on the rocky parts of its seabed there is a significant population of the mollusk bivalve Acre noae (common name Noah’s arc), as well as the central sandy parts of
the bay’s seabed host the largest population of the mollusk bivalve Pinna nobilis in the Southern Aegean Sea (common name nobble pen shell).

✓ The local geomorphology, characterised by screes, cliffsand rocky shores, is typical of the Aegean Sea and of great aesthetic value.

✓ Furthermore, the islands are valued for their archaeological findings.