Areas of the project
Koshi - Pallourokampos (CY6000009)
The Koschi area is a low hilly area and flat lands mainly covered with phryganic vegetation. The dominant plant species are Thymus capitatus and Sarcopoterium spinosum. Some parts of the area are characterized with some steep rocky slopes or steep clay slopes with small gorges. The rainfall is fairly limited and does not exceed the average of 250-280 mm / per year. Nevertheless, in the small stream systems, irregular surface waters may be running depending on year’s rainfall and small patches of reed beds with Arundo donax are present. The importance of this habitat is the relatively undisturbed and extended habitat of these plant communities with limited road access and other infrastructure.
Geologically the area comprises mainly limestone. Soils are very shallow, dry and infertile on sloping ground. However, on flat areas, there is fertile land with deep soils, used for agriculture.
Annual rainfall is very low, about 280 mm on average, and is the driest region in the island, this being a major limiting factor for plant and animal life.
There is no surface water in the site, with the exception of the main stream which flows from December to March.
The vegetation in the forest part has been totally altered by the past forestry practices through extensive plantings during the 1980s using heavy machinery to construct terraces which improve locally water conditions as they increase the capacity of soil to retain rain water.
The natural habitats occurring in the area, i.e., 5220* (*Arborescent matorral with Zizyphus lotus), 5330 (Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub) and 5420 Sarcopoterium spinosum phrygana (Cisto-Micromerietea) have been replaced by alien forest species, mostly Eucalyptus spp., Acacia saligna and various hybrids and species of Pinus. The natural vegetation exists only in small patches and is commonly suppressed by the exotic trees.
This site was selected as a project area because (i) it is the driest forest area in Cyprus, (ii) habitats have been entirely altered by forest planting of exotics (iii) there is complete lack of any fruiting trees even in the wider area and (iv) most of the targeted bird species are present. For these reasons it was felt that there is good ground for implementing the ideas involved in the project.
Potamos Panagias Stazousas
The site is in the foothills of Stavrovouni Mountains in the Larnaca district. The village of Klavdhia is less than one km from the easternmost corner of the site. The site is dissected by the small stream of Pyrga – Klavdhia (Stazoussa). Along the river there are large stands of Pistacia terebinthus, Tamarix spp. and Nerium oleander and isolated Salix alba. The small hills along the river are covered with low phrygana (mainly Sarcopoterium spinosum and Thymus capitatus). Small barley fields with olive groves exist in flat areas. As the river goes northwest (towards Pyrga village) the slopes are becoming steeper and the hills higher, mainly covered with the thorny shrubs Callycotome villosa, scattered Pinus brutia, maquis consisting wild olive trees and Pistacia lentiscus and Pistacia terebinthus where as agricultural fields with carob trees also exist. The highest peak on the site is Appidhaki at 416 m, about a 1.5 km to the south of Psevdhas village. That area is dominated with Pine trees and Olea / Ceratonia habitat type. Moving to the southern end of the site, large stands of thorny bushes (mainly Genista fasselata / Calycotome villosa) are dominant. At the southernmost end of the site, just north of
Aspropetra peak, there is a permanent water spring (Mavronero) – outside the forest.
The habitat types occurring in the site are:
- 5330 : Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub
- 5420: Sarcopoterium spinosum phrygana
- 92D0: Southern riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea and Securinegion tinctoriae)
- 9320: Olea and Ceratonia forests and
- 9540: Mediterranean pine forests with endemic Mesogean pines
Although the site receives comparatively higher precipitation than the other two project sites (about 400 mm average), scarcity of water is prominent here as well despite the presence of the main stream which retains water from December to March or April every year. The use of herbicides and other chemicals by farmers is also a problem since it results in the production of food that could be dangerous for birds.
The site was selected as a project area because (i) most targeted bird species are present here, (ii) the area is on the western margins of the Mesaoria Plain, the driest area of Cyprus, and will face a problem of drought in the future as a result of climate change and (iii) the forest area is adequate for conservation measures and is poor in terms of food and water availability, and therefore is suitable for applying the measures foreseen by the project.
The dominant vegetation of the site is Phoenicean Juniper maquis (Habitat type 5212), covering about one third of the area. A significant part of the area is planted with exotic species (Acacia saligna, Eucalyptus spp. and Pinus halepensis or hybrids of the latter species).
However, over large parts, the vegetation cover is natural. Along the sea cliffs, there is typical vegetation of the Mediterranean Sea cliffs (habitat type 1240) with communities of Crithmum maritimum, Frankenia hirsuta, Limonium spp., Ephedra fragilis subsp. campylopoda and also with annual Saginetea communities with Silene sedoides, Sagina apetala. On the cliffs there are also other species like Narcissus tazetta, Hyoscyamus albus, Phagnalon rupestre, Umbilicus horizontalis, Andrachne telephioides, Aristolochia parvifolia, Enarthrocarpus arcuatus etc.
Phrygana vegetation (Habitat type 5420) dominates at many places within the site. Sarcopoterium spinosum is abundant forming extensive colonies. There is also considerable occurrence of Lycium sweinfurthii in low coastal form, rarely exceeding 1 m high. Among the common species in this formation are Ephedra fragilis subsp. campylopoda, Phagnalon rupestre, Noaea mucronata, Echium angustifolium and many geophytes (Narcissus tazetta, Cyclamen persicum, Romulea tempskyana,
Bellevalia spp. etc). At three sites there are small patches of Zizyphus lotus (*5220) along with Phagnalon rupestre, Noaea mucronata, Allium willeanum, Allium ampeloprassum.
Vernal pools (Habitat type *3170) are confined to small depressions on hard limestone ("kafkalla"). At the deeper places Ranunculus peltatus subsp. microcarpus, Zannichellia palustris and Lythrum tribracteatum dominate from December to February (or early March) when the pools are flooded. When the pools start to dry up Telmissa microcarpa, Bellis annua ssp. minuta, Sedum porhyreum, Crassula vaillanti and Juncus bufonius come up.
The coastline over the site is indented with rocky cliffs whereas partly submerged caves (8330) are formed at places and reefs which are prolongated underwater (1170). At one bay a sandy beach called “Konnos” is formed and another small sandy beach is formed at the edge of Kavo Gkreko. At both beaches there is sparse drift line vegetation (1210) with Cakile maritima, Salsola kali, Matthiola tricuspidata, Euphorbia peplis and few ammophilous species such as Eryngium maritimum, Echium arenarium occurring without forming typical communities. The marine phytal communities consist of reefs which are characterised by Cystoseira barbata forests and at the soft seabed the seagrasses Cymodocea nodosa (1110) occur sparsely at shallower depths, while Posidonia oceanica (1120) dominates at the deeper depths (from 20-41 m depth).
The climate of the area is semi-arid with mean maximum temperature during the summer months around 26.8 °C and mean minimum during the winter months around 12.2 °C. The mean annual rainfall is around 350 mm and most of the raining occurs from October or November to April (or March).
The geology of the area is Biostrome and bioherm reef limstones. The soil is generally shallow limestone and a great portion of the area especially near the sea is bare rocky with little soil which make it sterile.
This site was selected as a project area because (i) all targeted bird species, with the exception of one species, are present in the site (ii) its high value for birds mainly for migratory species, (iii) because of the challenging high negative human impacts on birdlife, and (iv) because is a dry site encircled by excessively developed areas with intense human presence and activity.