Karpathos, the second largest island of the Dodecanese, along with the islet of Saria, are among the most important islands from an environmental viewpoint due to their natural habitats and the rare species of animals living there that need to be protected and preserved. Two areas of Karpathos are included in the NATURA 2000 network and the island is regarded as a very important region for birds and the protection of the Mediterranean seal. The central part of Karpathos, specifically the area between Kali Limni, Lasthos and Kyra Panagia (9,350 Ha), falls under the category of Sites of Community Importance of the NATURA 2000 network due to its geomorphology, the mollusc fossils found there and its rare indigenous flora and fauna species.
The northern part of the island and the islet of Saria (8,300 Ha) are also included in the NATURA network falling under the categories of Special Protection Areas for avifauna and Sites of Community Importance. The Karpathian Sea islets of Megalo Sofrano, Mikro Sofrano, Sohas, Avgo, Divounia, Hamili and Astakidonisia covering an area of 356,000 hectares, some of which are considered spots of particular natural beauty, are also included in this network.
FLORA – FAUNA
The Bonelli’s Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus) is a species found not only in Kalymnos but also in Karpathos and Tilos. The Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) and the Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae) have also been observed on the islet of Saria. There are also many rabbits on the island, as well as an indigenous frog species called Rana cerigensis and the Mertensiella luschani helverseni salamander, that has only been observed in Karpathos, Kasos, Kastellorizo and the southwest regions of Asia Minor. The virgin northern part of the island and the islet of Saria are critical areas for the protection of the Mediterranean seal.
The island’s flora is impressive: protected cedars at the Trahanamos area, Posidonia meadows at its seabed, coniferous forests, the Turkish pine (Pinus Brutia), that is very popular in Crete and many rare and indigenous species, like the Silene holzmanii, an indigenous plant of the Aegean that is protected under the treaty of Bern and Greek Law and the indigenous orchid Ophrys rhodia.