With the integration in Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA) of the Management Body of Kyklades Protected Areas, the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas operates under N.E.C.C.A.’s Protected Areas Management Directorate (Sector B), based in Ermoupoli with a branch office in Naxos.
Its spatial area of jurisdiction includes the following Natura 2000 sites:
|GR3000011||NISIDES MYRTOOU PELAGOUS: FALKONERAVELOPOULA ANANES KAI THALASSIA ZONI|
|GR4210009||ASTYPALAIA: ANATOLIKO TMIMA GYRO NISIDES KAI OFIDOUSA KAI THALASSIA ZONI (AKR. LANTRA – AKR. VRYSI)|
|GR4210011||VRACHONISIA NOTIOU AIGAIOU:VELOPOULA FALKONERA,ANANES,CHRISTIANA,PACHEIA,FTENO,MAKRA,ASTAKIDONISIA,SYRNA-GYRO NISIA KAI THALASSIA ZONI|
|GR4210022||NISOS SYRNA KAI NISIDES,MEGALOS ADERFOS,MIKROS ADERFOS,KATSIKAS,MESONISI,PLAKIDA,STEFANIA,NAVAGIO|
|GR4210023||NISIDES KARPATHIOU PELAGOUS: MEGALO SOFRANO,SOCHAS,MIKRO SOFRANO,AVGO,DIVOUNIA CHAMILI,ASTAKIDONISIA|
|GR4210020||NISOI KINAROS KAI LEVITHA KAI NISIDES LIADIA PLAKA GLAROS MAVRA KAI THALASSIA PERIOCHI|
|GR4210021||ANATOLIKO TMIMA ASTYPALAIAS KAI NISIDES KOUNOUPI FTENO CHONDROPOULO KOUTSOMYTIS MONI AGIA KYRIAKI TIGANI CHONDRI LIGNO|
|GR4220001||ANDROS: ORMOS VITALI KAI KENTRIKOS OREINOS OGKOS|
|GR4220002||ANAFI: CHERSONISOS KALAMOS – ROUKOUNAS|
|GR4220003||SANTORINI: NEA KAI PALIA KAMMENI – PROFITIS ILIAS|
|GR4220004||FOLEGANDROS ANATOLIKI MECHRI DYTIKI SIKINO KAI THALASSIA ZONI|
|GR4220005||PARAKTIA ZONI DYTIKIS MILOU|
|GR4220006||NISIS POLYAIGOS – KIMOLOS|
|GR4220007||NISOS ANTIMILOS – THALASSIA PARAKTIA ZONI|
|GR4220008||SIFNOS: PROFITIS ILIAS MECHRI DYTIKES AKTES KAI THALASSIA PERIOCHI|
|GR4220010||VOREIODYTIKI KYTHNOS: OROS ATHERAS – AKROTIRIO KEFALOS KAI PARAKTIA ZONI|
|GR4220012||VOREIA AMORGOS KAI KINAROS LEVITHA MAVRA GLAROS KAI THALASSIA ZONI|
|GR4220013||MIKRES KYKLADES: IRAKLEIA SCHOINOUSA KOUFONISIA KEROS ANTIKERIA KAI THALASSIA ZONI|
|GR4220014||KENTRIKI KAI NOTIA NAXOS: ZAS KAI VIGLA EOS MAVROVOUNI KAI THALASSIA ZONI (ORMOS KARADES – ORMOS MOUTSOUNAS)|
|GR4220016||NISOS PAROS: PETALOUDES|
|GR4220017||NISOI DESPOTIKO KAI STRONGYLO KAI THALASSIA ZONI|
|GR4220018||SYROS: OROS SYRINGAS EOS PARALIA|
|GR4220019||TINOS: MYRSINI – AKROTIRIO LIVADA|
|GR4220020||NISOS MILOS: PROFITIS ILIAS – EVRYTERI PERIOCHI|
|GR4220021||MIKRES KYKLADES VOREIOANATOLIKI AMORGOS ANATOLIKES AKTES DONOUSAS GYRO NISIDES KAI THALASSIA PERIOCHI|
|GR4220023||ANAFI ANATOLIKO KAI VOREIO TMIMA KAI GYRO NISIDES KAI THALASSIA PERIOCHI|
|GR4220025||NISIDES PAROU KAI NOTIA ANTIPAROS KAI THALASSIA PERIOCHI|
|GR4220026||NAXOS: ORI ANATHEMATISTRA KORONOS MAVROVOUNI ZAS VIGLATOURI|
|GR4220027||NISIDES MYKONOU: RINEIA CHTAPODIA TRAGONISI KAI THALASSIA PERIOCHI|
|GR4220028||ANDROS: KENTRIKO KAI NOTIO TMIMA GYRO NISIDES KAI PARAKTIA THALASSIA ZONI|
|GR4220029||SERIFOS: PARAKTIA ZONI KAI NISIDES SERIFOPOULA PIPERI KAI VOUS|
|GR4220030||DYTIKI MILOS ANTIMILOS POLYAIGOS KAI NISIDES|
|GR4220031||VOREIOANATOLIKI TINOS KAI NISIDES|
|GR4220032||VOREIA SYROS KAI NISIDES|
|GR4220033||NISOS GYAROS KAI THALASSIA ZONI|
|GR4220034||PARAKTIA KAI THALASSIA ZONI VOREIAS ANAFIS|
|GR4220035||THALASSIA ZONI ANDROU|
|GR4220036||THALASSIA PERIOCHI KOLOUMVO|
General description of the jurisdiction area
The Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas has under its jurisdiction 41 Natura 2000 protected areas located mainly in the Cyclades complex and the surrounding area of Astypalea. These include 16 Spatial Protection Areas (SPAs), 23 Sites of Conservation Importance (SCI) and 2 SPA/SCIs. The region’s wider network of Natura 2000 protected areas covers approximately 375,000 ha, 70% of which is marine. Thus, the Unit is required to oversee over 35 islands and islets and 265,000 ha of marine area.
General characteristics of the natural environment
The Central Aegean region is renowned for its remarkable biodiversity and significant level of endemism, which stems from the complex interplay of geological, biogeographic, and human factors over time.
Geologically, the region’s history has been shaped by volcanic activity, tectonic movements, and erosion, resulting in a diverse landscape that supports a wide array of habitats. Its strategic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, European, and Asian biogeographic realms has fostered the exchange of species, contributing to the region’s richness in terms of diversity and endemism.
Over thousands of years, human activities such as agriculture, fishing, and grazing have left their mark on the area, creating a mosaic of habitats. The Mediterranean climate has further supported the growth of various plant communities. Consequently, the region now comprises an assortment of habitats, including sand dunes, cliffs, forests, wetlands, rocky reefs, and sandy bottoms, all of which provide crucial habitats for numerous rare or endangered species.
General characteristics of the area’s protected species and habitats
The Natura 2000 protected areas in the Central Aegean region boast a diverse range of habitats, comprising 44 terrestrial and marine habitat types listed in Annex I of Directive 92/43/EEC. Notably, six of these habitats are considered priority habitats, including the Posidonia meadows (1120*) and Mediterranean temporary ponds (3170*).
The area also serves as a refuge for numerous endangered, rare, and endemic species. Among them, the Mediterranean seal (Monachus monachus) stands out as the most endangered marine mammal in Europe.
The region is an essential stopover for many migratory bird species during their long journeys, while numerous seabirds use the area for breeding. A total of 133 bird species are protected within the SPAs (Special Protection Areas), including Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae), yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), and Cretzschmar’s Bunting (Emberiza caesia).
Due to its unique geological history, climate, and insularity, the Central Aegean region plays a significant role in the conservation of various terrestrial and marine reptiles and invertebrates.
Numerous reptile species, including lizards and snakes like the four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata), find suitable nesting sites among the rocky cliffs. The sandy beaches serve as crucial breeding grounds for the sea turtle Caretta caretta. The long geological isolation of the islands has fostered the development of numerous endemic species, including the Milos viper (Macrovipera schweizeri).
The area hosts a rich diversity of endemic land snails, many of which face the threat of extinction. Additionally, various marine invertebrates, including sponges, corals, molluscs, and echinoderms, contribute to the area’s remarkable biodiversity.
The Central Aegean region is also home to notable flora, with species like the Silene holzmannii and the Symphytum cycladense, included in Annex II of Directive 92/43, being of particular interest and conservation concern.
The rocky islets in the area hold exceptional ecological significance. They play crucial roles as breeding grounds and shelters for diverse seabirds, support vital populations of reptiles, insects, and other invertebrates, and serve as valuable sites for researching island ecosystems and studying the impacts of human activities and climate change.
The area boasts numerous wetlands, including over 90 small wetlands that benefit from institutional protection under a Presidential Decree (Official Gazette AAP 229/19.06.2012). These island wetlands play a crucial role in supporting a diverse array of aquatic and terrestrial species, many of which are at risk of being threatened, rare, or endemic. For instance, the wetlands on Serifos island support the survival of species like Stactobia livadiaμελτ and Tinodes serifos, which are of particular ecological importance.
The rich geological history of the region has left behind a remarkable legacy of high geodiversity and unique geosites. Notably, some of the recorded special geosites include the globally renowned volcanic complex of Santorini, the captivating Sarakiniko of Milos, the intriguing cave of Antiparos, and the historically significant mines of Serifos.
Additionally, the area is home to two underwater volcanoes, the Kolumbo at the SE of Santorini and that of Milos, which are integral parts of the volcanic arc of the South Aegean. These underwater volcanic features add to the region’s geological significance and contribute to its diverse and captivating landscape.
The Cyclades and Astypalea possess a distinct and unparalleled island landscape, formed over time through the harmonious interaction of nature and human activities. This landscape is marked by its high value and tremendous diversity, encompassing a variety of features such as traditional agricultural areas, archaeological sites, geological formations, and captivating underwater vistas.
Within the region, 26 places have been officially recognized and designated as “Landscapes of Particular Natural Beauty,” attesting to their exceptional and unique characteristics. Among these designated sites are Volakas on Tinos Island, the Chora of Astypalea, and the entirety of Folegandros island, each exemplifying the Cyclades’ remarkable blend of natural and cultural heritage. These locations showcase the extraordinary beauty and significance of the island’s landscape, reflecting the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature throughout the region.
There are no specific institutional arrangements for the region yet.
For the protection and conservation of protected areas of biodiversity, a Presidential Decree based on an approved scientific study is required (Law 1650/86 and Law 4685/2020).
For this purpose, two Special Environmental Studies (SEAs) are being prepared for the areas under the jurisdiction of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas. The SEAs will document the necessity of establishing protected zones, propose measures to regulate activities, and appropriate measures and actions for the conservation of the protected species and habitats of the Natura sites.
The project “Preparation of Special Environmental Assessments, Drafting of Presidential Protection Orders and Management Plans for the Natura 2000 Network Areas”, for part of the South Aegean Region, includes the largest part of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas area of responsibility. The SEA was put out to consultation on 16/11/2022 with an extension of the comment period until 30/04/2023.
– L. 4685/7.5.2020 “Modernization of environmental legislation, transposition into Greek legislation of Directives 2018/844 and 2019/692 of the European Parliament and the Council and other provisions”. (GG 92/Α/20)
– L. 4519/20.02.2018 “Protected areas management bodies and other provisions”. (GG25/Α/20-02-18)
– L. 4014/2011 “Environmental licensing of projects and activities, arbitrary regulation in connection with the creation of an environmental balance and other provisions within the competence of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change”. (GG 209/Α’/2011)
– L. 3937/2011 “Biodiversity conservation and other provisions”. (GG 60/Α/11)
– L. 2971/2011 “Seaside, beach and other provisions”. (GG 285/A/11)
– L. 2742/1999 “Spatial planning and sustainable development and other provisions”. (GG 207/Α/99)
– L. 2204/1994 “Convention on Biodiversity”.
– L. 1650/1986 “For the protection of the environment”. (GG 59/1994)
– L. 1634/86 Protocol of the Barcelona International Convention “On specially protected areas in the Mediterranean”. (GG 104/A/86)
– L. 1335/1983 International Convention of Bern: “Ratification of the International Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Environment”. (GG 32/A/1983)
– L. 998/1979 “On the protection of forests and forest areas in general in the country”. (GG 289/1979)
– L. 2719/1999 “Ratification of the International Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Fauna and other provisions”. (GG 106/A/99)
– L. 92/43/EEC “For the conservation of natural habitats as well as wild fauna and flora”.
– L. 2009/147/EEC “On the conservation of wild birds”.
– P.D. 67/81 “On the Protection of native flora and fauna and the definition of a procedure for coordination and control of research on them”, as corrected by the Government Gazette. 43 / Α’/ 1981 (GG 23/A/1981)
– P.D. 519/92 “Characterization of the Land and Sea Areas of the Northern Sporades as a Marine Park” (GG 519/A/92)
– P.D. 229/2012 “Approval of the list of small island wetlands and determination of conditions and restrictions for the protection and promotion of the small coastal wetlands included in it”. (GG 229/12)
Joint Ministerial Decisions
– 50743/2017 “Revision of the national list of sites of the European Ecological Network Natura 2000”. (4432/Β/2017)
– 8353/276/2012 Amendment and supplementation of 37338/1807/2010 “Determination of measures and procedures for the conservation of wild birds and their habitats, in compliance with the provisions of Directive 79/409/EEC…”, (B’ 1495), in compliance with the provisions of the first subparagraph of par. 1 of Article 4 of Directive 79/409/EEC of the European Council of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds, as codified by Directive 2009/147/EC. (103/Ε/2012)
– 37338/1807/2010 Definition of measures and procedures for the conservation of wild birds and their habitats/habitats, in compliance with the provisions of Directive 79/409/EEC, “On the Conservation of Wild Birds”, of the European Council of 2 April 1979, as codified by Directive 2009/147/EC. (103/Ε/2010).
– GG 1071/D/2006 with a 2- year validity with the possibility of extension up to 1 year, which came back into force for the 5- year period 2011-2016 with No. 42 par. 24 of Government Gazette 240/A/25-11-2011 “Determination of conditions and restrictions for the protection, conservation, and management of nature and landscape in terrestrial and aquatic parts of western Milos”.
– 55150/1944/31-5-2022 “Abolition of the Legal Entity of Private Law with the name “Management Entity of Protected Areas of Cyclades” and its incorporation into the Agency for the Natural Environment and Climate Change (N.E.C.C.A.). (GG 2870/Β/2022)
– 92566/2630/15-09-2022 Extension and amendment of the decision of the Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy “Determination of conditions and restrictions for the protection, conservation, and management of the nature of the terrestrial and marine area of the island of Gyaros” (D’ 389). (GG 586/D/2022)
– 58979/1531/04.07.2019 (2) “Definition of conditions and restrictions for the protection, conservation, and management of the nature of the terrestrial and marine area of the island of Gyaros”. (GG 389/D/2019)
– 2886/142447/12.03.2019 Definition of marine areas, with vegetation especially of Posidonia oceanica, in which fishing with specific gears is prohibited, in addition to those defined by the 167378/14-5-2007/241 D decision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. (GG 105/12.03.2019)
– 40332/08.09.2014 “Approval of the National Strategy for Biodiversity for the years 2014-2029 and a five-year Action Plan”. (GG 2383/B/2014)
– 167378/14-5-2007 (GG 241/D/2007, error correction Government Gazette 392D/24.8.2007) designating areas with Posidonia oceanica marine vegetation located within the Natura 2000 network (as a priority), where fishing with the above-mentioned gears was prohibited.
– Decision 91881/31.12.2015 of the Secretary General of the Decentralized Administration of the Aegean Establishment of a Marine Wildlife Sanctuary in the marine zone around the island of Gyaros, Regional Unit of Syros”. (GG 463/D/2015)
– 68092/2152/12.08.2021 National Action Plan for the priority habitat type 2250 * Coastal forests with Juniperus spp. (GG 3723/2021)
– 68083/2147/10.08.2021 National Action Plan for the sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in Greece. (GG 3678/2021)
– 68149/2156/06.08.2021 National Action Plan for the Lepidoptera Parnassius apollo. (GG 3646/B/2021)
– 68086/2149/09.08.2021 National Action Plan for the scavenger species of avifauna Gypaetus barbatus, Gyps fulvus and Aegypius monachus in Greece. (GG 3663/2021)
– 68148/2155/06.08.2021 National Action Plan for the flora species *Silene holzmannii. (GG 3645/B/2021)
– Decision of the National Water Committee 895/29.12.2017 “Approval of the Revision of the River Basin Management Plan of the Aegean Islands Water Department and the corresponding Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment”. (GG 4677/B/2017)
In the protected area of the Central Aegean, there are 44 habitat types of Directive 92/43/EEC belonging to the categories of coastal and halophytic habitats, coastal and inland dunes, freshwater habitats, sclerophyllous vegetation (Matorrals), natural and semi-natural grassy formations, rocky habitats and caves, as well as forests. In total, there are 6 priority habitat types (*) with codes 1120*, 1150*, 2250*, 3170*, 6220* and 91E0*.
In particular, the priority habitat types (*) encountered are briefly described as follows:
1120*: Posidonia beds (Posidonia oceanicae)
1150*: Coastal lagoons
2250*: Dune juniper thickets (Juniperus spp.)
3170*: Mediterranean temporary ponds
6220*: Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of Thero-Brachypodietea
91E0*: Residual alluvial forests (Alnion glutinoso- incanae)
In total, 2 important species of flora included in Directive 92/43/EEC, the terrestrial angiosperms *Silene holzmannii and *Symphytum cycladense, are found in the area of jurisdiction of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas.
*Silene holzmannii spreads to the rocky islets of the South Aegean in the areas “Astsakides” (GR4210011), Folegandros (GR4220004) and Syros (GR4220018), while it is mainly located in the coastal zone of these areas and according to data of the National Action Plan for the conservation of the species, its populations have also been recorded in the area “Sofrana” (SPA: GR4210023), Paros (SPA: GR4220025) and Syros (SPA: GR4220032). It is a species that belongs to the annual herbaceous plants and is often found in habitat 1240, while more rarely it is found in the inland of island areas. According to the relevant National Action Plan, the main pressures on this species are intensive grazing mainly by sheep and goats, as well as adverse weather conditions. Its conservation status is assessed as “Unfavourable” (U1) according to Greece’s report based on Article 17 of Directive 92/43/EEC.
*Silene holzmannii has been recorded within the protected area under code GR4220004 and is endemic to the Cyclades. It is a herbaceous perennial plant that is usually found in rocky limestone habitats. Its conservation status is estimated as “Favourable” with an unknown short-term population trend (FV(x)).
Among other significant species of endemic flora, are Fritillaria obliqua ssp. tuntasia (U2(x)) and Corydalis thasia (U1). Other marine macrophyte species are also present, such as Cymodocea nodosa, Cystoseira compressa, Cystoseira barbatula, and Cystoseira spinosa, while non- indigenous species such as Halophila stipulacea, Asparagopsis taxiformis, Caulerpa cylindracea and Stypopodium schimperi have been recorded.
According to the Standard Data Form (SDF), there are 133 significant bird species, 8 mammal species, 1 insect species and 6 reptile species in the area of jurisdiction of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas.
The species *Monachus monachus (Mediterranean Monk Seal) is found in 19 areas, with the area of Gyaros, among others, being a significant habitat for the species. This species is found in priority habitat types, such as Posidonia oceanica meadows and caves in the area, which it mainly uses for shelter and foraging. Its conservation status is estimated as “Unfavourable”, showing an increasing short-term population trend (U1 (+)). Tursiops truncates (bottlenose dolphin) (U1(x)) is found in 7 sites and is often found in meadows of P. oceanica. The significant bat species Myotis blythii (U1(x)), Myotis emarginatus (U1(x)), Rhinolophus hipposideros (FV(x)), Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (U1(x)) and Rhinolophus blasii (U1(x)) are present, according to SDF data, within the protected area under code GR4220014. These species are included in Directive 92/43/EEC. For the most part, they choose habitats such as meadows and caves, while they are often found in mines.
Other marine species
The conservation status of the marine invertebrate Pinna nobilis is estimated as “Unfavourable- Bad”, showing a deteriorating short-term conservation trend (U2(-)). This species is usually found in the habitat *1120, while according to the SDF data it is found in 16 protected areas.
Among the most significant avian species are the Calonectris diomedea (Scopoli’s shearwater), Emberiza caesia (Cretzschmar’s Bunting), Falco eleonorae (Eleonora’s falcon), Falco peregrinus (Peregrine falcon), Larus audouinii (Audouin’s gull), Puffinus yelkouan (Yelkouan shearwater). Important bird species also include the Hieraaetus fasciatus (Bonelli’s eagle), Gyps fulvus (Eurasian griffon vulture), Aquila chrysaetos (Golden eagle), Haliaeetus albicilla (White- tailed eagle) and Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii (European shag).
The species *Euplagia quadripunctaria, the Jersey tiger, is found in the protected areas under the codes GR4220011, GR4220014 and GR4220016, while it is included in Directive 92/43/EEC. Euplagia quadripunctaria is often found in habitats such as broadleaf forests, scrublands and near rivers. The main pressure on this species is intensive grazing, as it can reduce to a great extent the preferred flora of the specific species. Its conservation status is assessed as “Unfavourable” with an unknown short-term population trend (U1(x)).
The turtles *Caretta caretta, *Chelonia mydas and Mauremys rivulata, as well as the snakes Elaphe quatuorlineata, Zamenis situla and *Macrovipera schweizeri, are found in the area of jurisdiction of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas. *Caretta caretta is found in 24 areas, which are mainly transit and feeding grounds for the species. Its conservation status is estimated as “Unfavourable”, showing a negative short-term population trend (U2(-)). *Chelonia mydas is a rare species and has been recorded within 2 areas under the codes GR4210009, GR4220014 and GR4220019, while its conservation status is estimated as “Unfavourable” showing an unknown short-term population trend (U2(x)). Both *C. caretta and *C. mydas are often found in meadows with Posidonia oceanica. Mauremys rivulata is found in 9 areas and its conservation status is estimated as “Unfavourable”, showing a negative short-term population trend (U1(-)). This species has been recorded in rivers and wetlands. Elaphe quatuorlineata and Zamenis situla are found in 8 and 10 sites, respectively, and their conservation status is assessed as ‘Favourable’ with a stable short-term population trend (FV(=)). These two latter species are mainly found in habitats such as shrublands, brushwood, crops and rocky substrates. *Macrovipera schweizeri (Milos viper) is an endemic species and occurs in habitats within SACs under codes GR4220006, GR4220008 and GR4220020. This species is mostly found in stream beds and rocky areas near or in bushes. Its conservation status is assessed as “Unfavourable”, showing a negative short-term population trend (U1(-)).
The internal water bodies in the area of jurisdiction of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas, taking into account mainly the available data for the area of the Cyclades as well as the island of Astypalea, are estimated to be 37. In particular, in Andros 7 natural wetlands have been recorded, mainly streams of permanent flow, in Tinos 3 natural and 1 artificial wetlands, 2 of which are assessed in “good” conservation status, namely “Kolimbithra” (corresponds to habitat type *1150) and the reservoir “Livadas”, in Serifos there are 2 streams, in Paros the lagoon “Santa Maria” and the marsh “Molos”, in Naxos 13 wetlands and in Koufonissi 1 very small, in Amorgos 1 wetland, in Milos 4 wetlands, one of which is the lake “Achivadolimni” and “Rivari”, in Kimolos a small marsh, the “Sufiokalamo”, in Polyaigos 2 wetlands and in Astypalea 1 natural marsh “Vathi”.
The climate of the region is temperate. It is relatively mild in winter and the summer period is cool, with the main characteristic feature being the so-called seasonal winds ‘meltemia’ (mean value: ̴4.5 Beaufort). The mean annual temperature corresponds to 18°C. The area is characterized by low levels of precipitation, with variations depending on altitude and other features per island site. The climate in the majority of the island areas under the jurisdiction of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas is classified as mesothermal type Csa, with the presence of intense drought during the summer period.
The geomorphology of the areas under the jurisdiction of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas is often characterized by steep rocky coasts, semi-mountainous terrain, and a significant number of small wetlands that are mainly found near the coastline. In addition to the steep coasts and the rugged terrain, the areas also feature sandy coasts and some lowlands. At the same time, the presence of particular coastal geomorphological structures such as caves is considered important; for instance, submerged caves are found in SACs under codes GR4220002, GR4220009, and GR4220013. In addition, the presence of mines is significant. Also, erosion occurs in various sites along the coastline of the islands and to varying degrees, depending on the geological features of each area, as well as in combination with local oceanographic and climatic features.
The responsibilities of the Management Unit, according to Article 34 of Law 4685/2020 (A’ 92) are varied, and include indicatively:
– Monitoring the status of species and habitat types in the areas of territorial jurisdiction.
– Drafting an annual report on the protected areas under its jurisdiction.
– Participation in the preparation and implementation of management plans for protected areas, species and habitats.
– Compiling studies, carrying out surveys and technical or other works for the protection, restoration and enhancement of protected areas.
– Consultation with the local community.
– Information and awareness- raising activities for the public.
– Organising and participating in training and education programmes.
– Gathering scientific information and reliable statistical data.
– Participation in the implementation of national, European or international programmes and actions.
– Compilation of monitoring plans for the area of responsibility of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas.
– Participation in Programme Contracts and Memoranda of Understanding with public services and bodies.
The main responsibilities of the Management Unit also include providing scientific advice and opinions on projects and activities that take place within or very close to its area of responsibility and may affect, directly or indirectly, the protected species and habitats.
Submission/Implementation of Programmes
The Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas implements actions within the framework of the Act “Integration of the National System of Protected Areas and Management Structures of Natura 2000 sites” with the code MIS 5130700. The actions to be implemented are the following:
|Studies for feeding stations for birds of prey||€ 3.750,00|
|Study for the maintenance and modification of the Kokkinis mine entrances (Andros)||€ 1.500,00|
|Protection Actions/Measures for the viper of Milos island (Macrovipera schweizeri)||€ 32.114,02|
|Installation of insulators at selected spots of the overhead power transmission network in the Central Aegean||€ 55.000,00|
|Maintenance and landscaping of the Kokkinis mine entrances on Andros island||€ 5.000,00|
|Preparation of a carrying capacity study and a Visitor Management Plan in areas of the NATURA 2000 network of the Central Aegean||€ 45.000,00|
|Construction and operation of feeding stations for birds of prey||35.000,00|
|Actions for the promotion, restoration and design of management measures for marine caves (habitat 8330) in the marine areas of the NATURA 2000 network of the Central Aegean||€ 155.000,00|
|Actions for the enhancement and restoration of rocky reefs (habitat 1170) in the Central Aegean||€ 110.000,00|
|Enhancement and restoration of Posidonia meadows (habitat 1120) in the Central Aegean, North- Eastern Aegean, Corinthian Gulf, Southern Peloponnese and Evia- Skyros||€ 220.000,00|
|Elimination of rats from specific colonies of seabirds and Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae) in the Central Aegean||€ 102.200,00|
|Promotion and restoration of Posidonia meadows (habitat 1120) in the Central Aegean, North- Eastern Aegean, Corinthian Gulf, Southern Peloponnese and Evia-Skyros||€ 360.000,00|
à Memorandum of Cooperation with the Institute of Research for Sustainable Development, Culture and Tradition (Syros Institute) aiming to the protection of the environment, sustainable development, and the promotion of cultural heritage in the wider region of Cyclades. Syros island is a case where tradition is preserved and is located in the Aegean area of the Cyclades, which is of the highest ecological and environmental importance. The integrated planning and rational management within the country’s Protected Areas promoted by N.E.C.C.A. will contribute to the conservation of the rare species and habitats that exist in these areas, thus supporting the statutory objectives of the Syros Institute.
In the premises of the Research Centre “Prof. Joseph Stephanou”, the Institute of Syros has granted the required space for hosting and housing the offices of the Management Unit of the Central Aegean Protected Areas of N.E.C.C.A.
à Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Ministry of Shipping and Insular Policy (MPAI), the N.E.C.C.A., and WWF Greece, for the effective conservation of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) of Gyaros, through an innovative surveillance system.
Gyaros is of particular scientific and historical interest. Its geographical location, morphology, and isolation make it an ideal refuge for many endangered species of terrestrial and marine flora and fauna.
In particular, the project concerns the handover to the N.E.C.C.A. and the operation of a remote surveillance system for the Marine Protected Area of Gyaros, intending to reduce illegal fishing. The system was installed and operated by WWF Hellas during the period 2015-2022, in cooperation with the competent Port Authorities and includes a combination of high-tech equipment installed at selected points of the MPA of Gyaros and Syros Port Authority.
The area of jurisdiction of the Central Aegean Management Unit is considered discontinuous since it occupies areas in 12 different Regional Units and 22 different Municipalities. Although it consists of different islands and marine areas of the Aegean, most of them show relatively similar residential development, apart from some of them that have been differentiated due to the intense tourism input in recent decades.
The smallest islands, such as Mikres Cyclades or Serifos, have a basic settlement usually called “Chora”, which is developed at the highest point of the island, with few permanent residents. In addition, there are also smaller settlements scattered on the island, demarcated or not. On the larger islands such as Syros, there is a development of the urban fabric, but without altering the traditional architecture. At the same time, there are several settlements, either coastal or more mountainous.
On all the islands, the settlements’ location was used to be based on the weather conditions and the natural terrain, without prior planning. A common element of the whole area is the special Cycladic architecture that was determined by the defensive element, due to piracy. As a result, the houses used to be built mostly inside closed fortified castles.
In the area of jurisdiction of the Central Aegean Management Unit, the activities that are developed are in the primary sector and mainly in fishing, animal husbandry, beekeeping, and to a lesser extent agricultural production. Although for many years, the economy of the islands has been characterized by self-sufficiency, however, modern rhythms and development of transport have declined this productive model. On the larger islands, trade is now also prominent. There are also examples of industrial development, such as Neorio operating in Ermoupoli of Syros, which is one of the oldest shipyards in the country (located outside the protected area).
However, tourism is the common activity that determines the economy of the entire area. All the Cyclades are a pole of attraction for Greek and foreign tourists during the summer season. Islands such as Santorini, Mykonos, and Paros are among the most powerful and recognizable tourist destinations worldwide. This, in turn, has led to the development of the tertiary sector with tourism activities (accommodation, transport, catering, and entertainment services) directly determining the islands’ economy.
Apart from its natural significance, the region has a rich cultural heritage that is a significant part of its identity. The Cyclades have been inhabited since the Neolithic period and have hosted various cultures throughout their history, including the Minoans, the Mycenaeans, and the Venetians. The Cycladic civilization flourished in the area from the 3rd millennium BC., producing distinctive art and architecture. The islands are also home to several imperative archaeological sites, such as Delos which was a religious, political, and commercial centre of the ancient Greek world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gyaros is a monument of significant history in the region, which was used as a place of exile both in Roman times and in the recent history of Greece. All the islands of the Central Aegean Management Unit protect and preserve their rich cultural heritage, visible today in traditional architecture, cooking, music, and festivals.
In recent years, there has been intense pressure from various types of activities within the protected areas. Construction projects such as port development works and the investments’ installation for utilization of renewable sources of energy (photovoltaic and wind farms) have direct consequences on the protected species and habitats of the area. Also, due to the intensification of tourism, artificial changes occur (e.g., infrastructure for visitors), causing significant modifications to the natural landscape and habitats. At the same time, other activities such as unsustainable livestock farming activities, illegal and unregulated fishing, as well as poaching, threaten the terrestrial and marine fauna of the region.
Websites of Programs/Actions of the Management Body: