Chania Flora and Fauna Preservation Park

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Location: Akrotiri

Right behind the tombs of Venizelos, in a 74-acre protected area, lies the Flora and Fauna Conservation Park of the Technical University of Crete. At a time when living organisms are disappearing at an alarming rate, especially as a result of habitat destruction, this is an important initiative allowing native plants and animals to peacefully co-exist and develop without any human intervention. Overlooking the Cretan Sea, it is highly recommended for nature lovers seeking some outdoor exercise.

The idea for the creation of this exemplary park originated in 1994 thanks to the then-rector Yannis Phillis. Aiming to preserve endemic or endangered species of Crete, it places particular emphasis on those that have economic or cultural value, such as pharmaceutical, aromatic and dye-yielding plants. Besides raising public awareness about biodiversity issues, it is invaluable for the observation and study of the Cretan flora and fauna.

More than 350 plant species have been identified and recorded in the park’s natural habitats, while its herbarium contains around 1,700 dried samples from all over the island. The most widespread species include carob trees, lentisks, oleasters, thyme, spiny broom, and various kinds of orchids and irises. Its eastern side is a prime example of a rocky habitat, while there is also an old olive grove and semi-natural fields. Areas that had formerly been cultivated are being turned into artificial habitats with species from other parts of Crete. Visitors can already see a wetland and a coastal ecosystem, as well as a history section with plants associated with ancient Greek mythology. Moreover, there are plans for a pharmaceutical and poisonous aromatic plants section, and for the creation of systematic flower beds.

In terms of fauna, the wider area of Akrotiri is one of the most significant ecosystems in Crete, with a large number of endemic and migratory birds finding refuge within the grounds of the park. It is also home to small-sized mammals, like hares, hedgehogs and martens, as well as reptiles and insects.

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