3. Trees Nature-Monuments of Cyprus
4. The Fauna of Cyprus
Studying the flora of Cyprus constitutes one of the most important activities of the Environment Sector. Within this context, a systematic collection of plants is taking place in order to enrich the herbarium of the Department of Forests. This activity contributes to the establishment of a more complete picture of the Cyprus flora and as a result it enhances the efforts towards its protection and conservation.
The flora of Cyprus is as rich as the flora found in other areas of the Mediterranean region. This is due to a number of factors, including geological structure, climatic conditions, geographic location, its insular character, the surrounding sea and the topographical configuration.
The Cyprus flora includes a comparatively high proportion of endemic plants counting to about 140 or 7.3% of the total number of native plants. The number of the indigenous plant taxa (species, subspecies, varieties, hybrids and forms) recorded until now in Cyprus exceeds 1900, as shown below:
2. Mushrooms (fungi)
Mushrooms belong to a larger group of organisms, known as fungi. Mushrooms as we see them above the soil are the visible part of a group of fungi, especially the fruiting body of the fungus. Unfortunately, mushrooms have not been properly studied in Cyprus until now, with the exception of a small number of species (about 100) that have been identified by the Forestry Department.
Cypriots are generally keen collectors of wild mushrooms. The most commonly collected mushrooms are:
Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus). A common and delicious mushroom of Cyprus. It appears during autumn in pine forests and shrubberies.
Milk-white Russula (Russula delica). A common mushroom of Cyprus. Although edible, it is not appreciated as much as the Saffron Milk Cap. It appears in autumn in pine forests.
Giant Fennel Mushroom (Plerotus eryngii var. ferulae). A common mushroom of Cyprus. It is a very delicious and plummy mushroom. It appears during spring and autumn growing on the roots of Giant Fennel (Ferula communis).
Field Mushroom (Agaricus campestris). Common edible mushroom. It appears during autumn in gardens and fields.
Morel (Morchella conica). A delicious and plumy mushroom. It appears during spring in recently burned areas, forests, meadows and wasteland.
The methods of collection and removal of mushrooms, if done properly does not affect the functions of the forest ecosystem negatively. Overcollection, however, of particular species, and the use of tools, can lead to the destruction of the habitat and the mushrooms themselves.
3. Trees Nature-Monuments of Cyprus
Trees nature-monuments or Giant Trees, are significant elements of our natural and cultural heritage. When we talk about trees nature-monuments we mean trees or high shrubs with unusually large dimensions and age, generally exceed two or three centuries.
Within the framework of the systematic effort of the Department of Forests more than 200 trees monuments all over the island have been recorded.
Further below reference is made to most important trees which have been declared as protected and are situated outside the state forests as well as examples of century-old trees (nature monuments) found on state forest land and protected by the Forest Legislation.
English name / location
|Scientific name||Estimated age |
|Oak Tree ( Lania)||Quercus infectoria ssp. veneris|
|Terebinths Trees (Kiti)||Pistacia atlantica|
|Terebinth Tree (Apesia) ||Pistacia atlantica|
|Terebinth Tree (Simou)||Pistacia atlantica|
|Oak Tree (Lagoudera)||Quercus infectoria ssp. veneris|
|Oak Tree (Prodromi)||Quercus infectoria ssp. veneris|
|Calabrian Pine (Chandria)||Pinus brutia|
|Rosewood (Kolossi)||Tipuana tipu|
|Sycamore Fig (Ayia Napa)||Ficus sycomorus|
|Carob Ttree (Polemidia National Forest Park) ||Ceratonia siliqua|
|Oriental Plane (Nisou)||Platanus orientalis|
|Mediterranean Cypress (Nisou)||Cupressus sempervirens|
|Olive Tree (Aglisides)||Olea europaea|
|Golden Oak (Kremos tis Pellis)||Quercus alnifolia|
|Stone Pine (Politiko)||Pinus pinea|
|Black Pine (Troodos)||Pinus nigra ssp. pallasiana|
4. The Fauna of Cyprus
Presently, about 30 mammal species, 25 reptiles and amphibians, 370 bird species, 250 fish species and around 6000 insect species are known to live in various habitats of the island.
Cyprus is one of the most important migratory routes in Europe because of its geographical position. It is also considered as an area with rich avifauna and an important bird area in Europe with high endemism.
The number of bird species recorded until now in Cyprus is 370. Of those, 53 are permanent residents while the remaining 317 are migrants. Of the migratory birds, 237 are common visitors and the remaining 80 are rare or very rare visitors. The number of the migratory birds visiting Cyprus in a year depends on the climatic conditions of Northern and Eastern Europe as well as the amount of precipitation that falls on the island in a given year.
There are 22 reptiles and 3 amphibian species living in Cyprus. They include 3 turtle species, 11 species of lizards (4 endemic subspecies) and 8 snake species, which include one endemic species and two endemic subspecies. Three of the snakes found in Cyprus are poisonous but only one can be harmful to man.
Three frog species are included in the amphibians.
Up to date, records and studies indicate that the number of insects presently known from Cyprus is about 6000. One of the most important group of insects, are butterflies which belong to the order of Lepidoptera. There are 52 butterfly species in Cyprus, 9 of which are endemic. Many other insect species are endemic and the most important habitats of those species are protected.
The main aim of the project was to:
1. One of the most threatened bird species in Cyprus is the Griffon vulture, which thirty years ago used to be a fairly common species on the island.
A project has been supported with a grant from the Bi-communal Development Programme, which is funded by USAID and UNDP and is executed by UNOPS. The project was implemented by the Cyprus Association of Professional Foresters during 2001-2003.
During the project period, the following management measures/activities were implemented in order to achieve the project’s aims and contribute towards conserving the indigenous vulture population:
- strengthen the conservation efforts of the Cyprus Forestry Department of the last 10 years;
- gain additional knowledge on the biology of the Griffon vulture and the main threats that it is facing;
- find appropriate conservation measures which need to be taken;
- raise public awareness and involve organised groups like NGOs (non- governmental organisations), schools, farmers and hunters in the protection campaign.
- Periodic surveys of the Griffon vulture population. Systematic inspections of the Episkopi cliffs, which is the only remaining breeding site in Cyprus.
- The cliffs at Episkopi were placed under close surveillance for two months in order to save any young birds which were unable to return to their nests after their first flight.
- In Pafos, a cage with the proper specifications was constructed for reproduction and treatment purposes but also to preserve genetic material in the case of extinction of the whole wild population.
- An incubator was purchased and an attempt was made to breed the bird under laboratory conditions. This effort will continue in close co-operation with universities from abroad.
- In order to confront the poisoning problem and the scarcity of food, a feeding station was constructed next to the cage, which is where dead animals are placed. The feeding station is operating successfully and is visited by wild birds.
- Transmitters were fixed on the birds in order to monitor and study their movements and biology, as well as the problems they are faced with.
- There were efforts to improve our knowledge about the specie’s biology and establish co-operation with scientists from abroad.
- Raising public awareness through lectures and articles in the mass media, as well as by publishing information material like posters and booklets, were among the main priorities of the project.