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Akrotiri Peninsula presents significant environmental importance and is characterised by diversity at all levels: life forms (flora-fauna), habitats, geology, hydrology, archaeology, history and civilisation.

 

The wetland system of Akrotiri Salt Lake and Akrotiri Marsh was designated on 20 March 2003 as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The whole of Akrotiri Peninsula has been declared an Important Bird Area and is covered by many other international environmental conventions. Twenty-seven natural habitats (22 terrestrial and 5 marine) have been recorded in the area under the Natura 2000 network study. These habitats, four of which are priority, comprise a variety of characteristics and host a big diversity of life forms. It is a proposed Natura 2000 site and it will be declared as protected very soon.

 

Two hundred and sixty bird species have been recorded on the peninsula, representing 70% of the total of 370 in Cyprus. Two hundred species are migratory and use the area as a staging post, for wintering or breeding. Akrotiri beaches are one of the few nesting sites on island for Green and Loggerhead turtles, which are endangered Mediterranean species. Dozens of nests are identified every year and are protected until hatching. Various species of mammals have been recorded in the area as well, such as seals, dolphins and bats. Hundreds of insect species have been identified, including 77 endemic ones, as well as 9 endemic species of snails.

 

The flora of the area includes hundreds of plant species, many of which are rare or endemic, such as the endemic orchid Ophrys kotschyi, which is protected under the Bern Convention.

 

The hydrology and geology of the peninsula is important and sensitive at the same time. During the last decades, especially after the construction of Kourris River Dam, the wetlands of the area have been seriously affected, with risks to its significant features, such as damage to its habitats and coastal erosion.

 

The geological history of the area presents exceptional interest. Thousands of years ago Akrotiri used to be a separate island, eventually connected to the rest of Cyprus through river sedimentation and tectonic activity. Effectively, a double tombolo has been created on the eastern and western sides enclosing the area of the salt lake in the middle, which is 2.7 metres below sea level at its lowest point.