Samaria (Lefka Ori) National Park
The National Park of Samaria (Lefka Ori) is an important area, which has received many distinctions (CoE Diploma of Protected Areas, UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Natura 2000 site, etc.), due to its intense geomorphological profile, the biodiversity it hosts, but also because of the “mountain culture” that it preserves. It represents a mosaic of different terrestrial & marine habitats set in an altitude range that starts at 2,453 m and ends at the sea. The main landscapes of the area include pine and cypress tree forests, phryganas, alpine ecosystems, riparian ecosystems, caves and other karstic formations, steep cliffs, coastal & marine habitats. It is home to a large number of flora species (1090 recorded species & subspecies) many of which are endemic. Emblematic species of fauna include Capra aegagrus cretica, Gypaetus barbatus, and Monachus monachus. The protected area has a size of 58,484 ha. It includes the mountain range “Lefka Ori”, which is also the main watershed of Western Crete. There are not many human settlements in the area, and the permanent population is less than 4,500 people. Today’s local economy is mostly based on pastoralism and tourism.
The official declaration of the new National Park (Lefka Ori) is pending. However, the core zone of the National Park (Gorge of Samaria) is a National Woodland Park since 1962. The new National Park is divided into five different management zones: core zone, species-habitats, ecological landscape, traditional landscape, natural resources (transition zone).
The operation of the Management Body of the Samaria-Western Crete National Park (MB) began in 2008. The MB is a legal entity of private law supervised by the Ministry of Environment and Energy. The information provided below refers to projects implemented by the MB.