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Asterousia Mountain Range Biosphere Reserve, Greece

Uninterrupted human presence since the Neolithic Age has left Asterousia, in the southern part of Crete, with a rich archaeological heritage of scattered human settlements set in mountainous landscape of natural and semi-natural habitats, as well as natural areas of high ecological value hosting more 55% of the island’s animal and plant species. Asterousia Mountain Range is the southernmost mountainous area of Europe.

Designation date: 2020


Regional network:  EuroMab

Ecosystem-based network: Mountains



    Surface : 125,741.14 ha (Terrestrial: 37,165.01 ha; Marine: 88,576.13 ha)

    • Core area(s): 5,289.60 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 52,418.46 (Terrestrial: 9,894.87 ha; Marine: 42,523.59 ha)
    • Transition zone(s): 68,033.08 ha (Terrestrial: 21,980.54 ha; Marine: 46,052.54 ha)

    Location: 34.97280944; 25.01742324

    Administrative Authorities

    Hellenic Committee of Man and the Biosphere Programme
    3 Academia's Avenue
    10027 Athens

    Tel.: +30 210-3317127

    Email: N/A

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    Ecological Characteristics

    The Asterousia Mountain Range Biosphere Reserve is located on the largest of all the Greek islands, Crete. The mountainous island runs 260 kilometres long and features four large mountain ranges. The biosphere reserve is found at the southernmost area of the island and includes the highest peak, Kofinas, which measures 1,231 metres tall. Soaring above these peaks, rare iconic avifauna such as the Bearded Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle and the Bonelli’s Eagle can be seen. 50% of all animal and plant species recorded on the island of Crete can be found within this biosphere reserve which creates a place of importance for biodiversity in the Mediterranean. 



    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The Asterousia Mountain Range Biosphere reserve is home to ancient human history dating back to the Neolithic Age. The 6,000 inhabitants engage mostly in agriculture and livestock farming, however a small but growing number are active in hospitality, catering and tourist services. Sheep and goat farming have provided the inhabitants of this region with income support from the products made from their milk and wool for generations. This biosphere reserve holds ancient dwellings found in mountainous, semi-mountainous and coastal areas, as well as in rock-shelters and caves that date back to 3,200-2,000 BC that show that how human presence has lived in harmony with nature for generations in this region.



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    Last updated: November 2020