National Marine Park
Brief Description of Zone A
The National Marine Park of Alonissos, is the first to be founded at Greece. It is situated in Eastern Central Greece, in the region of the North Sporades Islands, which belongs administravely to the district of Skopelos in the Prefecture of Magnesia.
Alonissos is the largest island in the Park. The highest level of local government within the Park is the County Council of Alonissos. The Park also encompresses six smaller islands (Peristera, KyraPanagia, Gioura, Skantzoura, Piperi) and 22 uninhabited islands and rocky outcrops.
FOUNDED: By Presidential Decree G.G. 519/92 on 28/5/92
AREA: Zone A (strict protection): 1587 Km² - Zone B (protected area): 678 Km²
COMMUNITIES: Restricted to Zone B. The largest of these are Patitiri, Palia Alonissos, Votsi and Steni Vala.
GEOLOGY: Limestone rock dominated the area. Its main charasteristics are the steep rocky slopes which run down to the sea and the caves, which are an important part of the habitat of the monk seal. Different types of soil are encountered.
CLIMATE: Meditarrenean, with a wet winter and dry summer. The average annual temperature is 17º C and the average rainfall is about 515mm.
SPECIAL CONDITIONS: The geographic isolation of the area, its morphology, the limited degree of human interference and the excellent condition of the natural environment make the land and sea areas of the Park an ideal habitat for many threatened species of plants and animals.
Brief Description of Zone A
PERMITTED ACTIVITIES: In areas where approaching is permitted, swimming, observation of the sea bed, amateur photography and filming are allowed. There are specific restrictions on amateur fishing. Hunting is strictly forbidden in the entire Zone A except for the island of Yioura, where it is allowed only if special permission is granted. Approach to certain islands in the zone requires special permission from the responsible authority.
KYRA PANAYIA: The ancient island of Alonissos who is also referred to the later years as Pelagos or Pelagonisi, is the first island to be met in the northern part of the Park, is hilly, with a rounded relief. Two deep bays, Agios Petros (St. Peter) to the south and Planitis to the north, are safe natural heavens. The island is mainly covered by dense macchia vegetation. The interior of the island consists of areas covered by holly (Quercus coccifera), small open areas, rocks and hilltops with a view of the surrounding country. In the east of the island is a recently repaired post-Vyzantine Monastery dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary. The points where landing is allowed are shown on the accompanying map.
YIOURA: Proceeding northeast, the next island one meets is Gioura. Its relief is striking and bold and its precipitus, rocky shores awe-inspiring. Phrygana dominate the island, which also has areas covered by holly. The "cave of Kyklopa" in the interior is of particular beaty. The rich avifauna consists of 31 species and several mating pairs of birds of prey. A species of wild goat (Capra aegagrus) is also found on Gioura. Many believe that this is endemic to the island. The main reason for the declaration of the island as a Scientific Research Refuge and the special regulations which apply to it is the protection of the above species and of the caves which are part of the habitat of the monk seal.
PSATHOURA: This is the north-easternmost point in the Park and its landscape is completely different. It is a small, flat island of volcanic origin and may be visited freely. All the activities referred to above(swimming, observation, filming etc.) are allowed. Clusters of lentisc and areas covered with heather make up the barren landscape. It is worth noting that plant species not found in the rest of the Park may be seen here, e.g. the sea lily (Pancratium maritimum), the Hemlock and the brooms (Imula viscosa). In the south, the white sands of Mandraki contrast the black rocks of andesite. In the east, the visitor can make out what is considered as the remains of an ancient, sunken city. In the north, the large lighthouse built in the last century by French engineers, signals to the international shipping routes of the North Aegean.
PIPERI: The island of Piperi is the core of the Park and is strictly protected. Its approach by any vessel without special permission is forbidden. The aim of the restrictions is the protection of the most important part of the habitat of the monk seal in the Park, and also of the birds of prey which live and reproduce on the inaccesible rocks of the island, which are also home to some rare plant species. Piperi has precipitous, rocky shores and its vegetation is dominated by pine forests, although there are also some holly, frygana and chasmophytes to be found on the cliffs. There are 33 species of birds and it is estimated that the island is home to about 350 - 400 pairs of Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae).
SKANTZOURA: Skantzoura is a flat island with an even relief. The series of low hills end on shores of white marble. It is covered by macchia vegetation and frygana, and there is a forest of low cedars (Juniperus sp.) Skantzoura and the nearby rocky outcrops of Strongilo and Polemika constitute an important habitat for Audouin's Gull and Eleonora's falcon. It has been a monastic centre in the past. The monastery located in the centre of the island, is close nowadays.