Gorge of Samaria Biosphere Reserve – Greece

The Gorge of Samaria is located in the southwest of the island of Crete. Since 1962, this site has been designated as a National Park and in 1981 it was proclaimed as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Today it is also part of the European Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

The National Park of Samaria covers an area of 4,848 hectares and is surrounded by high mountain peaks and deep gorges, typical of the limestone landscape. The gorge itself is one of the longest ravines in Europe (12km). The climate of Crete and of the area is typically Mediterranean with most rain falling between October and March and a long dry period between May and September. The rainfall in this part of the island of Crete is extremely high and flash floods are a real threat in Samaria Gorge.

Due to its topography and climate, Samaria hosts a wide array of habitats and species of conservation importance. The Samaria gorge hosts 16 habitat types of the European Habitate Directive. There are 77 endemic vasular flora specia, 37 rare, and 6 vulnerable. The fauna is very rich in species and includes the endemic wild Cretan goat (Capra aegagrus cretica).

Collage of three images of Samaria Biosphere. A) Samaria Gorge. B) COBWEB partners at the reserve. C) COBWEB partners on a nature walk through the reserve.

*Images taken by COBWEB on a visit to the Gorge May 2015