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Zelkova abelicea : Conservation of Zelkova abelicea in Crete (2014-2020)

Conservation of Zelkova abelicea in Crete

Zelkova abelicea (Lam.) Boiss. (Ulmaceae) is of outmost scientific and conservation interest as it is a Tertiary relict species and an endemic tree of the Mediterranean island of Crete, Greece. It is found in open, mountain forest communities between ~800 and ~1,800 m above sea level in all mountain massifs of Crete in the Lefka Ori, Psiloritis, Kedros, Dikti and Thripti. All these populations are significantly threatened by overgrazing and browsing by goats and sheep, soil erosion, drought, fire and the cutting of young branches for making “Katsounes”, the traditional Cretan walking sticks. Given the level of threat to various populations, Z. abelicea has been included as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is protected by the Greek legislation (Presidential Decree 67/1981), the Bern Convention (Appendix I) and is also included in Appendices II and IV of the European Habitats Directive (92/43).

In 2010, the Botanic Garden of the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), in collaboration with the Natural History Museum Fribourg and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (United Kingdom), initiated an interdisciplinary project (project ZELKOVA) to undertake the scientific review and coordinated conservation actions on the relict tree genus Zelkova.

In 2014, the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania in partnership with the University of Fribourg and in collaboration with the four Forest Directorates of Crete (Chania, Rethymno, Heraklio and Lasithi) implemented the first phase (2014-2016) of a project entitled: “Conservation of Zelkova abelicea in Crete” and are currently implementing its second phase (2017-2020). This partership is funded by the Fondation Franklinia (www.fondationfranklinia.org).

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Press Release Friday 20-05-2022

May 21st is the European Natura 2000 Network Day. It aims to make European citizens more aware of the natural riches the Natura 2000 network holds, of the conservation work they carry out and of the benefits brought by the protected nature to people and to our planet. In this framework, the Natural Environment & Climate Change Agency and the Management Unit of Samaria National Park and Protected Areas of Western Crete announce that on Saturday 21st of May 2022, the entry to the National Park of Samaria will be without an entrance fee. Visiting hours remain the same.