The cedars of Crete (Juniperus macrocarpa and Juniperus phoenicea) form some of the most important ecosystems in Greece, the cedar groves on the dunes of southern Crete. The ecological importance of the dunes is enormous for the biodiversity and the existence of rare animals and plants.
Due to the continuous degradation of these fragile ecosystems by the human presence, these areas have been included in the protection program Junicoast. Areas with cedars, although located in isolated places, because of their unprecedented natural beauty, receive many visitors each summer. These visitors, unintentionally and without knowing it, sometimes cause severe damage to the cedars. The most common acts are breaking woods for lighting fires, camping under the shade (and yet destroying young shoots) and cleaning of dead branches. However, the branches of the cedars seem dry, but are alive and grow extremely slowly (1cm / year).
The main areas of dunes and cedar forests in Crete are located in Kedrodasos (near Elafonisi lagoon), in Falassarna, in Gavdos (Sarakiniko, Agios Ioannis, Lavrakas), Chrissi islet and Grammenos Cape in Paleochora. Other cedar forests in Greece are found in Milos, Naxos, Paros, Polyaegos and Rhodes.
The dominant cedar of the Cretan habitats is the common juniper (Juniperus macrocarpa). Smaller clusters of the Phoenician Juniper are also met (Juniperus phoenicea).
The species Juniperus macrocarpa develops extremely slowly and is a perennial species. It is estimated that there are trees older than 300 years. Although seed production is a very large, only a small percentage of seeds are healthy, only a small percentage of healthy seeds are likely to grow, and only a small percentage of new shoots manages to survive on the first year. The regeneration of cedar woods in all areas of Crete is minimal or zero, except the cedar wood of Lavrakas, in Gavdos. The species Juniperus phoenicea is found mainly in areas with bedrock on the limits of the dunes.
Learn more about junipers protection in Crete at www.junicoast.gr