The Nature Park “Biotopes of Crete”

The island of Crete is a special place...

The Nature Park “Biotopes of Crete”

To quote Nikos Kazantzakis in his report to Greco; he says

‘Crete’s mystery is extremely deep.

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Whoever sets foot on this island senses a mysterious force branching

warmly and beneficently through his veins, senses his soul begin to grow.’

It is an island estimated to have formed over five million years ago

and is positioned centrally in the Mediterranean, equidistantly to

Europe and Africa and Asia.

Here it is possible to appreciate the diversity of nature reflected within

its evolution to its present day, the endemic species and the wide

variety of eco systems are the key features of nature, from its

mountains dominating its landscape, of which some are over 2000

meters in height and for large parts of the year retain snow on their

peaks, and at any time of the year are awe inspiring to see.

Crete’s mountainous regions creates its own weather system, higher

levels of humidity and rainfall have created over time a series of water

reservoirs and separator dams with its own eco systems, and you will

find in contrast to the drier climate of the landscape and beaches, of

which Crete is famous for, cool ravines and gorges filled with herbs,

oak forests and flora, of which includes the indigenous orchid.

It was our objective to investigate and highlight the unique gifts the

island provides with an environmental park, to provide knowledge and

to share with you our respect and admiration, and in some cases our

concerns for the beautiful miracles of nature which have evolved over

millennium on this magnificent island.

The nature park consists of separate ecosystems of ‘Biotopes’.

Originally the land, on a hill above the city of Rethymno, was chosen

for its existing rocky landscape and profusion of natural plants and

animals.

This we further enriched by bringing in plants from surrounding areas,

adding to the nature we were already protecting and tending to.

Within each ‘Biotope’ visitors can find information on each habitat,

such as the edible plants, known locally as ‘horta’, also the island

herbs. Plus information on their benefits medicinally, or as a tea;

known as ‘vrastaria’.

In the park can be found Cretan aromatic herbs, plants which provide

natural pigments used for dying cloth or wool, decorative flowers

which are dried and made into beautiful wreaths to grace doorways in

springtime, and many other indigenous plants mainly from Crete, and

some from other parts of Greece, plus plants which are rare and today

considered endangered

Among the separate biotopes and within their natural habitats live a

large number of animals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects and fish.

When we created the lake using the natural ecosystem as found in the

local gorges we found nature itself attracted more species of fauna and

became self sustaining…more frogs!

As one will find in the more traditional villages; we also have rabbits,

happily burrowing and breeding…as rabbits tend to do! Our free range

chickens are prolific layers of eggs and our garden produces healthy

organic vegetables. We produce compost as a natural fertilizer so

nothing is wasted.

We have also acquired a selection of tropical animals from individuals

who wished to offer them a more natural living environment, these

include Iguanas, snakes and turtles, each living in their own spacious

and selectively designed habitat .

Within the park there are information signs for approximately 220

species of native plants and 50 species of fauna…each sign provides

the formal Latin name, the period of time a plant will flower, its uses,

the environment it prefers as well its natural habitats.

In the park pavilion are exhibited featured books of Cretan nature and

natural products made from herbs grown in Crete.

On arrival you will be met by one of the park organizers or volunteers

who would be happy to offer a guided tour which includes information

about the plants and animals, and and would be happy to answer any

questions you may have.

The park also offers an educational program for school communities.

Our aim and objective being to help children and young people explore

the unique natural environment of the island, to achieve a better

understanding of living in harmony with nature, and everything this

can offer an inquiring mind, – and achieved not through the theoretical

but through ‘hands on’ contact within a safe and fun environment.

In nature we will find everything we require to live in harmony,

‘mother nature’ has many stories to tell; about creation, originality,

evolution, competitiveness and survival, and ultimately balance

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