Although the landscape of Asterousia looks bare and barren, in fact, the area has high ecological value and for this reason, it is included in the NATURA 2000 network. This is the place where the last bearded vulture populations in Greece live, a big scavenger-predator which is endangered and protected by a Community Directive. Asterousia is one of the last refuges of the bearded vulture (Gypaetus Barbatus) in Crete and Greece in general.
Besides the rare bearded vulture, a total of 192 bird species have been recorded so far in Asterousia, some of which are permanent, some migratory. Among the birds of Asterousia are included the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), the golden eagle (Aquila Chrysaetos), the Bonelli's eagle, the peregrine falcon and the black falcon. In Asterousia, however, endemic species live too such as the snail Albinaria Terebra.
As for the flora, the arid climate of Asterousia, with minimal rainfall and high temperatures, combined with human activity (overgrazing) result in the prevalence of brushwood. However, there are exceptions, such as the southern slopes of Kofinas covered with rugged pine forest that reaches the monastery of Koudoumas.
Diving enthusiasts will have the opportunity to admire the rich underwater ecosystem of Asterousia which includes large Posidonia meadows (Posidonia Oceanica) and other species such as corals, sponges, anemones etc.
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Source: Natural History Museum