Cyprus is an island with diverse landscapes, due to both its varied climate and geology and the presence of man since 8200 AD. High forests cover about 17% of the island, extending mainly on the Troodos and Pentadactylos ranges. The lower hills are covered by shrubs alternating with built-
The vegetation types, natural or not, including cultivations (especially traditional ones), constitute important habitats for rare plants.
The thermophilous Calabrian pine (Pinus brutia) forms the most extended forests, from sea level up to about 1400 m, and covers the Troodos and Pentadactylos mountain ranges and part of Akamas Peninsula. Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) forests occur mainly on Pentadactylos. The semi-
Various types of scrubs are dominant in the thermo-
Dry grasslands develop in pastures and in scrub and forest openings. A unique peat grassland (a fen) occurs in only two locations on Troodos, at 1600 -
The sandy coastal zone is generally narrow, with ammophilous communities on low embryonic and shifting dunes. Extended dune systems, including stabilised dunes with shrubs and dune slacks, develop in few places (e.g. Apostolos Andreas at Karpasia and Akamas), notably in connection with halophytic wetlands, i.e. Famagusta, Agia Eirini and the Salt Lakes of Akrotiri and Larnaka.
A discontinuous and mostly narrow line of riparian shrub and forest develops along the numerous streams that flow through the island, often in the midst of cultivated land. Standing freshwater bodies are only artificial storage basins and dams, yet hydrophilous vegetation has established at most of them.
The rocky habitats include chasmophytic communities developing on limestone (Akamas, Pentadactylos), ultramaffic rock (Troodos) and wet rocks, and also endemic serpentinophilous chamaephytic communities (Troodos, Akamas and Lemesos Forest).
This great diversity in landscapes and habitat types is reflected on the number of different habitat types existing in Cyprus that are included in the Appendix I of the European Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). More specifically, 52 different habitat types of Annex I of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) have been identified in Cyprus, out of which five exist exclusively in the island.