National Marine Park (Sporades) - Ecotourism
The enormous value of the region's ecosystems was acknowledged towards the end of the 70s, when attempts were made to protect it. In May 1992, the National Marine Park of Alonnisos and Northern Sporades was founded. It includes all the Northern Sporades except for Skiathos and Skopelos islands.
The Park is not an enclosed area. It is a conservation area of roughly 2,200 km2, probably the largest marine conservation area in the Mediterranean.
Its purpose is to protect the ecosystems and to promote the development in Alonnisos (the only inhabited island in the park) within renewable parameters and without forced intervention.
Since 1990, MOm collaborates with the Hellenic Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, the Ministry of Mercantile Marine, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Prefecture of Magnesia and the Municipality of Alonnisos to conduct regular briefings that inform and sensitize residents and visitors.
The official administrative body of the park was founded in 2003, and includes representatives from all the above bodies and is responsible for managing the park.
Habitat types in the Marine Park
Twenty habitat types have been recorded in the marine park area, and are included in Community Directive 92/43/EEC
- Posidonia beds. Fikiades (seaweed-like expanses) grow on the sandy sea bed near the shore and are under priority conservation.
- Reefs. Rocky projections on the sea bed that attract a rich array of marine life.
- Coastal lagoons. Under priority conservation.
- Annual vegetation of drift lines.
- Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi).
- Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coast with endemic Limonium spp. Sea cliffs (with various species of Limonium growing in crevices) are common in the Northern Sporades
- Sandbanks which are covered by sea water all the time.
- Embryonic shifting dunes. Small sand-hills behind beaches.
- Mediterranean temporary ponds. Seasonal ponds that form only in winter and spring and are priority conservation areas.
- Arborescent matorral Juniperus spp. Evergreen juniper shrubs grow sparsely on a few slopes of the islands.
- Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-steppe brush: formation or plant. Communities with Euphorbia dedroides. Large shrubs growing between bays and vertical rocks - they appear only in the central and northern Aegean region.
- Sarcopoterium spinosum phrygana. Phrygana that are common along the coastline of Southern Greece, but do not exist outside the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of the Thero-Brachypodietea. This rare habitat is under priority conservation.
- Screes of the Balkan peninsula. These screes are scarce in the region and can be found at the base of cliffs.
- Calcereous rocky slopes with chasmopliytic vegetation. Rocky slopes are common on several islands and are home to endemic plant species.
- Caves not open to the public. A precious habitat for bats and cave-dwelling fauna.
- Submerged or partially submerged sea caves. Nothern Sporades' most valuable asset because it provides refuge to the Mediterranean monk seal.
- Olea and Ceratonia forests. Fairly common in the area.
- Quercus ilex forests. Common in the region and significant for the Mediterranean bird species (especially for wintering).
- Mediterranean pine forests with endemic Mesogean pines including the Pinus mugo and Pinus leucodermis. Common in Alonnisos, but not on the rest of the islands.
The National Marine Park was founded with the following purpose:
- To protect and manage the environment as a natural heritage site and a valuable national asset
- To protect one of the most important habitats of the Mediterranean monk seal in the Mediterranean
- To protect rare and endangered species of fauna and flora
- To develop the region, within the parameters of renewable natural resources
What is protected:
The Park is divided into three zones, each with a different level of protection:
- The Core: Covering an area of 70 km2, it includes the uninhabited island of Piperi and a zone of three nautical miles surrounding it. Human presence and activity is prohibited here, except for the purposes of scientific research and management of the conservation area
- Zone A: An area of 1,480 km2 that includes seven uninhabited islands, a few islets, and the sea surrounding them. Rules that apply to human activities differ from island to island.
- Zone B: An area of 650 km2 that includes Alonnisos Island, four uninhabited islands and the sea surrounding them. Special rules apply to fishing, but otherwise most human activities are allowed here.
Part of the management's role is to correctly inform visitors about the conservation area. Information Centres came into operation in the Northern Sporades in 1990 to serve this purpose. An Information Centre welcomes visitors to the conservation area, sensitises and informs the public about the natural environment, informs the public about rules in the marine park and guides visitors to partake in sedate tourist activities.
- Patitiri Information Centre
Found in the harbour, it presents information on the marine park, the Mediterranean monk seal, and the national program for its conservation. It provides information boards with articles and pictures, slide shows, recent videos, an environmental library (around 1,400 volumes, CD-ROMs, videos, and educational material), and a children's area..
- Steni Vala Information Centre
Found in the courtyard of the Seal Rehabilitation Centre, it has mobile presentation boards with pictures and explanatory texts on the marine park, the Mediterranean monk seal, and the national program for its conservation.
- Geraka Information Centre
Found in the Research Centre of Geraka, on the north tip of Alonnisos Island. It has brightly coloured information boards with pictures and texts about the marine park and the Mediterranean monk seal, a model of a seal's terrestrial habitat, a young seal's skeleton, and an embalmed new-born pup. Videos of the Mediterranean monk seal are shown in the specially designed conference-presentation facilities.
- Skopelos Information Centre
A prefabricated wooden kiosk with retractable boards that have informative material. Every summer, it is set up at the harbour of Skopelos in a space provided by the municipality.
Information - Photographs: "Koinoniki" Newspaper - Magnesia article
For your stay in Alonissos island, you can book a room in one of the hotels and Bed & Breakfast inns.
In Alonissos town (Chora), as well as in many other areas of the island, there are hotels and accommodations of various categories and types (rooms to let, residences, Bed & Breakfast inns, studios, hostels, guesthouses and furnished apartments) that can satisfy every visitor's demands and needs for a pleasant and enjoyable stay.
You will find wonderful hotels, rooms and apartments to let of all categories and price ranges.
There is an every day coastal connection with Agios Konstantinos and Volos (5h and 30m) - including stops Skiathos and Skopelos.
Alonissos also connects with Skyros and Evia all year long while in the summer there is a link with Thessaloniki.
Alonissos is reachable through the port of Volos (2h and 30m) and Agios Konstantinos (2h and 40m) through Skiathos and Skopelos.
In the summer you can also reach Alonnisos through Evia, Cental Macedonia and Halkidiki.
In the summertime the public bus does regular routes from the port (Patitiri) to Chorio (Old Alonnisos) and to Steni Vala.
Also, there are taxi on the island.
See details for
For your convenience, you can use the route map on the field “Routes” with information about the mileage, the time you need and the route you will follow, selecting the points of interest.