Erimitis, a wild natural area at the northeast coast of Corfu island, is the nearest spot to the mainland. Therefore, it has often been described as a passage for many species to the island. The marine part is known as “North Corfu Channel” and the distance towards the coast of Albania is about 2 km. It is remarkable that at the Albanian coast, the National park of Butrint exist, a protected area with a big lagoon of 1600 ha, sandy and stony coasts, marshes, wet meadows, densely forested hills, mountains, small lakes, rivers and a big natural channel to the Ionian Sea, the “Vivari Channel” (Bego et al., 2012). This area has a rich diverse flora of over 900 species and a special fauna with 246 bird-, 9 reptile-, 25 amphibian- and 39 mammal-species including rare and endangered species.
The position of Erimitis is obviously very important and special. In fact, the passage of different species to Corfu island has been confirmed in various studies*. Specifically, Ailianos has stated that in the 3rd century AD deers came to Corfu through the Corfu Channel. Also, according to Mastraca, at 1630, occasionally a wolf appeared at the mountain in the northeast Corfu, for which people assumed that it came by swimming from Albania’s coast. But even according to Gasteratos (2020), seven wild boars have been passed through the Corfu Channel to the island in 1984. Further, based on Gemillet (1993 & 1998), there is a possibility of individuals exchange between the populations of Lutra lutra of Corfu and the National Park of Butrint or just an enrichment of Corfu’s population.
Some interesting descriptions of Corfu’s vegetation, with the Erimitis area as an example, describe its similarity with the vegetation of the mainland. Many plants produce seeds that are dispersed by the air or the water, but even plants exist from which seeds are dispersed through animals (Stiles, 2000). Animals may acquire seeds actively through selecting different fruits or passively by seed attachment to fur and feathers. Therefore, some plants species could have been transported to the island through animals that have arrived in Erimitis. Taking into consideration of all the above, Erimitis is a natural area characterized by high value in the conservation of Corfu’s fauna and flora.
Elena Papadopoulou – M.Sc. Landscape Ecology
*Studies provided by the environmentalist – forester Giannis (Ioannis) Gasteratos
- Ailianos, C. (3rd century AD): Περί ζώων ιδιότητος – On the characteristics of animals. In Άπαντα, 4th volume, Kaktos Editions
- Bego, F., J. Malltezi, R. Kola, A. Zotaj & T. Bino (2012): Biodiversity of Butrint National Park, UNESCO and Ramsar site: Its status, threats and priority needs for conservation. Conference Paper, International Conference on Marine and Coastal Ecosystems, Tirana
- Stiles, E.W. (2000): Animals as seed dispersers, in Fenner, M. (ed.) Seeds – The ecology of regeneration in plant communities, 2nd edition (Chapter 5, pp. 111-124). CAB International.
- Gasteratos, Ι. (2020, March 6-8): Changes at the ecosystems of Corfu – Some examples. Scientific-Educational Conference “Biodiversity – Climate Change & Impacts on island ecosystems”, Management Body of Kalama- Acheronta-Kerkyra, Ionian University, Corfu
- Gremillet, X. (1998): Otter (Lutra lutra) Surveys on Corfu island and at lakes Prespa (Greece). Proc. VIIth International Otter Colloquium, Laz
- Gremillet, X. (1993): Field survey of Lutra lutra on Corfu island (Greece). IUCN Otter Spec. Group Bull. 8: 39-42, Sizun
- Mastraca, S. 1630 (1869): Descrizione dell’ isola di Corfu. Venezia.