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||The importance of the site lies mainly on the variety of terrestrial and marine biotopes that give rise to a significant biological diversity. In particular, the elements that comprise the ecological quality and importance of the site are:1) A variety of natural well structured and mostly well conserved vegetation types.In particular, the mattoral of Querqus coccifera, especialy at the southern part of the site but also in some patches elsewhere is at a very good conservation status in comparison with other mattorals in Crete and many species of the flora of the maquis vegetation are represented very well in it.2) The cliffs of the site host a large number of species, mainly of the typical chasmophytic flora. For example Origanum dictamnus (included in Annex II of the Directive 92/43/EEC) as well as the species of plants listed on section "other important species" are found at the gorge of Prases. Some of the species listed on the section of "other important species" are endemic to Greece and some of them endemic to Crete; 2 species are endemic to Crete and Karpathos, and Erysimun candicum ssp. candicum is endemic to Crete, Karpathos and the Cyclades.3) There are a lot of caves but their fauna is not adequatelly known yet. The endemic Cretan species Troglophyllus spinulosus (order Orthoptera) has been reported in the site. Also, two endangered species of bats have been recorded at the caves near Mylli.4) The Molluscs of the site are interesting: some species of endemic Cretan terrestrial snails have been recorded in the area (section 3.3).5) The monk seal, Monachus monachus, has been recorded at the marine area of the eastern part of the site. There are some underwater caves at the coast between the beach of Scaletta and the mouth of Geropotamos river, which form appropriate habitats for this endagered species.6) Caretta caretta, an endagered species of sea turtle, uses the beach of Rethymnon to nest. The beach from Perivolia to Scaletta is one of the three most important nesting beaches in Greece and one of the most important in the Mediteranean sea. A mean of 410 nests per nesting season were reported after a five year monitoring project by the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. Α significant percentage of the nests in the known nesting beaches in Greece are found here. The nesting density is also very high (average more than 35 nests per Km). Nests of the sea turtle have also been recorded at the small beach of Geropotamos mouth.7) The gorge of Prases and the surrounding area have been recognised as a very good biotope for reptiles. Mauremis caspica is also found in good numbers at the wetland of Geropotamos. Elaphe situla and Mauremis caspica and some more species (listed on section 3.3), all rare and legally protected at national and international level and occurring at the site. With the exception of Tarentola mauritanica and Hemidactylus turcicus, all the others are found in the site at the borders of the species distribution. 8) All the amphibians of Crete, which are threatened and protected species, are found in the site. Bufo viridis is quite common in the area. Hyla arborea kretensis is a narrow endenic of Crete.9) All the Mammals occurring in the site (section 3.3) are legally protected. Meles meles arcalus is narrow endemic of Crete, included in the National Red Data Book. Also, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum creticum (included in section 3.2.c. as Rhinolophus ferrum-equinum) is a subspecies endemic to Crete.10) The avifauna is also important: Many species of birds have been recorded at the site. Most of them are migratory species. The wetland of Geropotamos is a very important area for them, especialy for Craradriformes, Herons and some Passeriformes. Alcedo atthis, which is a species protected by Annex I of the Directive 79/409/EEC, passes through the shores in big numbers. A colony of Gyps fulvus at the gorge of Prases and the presence of Hieraaetus fasciatus have also been recorded in the site.11) The site combines the ecological importance with archaeological, historical and aesthetic value. Such sites of interest are the village Maroulas, which is an important and rare example of the Middle Ages architecture in Crete, the old water mills at the now uninhabited old village Kato Myli, an example of a traditional use of the water in Crete, are still maintained.OTHER IMPORTANT SPECIES WITH MOTIVATION DPlants: Centaurea redempta, Ferulago thyrsiflora, Lomelosia albocincta (included in 3.3. by its synonym Scabiosa labocincta), Medicago strasseri, and Sesleria doerfleri are protected by Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81). Medigago strasseri is also included in the CORINE checklist of threatent plants.Lactuca acanthifolia (= Scariola acanthifolia) is found in Ydra, Cyclades, East Aegean Islands and only in SW Turkey out of Greece. Reptiles: All the species listed on section 3.3. are protected by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81) and by the Bern Convention, six some of them included annex II, strictly protected, and Tarentola mauritanica and Hemidactylus turcicus included in annex III. Natrix tesselata is included in the CORINE checklist of threatent animals. Amphibians: Bufo viridis and Hyla arborea kretensis are protected by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81) and by the Bern Convention.Mammals: Meles meles, Martes foina, Crocidura suaveolens, Erinaceus concolor (Synonym: Erinaceus europeus) and Mustela nivalis are protected bythe Bern Convention (annex III). The latter three are also protected by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81).