Updated: Sep 22
In a close distance East of Elafonissi, Kedrodasos (Juniper Forest) is located. An amazing beach full of Juniper trees (mistakenly confused with cedars) and sand dunes. The Juniper Forests of Crete form some of the most important eco-systems of Greece.
In our blogpost, I-want-pink-sand, Elafonissi, we highlighted the problems that the over-tourism wave - in the name of ''development'' - has created to this sensitive eco-system, although it is included in the European Union's protected environmental network, better known as NATURA 2000.
We analyzed the status that dominates this place, which unfortunately tends to be the accepted modern reality. We made practical suggestions on how things can change & evolve for the better.
Thankfully, many, many other people all around the world, like us, have a different opinion & vision.
Now we'll take a closer look at Elafonissi's sister beach, known as Kedrodassos. Kedrodassos, in the Greek language, means the Juniper Forest and comes from the words ΚΕΔΡΟΣ (kedros) = Juniper & ΔΑΣΣΟΣ (dassos) = Forest.
Human presence in sensitive environments & eco systems result in continuous degradation of these areas. Over the last years, through the rapid expansion of the internet and several apps such as Google Maps, there are practically no hidden places left on our planet. The fact that all of us have the ability to instantly post pictures online of these hidden paradises attracts even more visitors and lets the deterioration begin.
The situation in Kedrodassos is no exception to this phenomenon.
The beach is full with juniper trees (mistakenly confused with cedars) and sand dunes. The juniper species are Juniperus oxycedrus* subsp. macrocarpa and Juniperus phoenicea*.
All the main areas of Juniper woods in Crete are under a protection network that called Junicoast . Although these areas are located in isolated places, they still receive too many visitors every summer.
If you plan to visit the place or you already have been there, you should note that the trees are very fragile and need our respect. Unintentionally and without realizing it, visitors sometimes cause severe damage to the plants. The most common harmful acts are breaking woods for lighting fires, camping under the shade (thus destroying young shoots) and clearing dead branches.
Even if branches of the cedars seem dry, they are alive and grow extremely slowly; by only 1cm / year. The forest of Kedrodassos covers a big area of 11 hectares and it is truly magical.
What isn't magical, is what the visitors leave behind after their long or short stays.
In short, the situation is unacceptable: daily visitors & free campers who pollute the environment, put their tents on top of the juniper roots & cut branches in order to prepare their barbecue!!
There are speed boats all around the shore and even people spearfishing just a few meters from the swimmers. We saw a 6 year old child holding a speargun!! Crazy, isn't it?
The picture completes with thousands of flies flying around & toilet paper behind the bushes.
It is totally understandable that people want to visit & experience this unique place. We, humans, need to have a direct connection with nature. This is in our DNA. We also need to respect nature to a maximum.
If this earth paradise gets destroyed, how could we possibly replace it? Or, are we moving on to the next available paradise and repeat?
Many things can be done in order to have a win-win situation.
First of all: PICK UP YOUR GARBAGE!!! If you don't do it, probably no one else will.
Carry them back to your car when you leave & throw them at the first garbage bin that you'll meet on the road. Everybody will do the same, unfortunately, so we just keep re-producing the same problem.
Do not light up fires.
Do not cut tree branches or the sensitive sand flowers.
Be careful of where you step. If you decide to stay overnight, sleep under the stars. Tents harm the juniper roots; it might not be visible to the human eye, it does harm them.
No speed boats close to the shore. It isn't only the pollution they create, but also for safety reasons in case of an accident, it'll take time for a rescue team to get there (the same applies for the spearfishing).
Use of non-chemical sun protection creams only. Getting in the sea covered with standard creams create a film of chemical oil on the sea's surface and are toxic to all sea life. Choose creams with sea-safe certifications.
One very effective action is for a non-profit organization to be created, under the supervision of local authorities, who would be responsible to educate the visitors & protect this sensitive eco-system. A small symbolic entrance ticket will suffice to cover the expenses. This is already happened in the Samaria Gorge. Why can't it be done elsewhere?
We strive to shed light & raise awareness about these problems to all visitors of Chania. We want to discuss these subjects openly and through our Travel Agency Bonnie and Clyde Urban Tours to promote eco-responsible travel at a human pace.
On the other hand, we promote only non-touristy tours & activities by creating experiences to remember, always environmental friendly.
Our credits to https://www.cretanbeaches.com/en/flora/junipers
for all the information we used in this article about the Juniper trees & Kedrodassos beach.
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