The dazzling natural beauty of the area of Elafonisos has led to it been designated as a Site of Community Importance for the NATURA 2000 network (GR2540002) - in accordance with Council Directive 92/43 / EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.
About 220 species of plants have been recorded, 9 of which are extremely rare and 65 fauna species 13 of which are protected and 8 of them are threatened with extinction.
Characteristic of the beaches are the "low moving dunes" that grow at the point where the wave reaches the coast. In this zone are found the species of Ammophila arenaria, Eryngium maritimum and a remarkable population of Pancratium maritumum, the endangered “lily of the sea”.
On the extensive beaches of Elafonisos and on the sand the predominant species is the Juniperus oxykedrus ssp Marcocarpa, one of the most rare in the Aegean and the Mediterranean. In Elafonisos we find them in the broader sandy area of the village-settlement, in Lefki and especially in Sarakiniko, in Kato Nisi, the beach of Panagia and along the area between the village and the Katonisi, as well as in rocky lands between the settlement and Lefki.
One of the endemic plants, that exists in no other part of the world, is the species of Saponaria of Jagel (Saponaria jagelii). It grows on the sandy beaches on the west side of the island in two remote and limited populations. It is on the list of 50 island Mediterranean plants that are endangered and need protection. A notable endemic plant is also Silene integripetala elafonesiaca.
In Elafonisos, other types of habitats are of exceptional importance, such as the Sarcopoterium spinosum rocks, rugged rocky coasts, shallow bays and the well-known poseidonia, which covers significant areas of the sandy bottom around the island. A typical poseidonia point is the area around Pavlopetri.
The most widespread animals in Elafonisos are the hares (Lepus Europaeus), the wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), the badgers and the hedgehogs (Erinaceous europaeus). There are also turtles, lizards, snakes (Balkan whip snake, platyceps najadum, Vipera berus, viper), frogs, snails and scorpions.
Several bird species have been recorded in the area. Their numbers tend to increase, especially during the migratory periods, since Elafonisos is located in the migratory corridor of Africa, Crete, Antikythera, Kythera and the Peloponnese. The European turtle dove, the hoopoe and the partridge are the most common species of birds in the skies of Elafonisos. In non-wooded areas, such as rocky slopes, there are predators as: eagles, buzzards and falcons (Falco tinnunculus). Mediterranean meadows with evergreen broadleaf and frýgana also host many species nesting in shrubs. Regular visitors, mainly on the beach of Panagia, are the European herring gulls, who often develop a friendly relationship with the local fishermen.
Amphibians and Reptiles
Many species of amphibians and reptiles have been recorded in Elafonisos but also in the surrounding area. The protected species, the sea turtle caretta-caretta, is reproduced in the area of Lake Stroggyli, and has also been encountered on the beach of Panagia and Kalogeras. The freshwater turtle (Mauremis caspica) was found on Lake Stroggyli in places where there are springs and fresh water. In Elafonisos there are various species of snakes and lizards. Among the lizards, the rare Greek lizard Lacerta Graeca, an endemic species of the Peloponnese, is of particular interest.
Formerly, in rocky places around the island, we encountered seals, the most threatened mammal in Europe. It is worth noting that the wider area of Malea is a refuge for the Monachus Monachus, monk seal. In the sea area of Elafonisos there have also been cetaceans, mainly dolphins, which often follow the ships and the boats. The species of these mammals are Rhinocerophus, Tursopius truncatus. Off into the open seas surrounding the island, fishermen have also encountered whales.
A wide variety of bio-communities, biotopes and rich vegetation characterize the marine ecosystem of the area. Many fish species and an endless list of flora live and grow in the marine area of Elafonisos.