Kotychi–Strofylia lies in Western Peloponnese, shared between the prefectures of Ilia and Achaia. It is a magnificent place for nature, fauna and flaura with many unique characteristics.
The protected area extends from Mavra Vouna of Araxos Cape in the north to the salt pans of Lehena in the south, and from the Patras-Pyrgos highway to the Ionian Sea in the west. Almost the entire western front is occupied with coastal shifting dunes of exceptional natural beauty, extending for tenths of metres in the interior, sparsely vegetated with sand plants and dwarf pines.
A system of slow running or still water bodies isolated or seasonally connected crosses all over the area. The outflow to the sea is inhibited by the natural barrier of the coastal dunes, and the main water bulk forms three lagoons, Kotychi, Prokopos and Pappas from south to north.
The Lamia Marsh, Lehena saltpans, Kentros canal and smaller pools, seasonal freshwater or brackish marshes and ponds inside the forest complete the wetland network. Under these conditions the largest and most beautiful Umbrella (Stone) Pine forest in Greece – that of Strofylia – evolved and thrived. It is both a natural attraction and a priority habitat, specially protected at a European level.
The dunes, wetlands and the forest have all been evaluated as important for the conservation of nature and biodiversity of the European Union. Kotychi-Strofylia is a globally important site for birds, organisms that are among the most precious natural components and an established indicator of ecosystem health and quality of life. Birds include migrating Glossy Ibises, Ruffs, various Sandpipers, black-winged stilts, pratincoles and much more. (See the section in bird watching for more detail).
Kotychi-Strofylia is also an important area for amphibians and reptiles. Seven species of amphibians and 23 reptiles have been recorded in the area. Seven reptile species are included in the Habitats Directive among which are the Loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta, a priority species that nests in the area. The European Pond Terrapin Emys orbicularis and the Stripe-necked Terrapin Mauremys caspica are well represented in the area. In addition, the area is very important for the Hermann’s Tortoise Testudo hermanni and the Marginated Tortoise Testudo marginata. The presence of the endemics of Peloponnese, Greek Algyroides Algyroides moreoticus, Slow Worm Anguis cephallonicus, and Epeirus frog Rana epeirotica is very significant. The site also hosts the rare amphibians Eastern Spadefoot Pelobates syriacus and Smooth Newt Triturus vulgaris.
The National Park of Kotychi-Strofylia includes two Sites of Community Importance of the European network NATURA 2000: site GR2330006 Kotychi Lagoon and site GR 2320001 Kalogria Lagoon, Strofylia forest and Lamia Marsh. The lagoons are RAMSAR wetlands of international importance and Specially Protected Areas for birds. The Management Body of Kotychi-Stroflyia was founded in 2002 and its task is the conservation management and sustainable development of the protected area.