The habitat type "9590* Cedrus brevifolia forests (Cedrosetum brevifolia)" is an endemic habitat type of Cyprus, since it occurs only in Cyprus and nowhere else in the world. The habitat 9590* is included in the Annex I of the Directive 92/43/EEC, where it is characterised as a priority habitat type, which means that sustainable management practices need to be implemented in order to improve its conservation status.
The "Cedrus brevifolia forests (Cedrosetum brevifolia)" exists exclusively within the boundaries of the Natura 2000 site, namely "KOILADA KEDRON - KAMPOS" (CY2000008). The habitat 9590* occupies an area of 290 ha, which constitutes less than 0.2% of the high forest vegetation in Cyprus. The habitat is distributed in an altitudinal range of 900 m to 1362 m, where the main patch occupies the peak area of Tripylos mountain, while scattered small stands also occur at the surrounding peaks (five additional peaks).
The pure cedar stands (habitat type 9590*) cover an area of 106 ha, the mixed forests with Pinus brutia (mixed habitat type 9590* + 9540) cover 183 ha and the mixed forests with Quercus alnifolia (habitat type 9590* + 9390*) cover 1 ha. In addition to these areas, within the Natura 2000 site CY2000008 (which is defined as a Natura 2000 site due to the habitat 9590* growing naturally within it) Cyprus cedar plantations have been established, covering an area of 119 ha.
The conservation status of the targeted habitat, based on specific criteria of Directive 92/43/EEC, is classified as "Favourable". However, several pressures and threats have been identified, seriously threatening the Cedrus brevifolia forests, as these are presented in the project's specific scopes (link).
The core tree species of habitat 9590* is Cedrus brevifolia which is one out of the four cedar species that nowadays occur in the world. It is an evergreen, resinous (coniferous) tree species, up to 30 m high. The crown in the young trees is narrowly conical, becoming open and flat-topped in aged trees. It is a long-lived tree species, with some individuals surpassing the age of 500 years. Cyprus cedar flowers from September to October, with its fruiting period being from August to September of the next year (18 months). The species is included in the "Red Data Book of the Flora of Cyprus", where it is classified as "Vulnerable", based on the IUCN criteria.
The presence of Cedrus brevifolia in Cyprus has been known to ancient authors. Theophrastus (371-287 B.C.), the father of botany, was the first to report the existence of C. brevifolia on the island in his book "Historia Plantarum". Also, the same author writes (like Pliny later on, 23-79 A.D.), that cedarwood from Cyprus was used for the war ship of Demetrios the Besieger. A recent molecular genetics study estimated the time of divergence between C. libani and C. brevifolia (molecular clock) at 6.56 (±1.20) million years ago.
The cedar is also linked with several legends in Cyprus, since it is also known as Holy Mary's pine. According to local tradition, when the picture of Virgin Mary was transferred to Kykkos Monastery, the pine trees knelt down as it was passing by. The Virgin Mary rewarded them by changing them into beautiful cedars.
Cedar wood is resistant to decay and infestation by insects and fungi, and, for this reason, small cedar wood pieces were placed inside wardrobes for protecting clothing against insects. Cedar wood was also used for numerous artefacts in ancient churches.