Protected island: yes
Terrestrial protection status: Natura 2000 (center and western parts of the island)
Sifnos, an island in the Cyclades, is known for its picturesque villages and beautiful landscapes. Its economic activity, mainly focused on tourism, benefits from an exceptional natural, historical and landscape heritage.
Sifnos is a mountainous island, whose highest point, in the center of the island, is 682m above sea level. The island is made up of small tree-lined valleys – between mountain ridges – and a very jagged coastline, forming bays and small coves.
The soil, very rocky in nature in the mountainous parts, only allows the presence of small shrubs. It is the presence of old terraces, now abandoned, that allowed the vegetation to develop. Only a small number of plots are still cultivated, mainly on the heights.
The island has been inhabited since ancient times, as evidenced by many remains. Sifnos knew a prosperous period thanks to gold and silver mines. The monastery of the Prophet Elijah was built there in the Middle Ages. Subsequently, the island will be sometimes Italian, sometimes Ottoman.
It was finally attached to Greece in 1832, along with the other Cyclades islands. During this period, the island exploited the iron ore: it was extracted from the mines and then transported by rail and funicular to the port of Kamares and Faros where it was sent to be processed and used.
The main activity is tourism, the island being very famous for its gastronomy and its pottery. The importance of the primary sector in the economy is steadily diminishing, but fishing, animal husbandry and agriculture persist.
There are many protected species in Sifnos, and in particular in the Natura 2000 zone.
The underwater coast is home to several Posidonia (Posidonia oceanica) meadows, which are teeming with fish.
The flora of the island is characterized by shrub species such as pistachio trees or junipers from Phenicia (protected species) and drought-resistant species such as thyme, sage etc. Sea lilies are also found on the coast, a species that is also protected.
In terms of avifauna, more than 35 species have been recorded on the island.
A civil cooperative, “Energy and Development Cooperative of Sifnos Coop. Ltd.” was created in 2013 to promote an energy autonomy project for the island through a network of wind turbines and pumps to raise water in a hydroelectric dam.
Beyond this project, which is in the process of seeking funding (€ 37M), the cooperative is also investing in promoting civic actions such as reducing the use of plastic bags and promoting local products.