The island of Lefkada with its forests and wetlands is the habitat of several animal species.
The domestic animals that you can come across, mainly up on the mountainous villages, where the locals are involved with husbandry, are mostly caprine, ovine and bovine animals. Furthermore, in some areas you can see teams of horses.
In forests and pastures you can see foxes, hares, weasels, martens as well as several species of birds, such as partridges, thrushes, sparrows, owls, blackbirds, woodcocks, ravens, swallows, wagtails, hooded crows, hoopoes, larks, magpies, several species of predatory birds, such as hawks, owls, tawny owls, eagle owls, etc. There are also bats.
In the wetlands and especially in the northern lagoons of the island, which are stopover sites for migratory birds, mainly during the autumn and winter months, many species of birds take refuge, such as swans, cormorants, coots, herons or egrets, European shags, glossy ibises, marsh harriers, shelducks, mallards, pelicans.
Furthermore, seagulls and terns are permanent flying residents of the coastal parts of the island all year long.
Lefkada is a green-clad island from its mountain tops to its seashores. Many diverse plant species create a wide spectrum of colours, mainly green with beautiful patches of other colours due to the fruits and the variety of wildflowers.
Starting with agricultural crops, olive trees and vineyards are dominating the island. The crops of cereals and the cultivation of lentils on the plateau of Agios Donatos are also characteristic, while “lathiria” (horse beans) are grown in small quantities at the prairie of Karya. Other arboreal plants that provide us with fruits and are in abundance on the island are almond trees, several citrus trees, fig trees, mulberry trees, walnut trees, medlars etc
At the plain of the town of Lefkada the great Venetian olive grove has been dominating for centuries. Since 1684 and for less than 100 years, more than 4400 olive trees had been planted there in an effort of the Venetians to increase the olive cultivation in the Ionian Islands.
Other trees that you can come across while on the island are Judas trees that colour the landscape red on spring days, oleanders and plane trees.
There are two major pine forests on the island. One is located west, at the site of Pefkoulia, between the villages of Tsoukalades and Agios Nikitas and covers a large area that reaches down to the sea. The other is located south, at the village of Agios Petros (pine forest of Pontzos). It covers a vast and is full of old paths and small torrents. It was created in the 50s.
On Mount Skari there is the only oak forest in the Ionian Islands, which is also mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. It is a place of immense beauty. According to tradition, it belonged to the Turk agha (officer) during the Ottoman Rule, who consequently donated it to the monastery of Agios Georgios. Later on, the oak forest became state property.
The mountainous part of Lefkada is famous for a flower of rare beauty that grows mainly on the sides of the mountain Stavrota and has different names in each village. It is the peony (also known as “koukos”, “skamnia” or “mantzourana”). The whole region in which this plant grows is protected as a part of NATURA 2000. This species blooms mainly during March and April.
Other beautiful and rare wildflowers of the island are orchids and feather grasses (“stipa” or “vlasani”).
The island also hosts a big variety of plants and herbs, such as laurel, asphodel (“sferdoukli”), chaste tree, marjoram, oregano, thyme, fennel, mint, camomile, basil, lemon balm, mallow, chicory, weaver’s broom, poppy, Jerusalem sage (“asfaka”), bellflower, fern, broomrape, maidenhair fern, cattail etc.
Finally, on the coastal parts of the islands you can find the endemic species Arenaria leucadia, while glassworts, sentry plants, weaver’s brooms, lilies, sea poppies, cactus pears etc complete the list of flora on the island.