The Ochi mountain region
The region of Ochi is located in the northernmost tip of Evia between the Evoikos gulf in southwest and Cavo d'Oro in east. The Cavo d'Oro, a narrow strait between Evia and Andros islands, is known for it's deep waters and very strong currents. The peaks of Ochi loom over the sea and offer a panoramic view of Cyklades islands, Attica and N. Evia. The highest peaks are Prophetis Ilias (1400 m.) and Giouda (1386 m.). From these peaks, ridges run towards North-East and East that end up to the cape of Kafireas, the Aegean sea and the strait of Cavo D'Oro.
Morphology and microclimate
The presence of rocky elevations and formations, mainly on the mountain ridges, is a prominent characteristic. The North and Northeast parts of the mountain end up to the sea through steep slopes and are characterized by gorges, whereas the South and West part has smoother terrain. There is also a characteristic difference in the micro-climate and the vegetation between the North East and South West parts. The North East part is more humid and woody since it receives more rainfalls, whereas the North West side is more dry and bears resemblance with Cyclades landscapes.
The protected region of Ochi (GR 2420001, ΕΕ L259 της 21.9.2006) belongs to the proposed Sites of Community Importance under the European-Union Natura 2000 network (Community Directive 92/43) and includes an area of 15,000 ha. The region has also been integrated in the Special Protection Zones of wild birds (Directive 79/409, GR 2420012) and includes an area of 33,000 ha. Segments of the region have been ranked as Regions of Particular Beauty, a survey done by the National Technical University of Athens, since 1997.
The region is characterized for it's variety of natural terrain, vegetation and habitats. The combination of island and mountainous elements create a diversity of landscapes in Ochi, which stand out for the interesting geological formations, gullies and gorges.
The vegetation of the region includes mediterranean species of low and high vegetation, as well as large numbers of common greek plants and endemic species of Evia and Karystia area. Specifically, 7 endemic plants have been recorded that grow only in the region of Ochi.
The bird fauna of the region includes protected species of permanent populations, as well as migratory species for which the region is an important stopover in South Aegean Sea. The reptile fauna of the region also is remarkable, although it has not been studied extensively.
The largest part of the Ochi area, is covered by crystal shale with alternations of cipollino marble. The shale, which is not permeable by water, holds the water on the surface of the land and is also eroded easily. In contrast, marble and limestone store the water and create subterranean aquifers. The mountain springs, which are many, spring along the contact surface between these two different rock layers.
The Ochi area is popular for the 'Karystos stone' which is a cipollino marble that has shale layers. The cipollino marble doesn't usually have white color, but grey, brownish or green, depending on the shale minerals it contains (e.g., chlorite, serkite, etc.). The main quarrying region is located on the western foothills of Ochi, mainly in Aghios Dimitrios valley.