Even if the best part of Heraklio is covered in olive groves and vineyards, even if its mountains have become bare and ragged, yet even here may be found some unusual ecosystems, forests of oak, of pine and a significant wetland.
Up to the end of the 1980s, north of the village of Zaros and right at the feet of the mountain there existed a small wetland centred on the spring of Votomos. A natural depression at the spring had allowed the wetland to develop. In 1987, with the assistance of the Ministry of Forests a small artificial lake was created around the spring – which has become one of the most chief areas for woodland recreation in Crete.
Rouvas Forest is a key ecosystem, based on an oak forest – it is of national importance. Covering the inland slopes of Psiloritis, it is defined by the peaks of Ambelakia and Samari to the south, Chalazokephala to the west, Skinaka and Koudouni to the north and Gyristi to the east. The forest covers some 30,000 stremmata (7400 acres)
One of the most extensive forests on Crete, is the Simi pine forest with the dominant species being the Calabrian pine (Pinus brutia) with large stands of oak, and cypress and other species like maple, holm oak and holly.
At Zaros-Vorizia region there is an extensive forest complex on the south flank of Psiloritis, running from the Aghios Ioannis gorge on the east to the Vorizia gorge on the west.