Divided between two prefectures, Achaia and Ileia, and spread along the Ionian waterfront, the forest of Strofylia and the Kotychi Lagoon meet to create one of the most beautiful protected wetlands in Greece. The legal framework protecting the area consists of the Ramsar Convention (1971), the Natura 2000 Network, and its designation as a National Reserve in 2009, while part of it is also a wildlife reserve. The hills known as the Black Mountains are the only elevation in this otherwise flat expanse of land, where the boundaries between different habitats and ecosystems are often unclear. Sand and clay are the main components of the soil, while the entire west front is covered in dunes extending several dozens of metres into the land, creating a peculiar landscape of stunning natural beauty, dotted with various shrubs and cute dwarf pines.
Kotychi is a typical Mediterranean lagoon, with only a thin strip of land separating it from the Ionian Sea. Water, in various forms and quantities, is what defines the area and creates the different ecosystems in the course of the seasons. The three lagoons (Kotychi, Prokopos, and Araxos), along with the Lamia marshes, the salt flat at Lechaina, and numerous streams and ponds formed by precipitation throughout the year, are the main bodies of water trapped in the mainland because of the dunes. Among them, dozens of species of fauna and flora find an excellent protected habitat, including birds during all phases of wintering, breeding, and migration, while the lagoons function as natural fish farms, locally known as 'divaria'.
Of course, the coastal pine forest remains the absolute highlight of the area, as the largest Umbrella Pine (Pinus pinea) forest in Greece and one of the largest in Europe, covering 22 square kilometres, at an average width of 1,250 metres from the coast. While dominated by the Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis), the most common type of conifer in mainland Greece, the forest is famous for the Umbrella Pines, while it also features a small population of Vallonea oaks – a natural tribute to the great oak forests which covered the area in Antiquity.