The rare natural beauty of Elafonissos, an area in southwestern Crete which is popular with tourists, is under threat because of the haphazard way in which businesses are exploiting it, experts said yesterday. A team of local officials, environmentalists and academics presented the results of the first part of a study, warning that rare plants and trees are being endangered by farmers’ greenhouses, a nearby plaster quarry and thousands of visitors to Elafonissos beach. «Elafonissos is an area of exceptional beauty and biodiversity which private interests are treating as a source of immediate and easy profit,» the mayor of Inachori, Costas Koukourakis, told Kathimerini. He said canteens were set up on the beach during the summer and cars drove right up to the sea. The team will push for the creation of a body to protect the area.