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20 July, 2024
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Cyprus' wetlands under threat

Examining the challenges, conservation efforts, and management oversight of ecologically critical wetlands


Kathimerini reporter Pavlos Neophytou delves into the critical challenges facing Cyprus' precious wetlands, where red alerts have recently been issued for the Achna dam and Larnaca salt ponds. With growing concerns about potential pollution and unplanned construction, Neophytou uncovers the intricacies of these ecological hotspots, highlighting the urgent need for coordinated efforts to safeguard these vital habitats. 

Cyprus wetlands under threat

In recent days, Cyprus has raised a red alert for two wetlands, raising concerns over potential pollution in the Achna dam due to liquid animal waste discharge. Simultaneously, construction work on Pattichio Park near a Larnaca salt pond has been halted, prompting a wait for guidelines from the Game and Wildlife Service to proceed without harming the local fauna.

Klitos Papastylianou, an environmental policy officer, highlighted the global and local threats faced by wetlands, attributing the challenges to climate change. He expressed concerns over the fragmentation and inadequate protection of wetland habitats in Cyprus.

George Perdikis, president of the Ecologists' Movement, emphasized the lack of effective protection for wetlands, advocating for the implementation of management plans. He cited the need for legally binding measures and criticized the failure to enforce existing plans.

The ongoing infringement procedure against Cyprus, initiated by the European Commission, underscores the need for Protection and Management Orders for Natura 2000 sites. Papastylianou pointed out the coordination problem among ministries and services as a barrier to wetland protection, emphasizing the importance of a strong State Department of Environment.

The Achna Dam, a designated Special Protection Zone for wild birds, faces potential pollution issues. The Akrotiri wetlands confront uncontrolled development and poor rainwater management, impacting their ecological characteristics. Perdikis and Papastylianou agreed on the urgency of resolving these issues.

Reflecting on past threats, Perdikis recounted the historical challenges faced by the Achna dam, including proposed highway routes and plans for a crocodile breeding farm, all successfully averted due to public mobilization.

The current red alert underscores the pressing need for coordinated efforts to protect Cyprus' wetlands from pollution and unregulated development, ensuring their ecological sustainability.

[This article was translated and summarized from its Greek original published in Kathimerini's Sunday printed edition]


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