How EU funds can be invested into future benefits
Under the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme, Cyprus has been funding a ‘farm modernisation’ scheme, which in practice has been supporting agricultural intensification (e.g. greenhouses) without there being adequate environmental safeguards in place. Furthermore, Cyprus has been distributing funds ‘per hectare’ (Pillar I Common Agricultural Policy payments) without any link to effective cross-compliance and thus being untargeted farming support for often damaging agricultural practices. Cyprus has yet to establish Natura 2000 payments for its farmers. Furthermore, Agri-environment schemes in Cyprus are still not specialised enough to support the environment or nature in Natura 2000.
How EU susbisides are wasted on environmentally harmful activities
Land management can be sustainable and involve local communities, providing local economic prosperity and socioeconomic benefits. A LIFE project, of EUR 1.5 million, developed and implemented conservation management measures in five NATURA 2000 sites (Kavo Gkreko, Koilada Diarizou, Vouni Panagias, Troodos National Forest Park, Alykes Larnakas) through the co-operation of local communities and stakeholders. The project coordinated local communities to take active part in the conservation management, developing the necessary capacity and quality jobs for a long-term management of the sites. The success of this project was based on the awareness and involvement of the local community.
Similarly, the Laona project (EU-funded during pre-accession in 1992) created a scheme to promote sustainable development amongst rural communities bordering the Akamas National Park, promoting agro-tourism in the Paphos area and included the establishment of an Environmental Studies Centre in a small community. After 30 years, the centre is still open and providing economic prosperity for the region.