Key topics for reaching the EU 2020 Biodiversity Target in Cyprus
There is malpractice in the use of Appropriate Assessments in Cyprus. Appropriate Assessments are not of independent nature, as they are prepared by consultancies paid by the developers. Assessments are of low quality, failing to address the effects that the plans or project might have on the conservation objectives of the site and the fact that they are accepted by the Environment Department even if they do not provide the necessary information does not allow their improvement. As a result, Natura 2000 sites are threatened by plans and projects which are approved by the Environment Department on the basis of poor quality assessments. This is especially evident with large-scale developments for renewable energy sources being installed or proposed to be installed in Natura 2000 sites. The network is also threatened by established or proposed tourism infrastructure; especially golf courses accompanied by vast housing developments and isolated housing projects in the countryside.
Bird trapping is an illegal but widespread practice in Cyprus that threatens many bird species of conservation concern. The mist nets and limesticks target Blackcaps and other migrant songbirds but also many ‘non-target’ species are caught, significantly increasing the conservation impact of trapping. Trapping activity is concentrated in the autumn, but it also takes place in spring and winter. The competent authorities have been trying to tackle this problem for many years but further strengthening of law enforcement is needed, for which however there is not much political will. Raising public awareness is urgently needed as well.
A 3-year LIFE+ project for the restoration and protection of Oroklini Lake started in January 2012. Oroklini Lake, a shallow natural lake, is an SPA for the Black-winged Stilt and the Spur-winged Plover, and an SCI for its halophytic marsh vegetation. Cyprus holds more than 50% of EU’s breeding population of Spur-winged Plovers, and Oroklini Lake is one of the 5 best sites for the reproduction of this species. The beneficiaries are the Game Fund (project leader), BirdLife Cyprus (coordinating role), the Environment Department, the Forestry Department and the Oroklini Community Council. The project includes concrete conservation actions that will tackle the pressures threatening the wetland. Actions include fencing of the lake to prevent disturbance, removal of IAS, planting indigenous shrubs and trees, water management and restoration of the area where an unlicensed flea market operated. The relocation of the market outside the SPA has been the first tangible success, reducing significantly the disturbance to the site. The project, will implement many actions proposed in the management plan of Oroklini Lake.