A Greater Sand Plover, the main reason for the site’s status (Photo David Nye)
A protected site used as a resting and feeding ground for over 30 migratory bird species is being threatened by development in the Famagusta area, conservationists warned on Friday.
According to BirdLife Cyprus, between the villages of Xylofagou and Ayia Napa, on the rocky shore, lies a coastal strip of great significance as more than 30 bird species of conservation importance use it to rest and feed during migration, or to spend their winter.
This site – long threatened by development, is now being overrun by bulldozers and concrete, despite its status as a protected Natura 2000 site, the group said.
Works at the Ayia Thekla-Liopetri Natura site include levelling the beach using bulldozers and the construction of cafeterias and other establishments, stripping it of its natural habitat and causing major disturbance.
“The destruction of the habitat for the creation of an organised beach came on top of the site already being ‘claimed’ for the construction of a road and other developments in and around the small site and the proposal for the construction of a marina,” said BirdLife.
It added: “In times of economic crisis, it is of utmost importance that any plans or projects are not carried out at the expense of nature and biodiversity. It is one of the greatest misconceptions of our time that the protection of nature should be weighed against short-term economic gain.”
The group argued that all economic activities of a country are “ultimately dependent upon the services and benefits that nature provides and thus during periods of economic crisis its protection becomes even more important”.