The new Akrotiri Environmental Centre opened on Tuesday embracing some of the most innovative and environmentally friendly building concepts, including a photovoltaic system on the roof which provides approximately 50 per cent of its energy requirements, the British bases said.
The Akrotiri Salt Lake and Marsh, which hosts the largest number of water birds in Cyprus, was designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 2003 and is one of only two Ramsar sites on the island.
Meanwhile, the Akrotiri peninsula itself hosts more than 30 different orchid species, representing around 60 per cent of the orchid interest on island and the flora of the area includes more than 800 plant species, 10 of which are included in the Red Data Book (endangered flora) and are only found in Cyprus on the Akrotiri Peninsula.
Approximately 300 bird species have been recorded on the peninsula and the SBAs are home to the last breeding colony in Cyprus of the impressive Griffon Vulture.
The centre, overlooking the salt lake, was officially opened by Education Minister Costas Kadis, and Sovereign Base Area Administrator Major General Richard Cripwell, who described it as “one of the most important projects in the SBAs”.
“This is confirmation that we now have the best facilities to enable further constructive collaboration of the many separate organisations involved in presenting the outstanding environmental importance of the Akrotiri Peninsula and other important features of the SBAs and beyond,” said Cripwell.
The centre is a shared facility, whereby teachers and children from the Republic will join others from the SBAs and those in the Akrotiri community to participate in environmental education programmes and research.
It will host daily visits from the Cyprus community and schools from across the island, whose children will be able to take advantage of the fully-interactive educational experience set against a backdrop of some of the most spectacular wetlands areas on island.
Since 2007, the old environmental centre, which was recognised as part of the Cyprus Network of Environmental Education Centres, has hosted more than 50,000 school children and more than 20,000 other visitors and with its new facilities and location, that number is expected to increase dramatically.
Speaking prior to cutting the official ribbon, Kadis paid tribute to the hard work that has been completed by both Cyprus and the SBAs to make it happen.
“The operation of this centre is the result of a long-term and systematic effort and close co-operation of the Ministry of Education and Culture with the British Bases and the Akrotiri Community,” he said.
“The operation of the centre at its new premises marks a new era for the Akrotiri Community and the Network of Environmental Education Programmes. The bioclimatic design of the centre, the modern technological installations, and its excellent scientific equipment render this centre a benchmark not only in Cyprus but in the Middle East in general.”
For more information call the Environmental Centre on 25 826562