The British Bases said on Tuesday they had begun removing some acacia from the live firing range at Cape Pyla for range safety reasons and to hinder bird trappers.
It said, the acacia, which has grown up over several years, prevents Bases personnel from using the range safely as it restricts the field of view when firing live weapons.
Some of the acacia has been planted illegally by bird trappers who have laid irrigation pipes on the surface of the ground, these pipes also present a dangerous trip hazard to solders training with live weapons, the bases said in a statement.
Spokesman Sean Tully said: ‘It has been a long time since we removed acacia from the range, in some areas the acacia has grown so much that we are simply unable to train safely. We need to manage the situation before somebody gets hurt.
‘We are only able to remove a modest amount of the acacia now, but it will happen over the next few days, where we find illegal irrigation, it will be disconnected.’
As the Pyla range is the only area where realistic live firing training can take place, the bases said it was vital that the small area can be used properly. Failure to do so reduces the ability to train soldiers effectively, it addedd.
A further benefit of the acacia’s removal would be would reduce the scope for illegal bird trappers to use the trees to catch birds in their nets.
Tully said: ‘Bird trapping is illegal, both the Cypriot and Bases’ authorities are working hard to eradicate this activity with, for example, SBA Police making 34 arrests this year. The acacia removal will help reduce this illegal activity as well as providing a safe environment to train our personnel.” He said.