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Cyprus joins European rally to save nature laws

Oroklini lake is deemed to be a success story

Almost half a million people called on the European Commission to save Europe’s nature laws, sending the strongest message for nature protection in the history of the EU, according to BirdLife Cyprus.

The public consultation by the European Commission will close on 26 July 2015 at midnight.

In May 2015, major environmental organisations launched the Nature Alert campaign in response to the EU Commission’s suggestion to evaluate whether the existing EU nature laws should be changed. The campaign makes the case for improved implementation and enforcement of existing rules set out by the Nature Directives and not changing their content.

Alongside the citizens, over 120 environmental NGOs have sent a clear message to European decision makers: EU nature laws should not be changed. The Nature Directives are recognized as some of the strongest laws in the world to protect biodiversity and habitats, which are threatened. These laws protect over 1,000 key species and over 27,000 natural sites in Europe and maintain the largest network of protected areas in the world, the Natura 2000 network.

The Natura 2000 network aims to protect and manage vulnerable species and habitats in Europe. Scientific evidence shows that the laws effectively protect key endangered species and threatened habitats and contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities and regions.

In Cyprus there are 62 areas in the Natura 2000 network. Oroklini Lake is an outstanding example of the positive results the legislative framework of the Nature Directives can have, environmentally as well as socially.

The LIFE Oroklini project for the restoration and management of Oroklini Lake was recently successfully completed. Oroklini Lake is very important for two species of birds that nest there, Blackwinged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) and Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus). Cyprus holds more than 50% of the EU’s breeding population of the Spur-winged Plover.

In total, 190 bird species have been recorded at Oroklini Lake (the number changes depending on the season). Cape Greco, Akamas Peninsula and the Troodos National Forest Park are well-known areas in Cyprus that belong to the network of protected areas Natura 2000 and which attract thousands of tourists who wish to enjoy our unique natural heritage.

The full results of the consultation are likely to be published in autumn 2015 and a final decision on the future of the laws is expected by June 2016.

The process of reviewing the Nature Directives began in January 2015 and will take more than a year to complete

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