Cyprus Mail

Race against time to protect burnt forests from erosion and flooding

The forestry department is racing against time to carry out anti-erosion and flood protection projects in areas devastated by large fires earlier this summer.

Takis Tsintides, the head of the department, said the plan to restore Solea, in the Troodos mountain, was submitted on Thursday, while the one regarding Argaka, in Paphos, was expected next week.

Work has been under way since July 11 in a massive drive to minimise erosion and flooding.

Tsintides said some €150,000 worth of restoration projects were already underway in Solea. The projects had been awarded through open competitions but also through fast track procedures or verbal agreements.

Projects worth €80,000 have also been awarded in Argaka.

“We are using all methods to forestall” the problems that would be created by rain, Tsintides said. “We have mainly agreed with many smaller contractors but also bigger ones.”

The forestry official said some of the work will be completed by the end of this month, others by mid-September.

Tsintides said they had little time before the first rains.

“We are praying the first rains are a bit late, or moderate,” he said.

Techniques used against soil erosion and flooding include cages filled with rocks, called gabions, which are positioned in streams, dams made with logs, rocks or hay in streams, dry stone walls close to roads where streams end, bundles of tree trunks on slopes, and mulching.

The fire in Argaka started towards the end of June and by the time it was put under control, a bigger one started in the Solea region that raged on for several days.

It resulted in the death of two firefighters and destroyed around 15 square kilometres of pine forest. To bring it under control, Cyprus had to ask for assistance from neighbouring and EU countries. Israel, Greece, Italy, Britain, and France had dispatched firefighting aircraft as personnel fought the flames on the ground.



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