The Paphos Green Party is calling on the authorities to take a hard line on penalties for cutting down trees without permission.
“It appears that deforestation of green in our city has become a sport,” said Paphos Green Party Secretary Andreas Evlavis.
The statement comes in the wake of a slew of recent tree cutting incidents in Paphos including the felling of two trees that had provided shade along one of the busiest roads in Kato Paphos for decades.
Evlavis said that the trees, on Apostolos Pavlou, were cut down by a Cypriot man using a machine and that when a distraught resident to stop him, he refused.
“A woman contacted us and was very upset. She said that she had contacted the police and the mayor and that no one responded to her pleas,” he said.
The trees were cut without permission and the culprit took the wood away, he added.
“We are very upset and worried by such behaviour, what is happening to society when this man can cut trees along a busy road and receive no punishment?”
He added that the argument that it doesn’t matter so much if trees that are cut are not indigenous to Cyprus is nonsense and holds no weight.
“I don’t know the type of trees they were, but to say it’s not important if they are not Cyprus trees is totally stupid.”
He said the current fines that can be imposed on culprits cutting trees without permits do little to prevent the crimes, and suggested that Cyprus should impose a possible prison term, like many other countries.
Evlavis also said the forestry department and the municipality should work together to ensure the protection and survival of green areas in Paphos, but said there is work to do on this front, pointing to a recent incident when Mayor of Paphos Phedonas Phedonos cut down some trees without having been given the go ahead by the forestry department.
Phedonos was unavailable for comment as he is currently in Alexandria in Egypt, heading a three-member delegation from Paphos municipality aiming to strengthening ties between the two cities.
“The forestry department told me that they gave a licence for the mayor to cut some trees close to the statue of Makarios in Paphos but did not give permission for others found close by, down a side street to be cut as well. The mayor went ahead anyway,” he said.
Evlavis said that although the Greens support Phedonos in his quest to rid Paphos of corruption, this doesn’t mean that he can carry out such actions.
“This was a big mistake on his part and should never have happened,” Evlavis said.