THE cabinet on Thursday approved the goals and basic provisions of a sustainable development plan for the Akamas National Park, which lies inside a wider protected area.
“There is a timeframe, and it starts today and will be completed by the end of 2022, when we expect to deliver a modern and functional park,” agriculture minister Costas Kadis said.
According to the minister, the plan for the Akamas park has three pillars: preserve biodiversity; create conditions of sustainable growth for the broader area and the local communities; and improve the experience of people visiting the park.
The park has an estimated 800,000 visitors per year.
Access to the park will be controlled via eight entrances. The entrance fee is to be determined at a future date, with the proceeds financing the management of the park.
The number and location of the entrances had been a bone of contention among the various local communities vying for the fees.
In addition, eight roads – totalling 85km – leading to the park are to be built according to environmentally-friendly standards.
The park will also feature 14 facilities, such as parking spaces and stands offering refreshments and snacks.
Also, an advisory committee is to be set up for managing the park.
Kadis said the necessary funds have already been budgeted for.
But he clarified that this development plan was only a preliminary one; the final provisions, along with the master plan for the Akamas peninsula in general, is a work in progress.
The national park covers about 25 per cent of the Natura 2000 protected area in the peninsula.
Development in the area, in the northwest of the island, has long been a subject of dispute between local inhabitants and pro-environment NGOs.
The latter advocate for the entire area to be subject to controlled development, and want this in writing.
Owners of private plots have previously won court cases claiming their right to develop.
Kadis said the plan for the national park was devised jointly by academics and foreign experts, some of whom are high-ranking officials with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The IUCN bills itself as “the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.”
The organisation, which is a part government, part civil society venture, issues so-called ‘red lists’ of threatened species.
Its total assets at the end of 2017 stood at €120m.