Thirty three years ago this week a group of conservationists visited the Akamas Peninsula, one of the few areas of the island untouched by touristic development and called on the state to designate the area as protected.
Calling themselves The Friends of the Akamas, the group with seven more organisations, are continuing to call for more to be done.
Over the last three decades, the group said in a statement, the importance of the Akamas Peninsula for nature and local communities has been recognised through laws and decrees, while a whole series of conservation and management plans have been prepared for the area.
“Despite these,” it added, “a brief visit to Akamas is enough for one to realise that the area not only is it not properly managed, but there are many illegalities and no measures have been taken to rectify these. Illegal restaurants and refreshment stalls and other illegal constructions and arbitrary interventions, the majority of which have been there for years, continue to exist”.
The Sustainable Development Plan of the Akamas National Forest Park, approved by the Council of Ministers last year, requires the removal of all these illegalities before the Plan is implemented.
But The Friends of the Akamas said that the only actions undertaken so far are road works in an area where no building work and no alteration of the natural environment is permitted (the road between Aphrodite Baths and Fontana Amoroza).
The group said the plan is problematic, while its provision to improve the area’s road network is “very worrisome”, while a proper environmental impact study has yet to be carried out.
“Will the illegalities have been rectified,” 33 years from today, the group asked. “Will there ever be effective management, protection and monitoring of Akamas or will everything be just on paper still?”
The Friends of Akamas, the Federation of Environmental Organizations, the Cyprus Nature Conservation Foundation – Terra Cypria, BirdLife Cyprus, Friends of the Earth, the Cyprus Ecological Movement, the Cyprus Natural Coastline Initiative and the Environmental Research Center – Enalia Physis called on all relevant departments to move from words to action.
“Only then will Akamas be truly protected for the sake of its nature and its communities,” they said.