Cyprus Mail

New hurdle for turtles on protected beach

A big new cement and stone barbecue pit has been constructed by the forestry department on the protected sea turtle beach of the Mavralis state forest, where the department bulldozed and burned around 700 metres of acacia trees a month ago.

The grill, constructed with a cement base and lined with stones picked up from the beach located in the Natura 2000 protected area of Polis-Yialia, is part of the plans to upgrade the excursion site of the Mavralis state forest, the head of the forestry department Charalambos Alexandrou told Phileleftheros paper on Thursday.

The grill, however, has been built on the coastal dunes in front of the acacia trees where the forestry department’s uprooting stopped short in March and which separate the sea turtle breeding beach from the excursion site of the Mavralis forest.

As was the case with the uprooting of acacia trees, which blocked light from the nearby road and buildings to stop baby turtles from becoming disoriented and wandering inland, the forestry department did not inform the public or the environmental department of its plans beforehand.

Responding to the public outcry following the uprooting of the acacia trees by using heavy construction vehicles and then burning them, the forestry department issued a statement claiming that the acacias had to be removed as they are foreign invasive species.

As an immediate measure to ensure that sea turtles are protected during the upcoming sea turtle breeding season, the forestry department said that an opaque fence would be installed to block out light sources, while tree planting with indigenous trees would will follow in the future.

To date, no opaque barrier has been put in place, just a strip of bamboo fencing, which has already been torn and thrown to the grown by unknown persons.

According to Alexandrou, the bamboo fencing was installed for aesthetic reasons, while an additional opaque fence will be placed at a later stage behind the bamboo.

Alexandrou said some are against the fencing and have decided to dismantle it and he would be in contact with the local community in an attempt to resolve objections. He added that from May 1 – the start of the turtle-breeding season –  firefighters will guard the beach, providing further protection during night time.

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