World Wetlands Day marked around the world on February 2 is no reason to celebrate in Cyprus, the Animal Party said on Saturday because these places in Cyprus have become the site of illegal human activity.
EU warnings and rulings have been ignored, the party said pointing to the case of the Paralimni Lake, which was the subject of a 2011 European Court of Justice ruling that Cyprus was poorly protecting and managing the site.
“All this brings honour on no-one,” the party said.
It also referred to the recent poisoning of flamingos in the Larnaca Salt Lake due to pollution from a disused nearby shooting range, the drainage of the Oroklini lake, and rubbish in the Athalassa pond.
“We call on the government to take this matter seriously,” the party said. Immediate action is needed to draw up and implement long term strategies that will protect natural lakes and the wildlife found within them, it added.
“Without them there is a real danger that we will not again see flamingos or the water snake in addition to other animals that live in or migrate through our country”.
Their words echoed the agriculture ministry’s message, which said Cyprus wetlands are deteriorating because of human-made pollution.
According to the ministry, wetlands naturally monitor the effects of climate change, absorb carbon dioxide and reduce the possibilities of flooding.
“There are important wetlands in our country, which are protected although they have become degraded, mainly due to human factors,” the ministry said.
Protecting wetlands is even more urgent with climate change and the rise of global temperatures, it added.
Authorities protect these areas by monitoring the quality of the water and the habitat in general, reducing pollution and tackling illegal activities, the ministry said.
Larnaca municipality will inform the public about pollution at the salt lake during an event on Sunday to mark World Wetlands Day which includes bird watching and clean-up of the area.
Non-government organisation BirdLife will mark the day with two events at Paralimni Lake and Oroklini Lake next Saturday from 9.30am.