An unspecified number of trees are being felled along one of the main roads in Paphos, which have lined the avenue since 1998, the municipality announced on Friday.

It said its Green Service and the Forestry Department had inspected the poplar trees, genus Populus Alba, on Europe avenue which were planted in 1998.

“The evaluation found that the trees showed extensive drying and rot in more than 80 per cent of each tree, which was due to infection by pathogens that cause extensive necrosis and, therefore, it was necessary to cut them,” it announced.

Last year, a heated war of words broke out between Paphos municipality and environmentalists over the felling of a number of trees on the same street, and a protest against the action took place outside the town hall.

“This seems to be the policy of Paphos council, they have no sensitivity to the established green areas in the town. We have to protect the trees and not cut everything in case it ‘may one day be dangerous’,” Andreas Evlavis of the Paphos Greens told the Cyprus Mail on Friday.

However, the municipality categorically rejected what it termed unfounded accusations sometimes launched by some populists in an attempt to create impressions under the guise of “environmentalists”. It is normal in a town with over 60,000 trees that some of them will finish their life cycle and be replaced with new ones, it said.

“It is our duty to plant more trees, but it makes no sense, for example, to cut five big trees and say it doesn’t matter because we are replacing them with even a hundred smaller ones,” Evlavis countered. “We have to protect the old trees and appreciate their benefits.”

The municipality stressed that its Green Service and the Forestry Department had not gone ahead with cutting the trees during the winter months, instead waiting for spring when the new leaves appear in order to determine beyond any doubt the condition of the trees, before deciding to cut them down.

“The decision years ago to plant this type of poplar in this area was inappropriate, as these trees need high altitude, particularly moist soils and low temperatures to have healthy growth, which is confirmed by the Forestry Department,” the municipality noted.

The municipality said it regretted the development, but said it was necessary.

And it said that it has planted 160 new pine, cypress, olive, carob and mulberry trees along the green areas of Europe Avenue.

More than 4,000 new trees have been planted, as well as many thousands of shrubs and flowers, which the municipality said was indicative of its concern for the environment and the enrichment of greenery in the town.

A larger number of trees will be planted in the major urban parks that are being created, such as the Colour Park and the two linear parks around the city, it added.

“The effort of enrichment and maintenance of the green continues every day in all the open spaces of Paphos, while more than 20 parks and 40 green spaces have been upgraded. All members of the public can see the results with a simple walk around the city.”