Conservationists on Thursday called for a comprehensive policy for the safe movement of visitors within the Akamas national forest, accusing authorities of stalling while lives are lost.
The Friends of the Akamas group weighed in on the matter after a 59-year-old tourist died on Sunday after the buggy he was in went off a cliff and into the sea in the Akamas national forest. His daughter, 20, was seriously injured.
“The recent fatal accident in Akamas underscores in the most tragic way the serious long-term responsibilities of the government in relation to the management of the safety issues of the visitors on the forest roads – paths of the state forest and especially the passage from Aphrodite’s Baths to Fontana Amorosa,” the group said in a statement.
According to the group, the daily uncontrolled entry and mass traffic of thousands of private vehicles, such as quadbikes, in a state forest of unique ecological importance, creates problems and dangers, both for man and for the environment.
It added that the ongoing foot-dragging regarding introducing safe, and compatible with the unique environment of Akamas, access, only to special vehicles of competent departments, as well as in environmentally friendly ways and means, leaves the safety of each person who does not have the necessary information on the dangerousness of the path, as well as the protection of the forest itself “at the mercy of fortune!”
The group suggests that the entry of the thousands of visitors to the state forest is allowed only on foot, bicycles and on national park electric buses. It also calls for raising awareness among the public on the policy, how to enter and move within the national park and its protection but also round the clock monitoring of activity within the park.
The group also accused the government of breaking its announced, also to the EU, commitment, to declaring the entire Akamas peninsula as a national park, by baptising instead the state land in the area as ‘national forest park’ through political manoeuvres and “strange opaque procedures.” It also said the government is trying to organise the Akamas forest park as if it were an urban park, like the one in Athalassa in Nicosia, “thus disregarding international principles and standards of nature protection.”
They end their announcement with the warning they will be keeping an eye on things.
The fatal accident has sparked debate again over the dangerous road in Akamas with local authorities and the Green Party slamming the competent government departments for allowing public use of the road, though disagreeing on what the next steps should be. The Greens want the road closed, while Neo Chorio community council wants improvements to make it safe.
In October 2018, two Russian tourists, a man, 58 and his wife, 48, were killed after their rental car went off a cliff in the Akamas area and plunged 30 metres onto the rocky coast.