Cyprus Mail

Save Akamas protest rally in Nicosia on Saturday


Conservationists will hold a protest rally in Nicosia on Saturday to push for the protection of the Akamas peninsula against the interests of big landowners and the “catastrophic development plans” promoted by the government.

The initiative for the protection of Cyprus’ natural coastline and the Save Akamas/Save Cyprus group, said they will take to the streets once again to demand, among other things, “the protection of our common natural and cultural heritage through the declaration of the entire Akamas Peninsula as a National Park, Biosphere Reserve or a protected area under a corresponding international protection regime.”

The groups said they will gather at 3pm on Saturday at Eleftheria Square and march to the interior ministry, the European Union House, parliament and the offices of the town and planning department.

“The Akamas Peninsula covers an area of ​​200 square kilometres and is equal to only 2 per cent of the total area of ​​Cyprus,” they said, but in it, around 50 per cent of the island’s biodiversity is recorded. “That is why the Akamas Peninsula is such an important and integral part of our common natural and cultural heritage. That is why its protection concerns us all.”

“The struggle for the preservation of the Akamas Peninsula has never been a conflict between environmental protection and social justice,” they said, while the debate over the future of the area is not a conflict between wildlife conservation and the well-being of local communities. Rather it is a struggle against the interests of big landowners and the speculative aspirations of land developers, uncontrolled growth and scattered construction, as well as inadequate environmental policies and destructive development plans promoted by the government.

The group said the government was trying to present the problem as a conflict between “overprotection” on the one hand and “land overgrowth” on the other, which they added, was just PR games.

“For years, the government’s plans have led with mathematical precision to the shrinking and fragmentation of the protected area, the degradation of its protection status, as well as the alteration and destruction of one of the last untouched nature protection, landscape and rural areas in Cyprus,” they added.

In the context of the preparation of the Akamas communities master plan, the town planning council proposes among other the registration of dirt rural roads as part of the public road network, between the protected area and the local communities and the construction of isolated houses and farms open to visitors throughout the countryside, they said.

The suggestions also include designating locations of specialised developments of large and complex uses in environmentally sensitive areas (the Androlikou-Droushia gorges, Inia Rocks and the Pano Arodes – Kathikas gorges), and the creation of a new quarry zone in an area of ​​special ecological value (Neo Chorio – Androlikou gorges).

The unjustified expansion of residential zones (Droushia Rocks and Pano Arodes- Kathikas gorges), the upgrading of tourist zones (Asprokremmos – Halavron beaches in Neo Chorio) and the creation of tourist zones (Inia Rocks), is also among the suggestions.

Both the studies carried out on behalf of the town planning department and the opinions by the environment department conclude that several of the proposed provisions and zoning areas of the Akamas communities master plan “will have serious, negative, long term and irreversible consequences on the environment of the Akamas Peninsula, with the most important being the degradation of nature, the loss of biodiversity and the alteration of the region’s landscape.”

The group also said that Akamas, Troodos, Pentadaktylos, Karpasia, Akrotiri and all the natural habitats of the island must be preserved, and it was important to stand in the way of those who seek their exploitation and destruction.

The event is supported by a number of other environmentalist and professional groups.

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