Proposed planning zones in the revised Akamas plan are endangering the survival of species such as the green turtle and the long-legged buzzard, two environmental NGOs warned on Friday.
Members of the Cyprus Natural Coastline initiative and Save Akamas/Save Cyprus picketed the environment service in Nicosia to remind authorities that civil society was watching the latest developments regarding the Akamas plan with concern.
Environmentalists have for decades been waging an uphill struggle to protect the pristine peninsula, one of the last unspoiled areas in Cyprus and an important natural habitat, from tourism development.
The protesters carried posters depicting the invisible victims of development. In an announcement, the two NGOs gave specific examples of how proposed projects would affect each species.
The green (Chelonia mydas) and the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles, both protected species, are at risk from the delimitation of an area for special developments between the rocks of Droushia and Inia, the delimitation of a new tourist area near Inia rocks and the upgrading of existing tourist zones between Asprokremos and Halavron beaches in Neo Chorio.
They are also at risk from the uncontrolled development and dispersed buildings promoted through the policy of isolated homes and visitable farms in the countryside which are visible from the turtles’ nesting beaches.
The long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus) is in direct danger from the proposed creation of a new quarry zone southwest of Androlikos and Neo Chorio gorges a well as from the proposed creation of a new housing zone, with permitted commercial activities north of the two gorges.
Also of concern is the proposed delimitation of specialist developments between the gorges of Pano Arodes and Kathikas and what the two NGOs termed the unjustified expansion of development zones near environmentally sensitive areas such as the residential zone of Kathikas and holiday zone of Pano Arodes.
The two NGOs also sounded the alarm over the survival of the Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) as a result of the continuous expansion of the exiting quarry zone south of Androlikos gorge, the proposed creation of a new quarry zone southwest of the Androlikos and Neo Chorio gorges, the proposed creation of a new residential zone with permitted commercial activities north of gorges of Androlikos and Neo Chorio and the proposed delimitation of developments southeast of the dams of Androlikos and Drousia.
Akamas is an integral, most important chapter of our shared natural and cultural heritage and must be protected, the NGOs said. The whole area should be declared a national park, a biosphere reserve or a protected area with corresponding international protected status.
The necessary decrees protecting and managing the Natura 2000 network in the Akamas peninsula should be issued immediately. All unilateral interventions and harmful activities must end, illegal constructions demolished, and the environmental damage restored within and near the Akamas forest and protected Natura 2000 areas.
The NGO also want an end to uncontrolled, dispersed building in protected areas, the delimitation of food, recreation, and accommodation facilities within and close to development areas of local communities, to the benefit of the local economy.
The final Akamas development plan is set to be unviled in mid-June, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said.