Vassiliko Cement Works donated four plots of land, amounting to an area of around 45,000 square metres, to environmental NGO Terra Cypria on Friday.

The land, which falls within a Natura 2000 protected zone, is located in the Ayia Ekaterini and Ayia Paraskevi gorges and is a breeding ground for birds, namely the peregrine falcon, the European roller, the Cyprus wheatear, and the masked shrike.

A statement released by Terra Cypria following the announcement of the donation said the land will remain a conservation area and no construction works will be allowed to be carried out on it.

“This is a very important step for Cyprus, one that perfectly exemplifies our ongoing conservation management efforts,” Terra Cypria executive director, Lefkios Sergides, told Cyprus Mail.

“Company donations of land that fall into designated protected areas are quite common in other EU countries, but it is a first for Cyprus.”

Sergides said that conservation management through land acquisition is still relatively uncharted territory on the island but added that the example set by Vassiliko Cement Works could represent an important first step.

“Companies that own private land falling into protected areas can donate them to NGOs in order to protect the flora and fauna and even be compensated for it,” he said.

“Cyprus is still not accustomed to such practices, but it is certainly a possibility worth investigating.”