The environment is not being taken seriously by individuals or by the competent authorities when it comes to building developments.

Of course, there has been considerable progress in the last ten years or so, and to this end both the increased sensitivity of citizens and the acquisition of know-how (for example transplanting trees, use of old trees, new watering systems and so on) have helped.

However, there is still a long way to go to improve the environment and for this reason it when applying for a building permit, a detailed programme of planting and maintenance of private and public green space should be required.

There are various things that should be included regarding the planting of trees and the relevant terms.

Apart from the list of trees, which should be Cypriot, such as pines, cypresses, olive, carob and so on, the location and the age of the trees should also be submitted by the applicant.

The watering and maintenance system and the source of water, for example a borehole, should be provided.

The planting of trees should be consistent with the immediate environment – not palm trees everywhere – and the age of the trees should be at least three years old with a minimum height of 2 metres of trunk.

The applicant should be responsible for maintenance for a period of four years from the delivery of the project with a bank guarantee of €50/tree minimum at the disposal of the competent authority in case of insufficient maintenance.

Where trees cannot be planted, compensation should be paid to the authority and go towards a tree planting fund. The fund should be utilised and not be another fund lost to authorities’ coffers, as is now the case with the fund for parking spaces.

As a kind of guiding formula, I suggest at least one tree is planted per 100sqm of building or two per 100sqm of land – whichever is the largest. An ordinary apartment building should have around 15 trees. If there is no space for planting, compensation of €50/tree should be paid to the fund.

If authorities are unable to maintain public and other green spaces, there should be a programme for it to be undertaken by private initiative. The costs of managing these spaces could be deducted from municipal taxes.

Citizens should be able to undertake a criminal case against competent authorities for not maintaining or not creating a green space, which the authority itself has set as a condition for a development. The determination of compensation should be simple to avoid time-consuming procedures, such as €100-€300/sqm of garden a year with the amount to be paid to the state.

The intention is to wake up authorities, because as things stand today most public green spaces have become rubbish dumps and attract antisocial behaviour.

The aim is for large, mainly local, trees to be planted, as opposed to tiny seedlings, 80 per cent of which do not survive, and for authorities and individuals to do their part towards creating a better environment alongside development.

Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers,, [email protected]