Cyprus Mail
CyprusEnvironment

‘Future of the Akamas is at risk’ (photos)

akamas1

Serious violations are taking place as the first phase of the Akamas development plan gets underway, nature and wildlife protection groups said on Monday, warning that the future of the area is at risk.

Terra Cypria and BirdLife Cyprus issued an SOS on Monday as they revealed on-site visits had shown many violations taking place.

Those include the “arbitrary widening [of roads], multiple and incompatible retaining walls and uncontrolled dumping of excavation waste”.

They strongly condemned what they said is the violation of legally binding conditions in the Akamas national forest park and demanded an immediate suspension of work until violations are investigated.

The previous government announced that works were to begin on September 1, marking a major development in the decades long row over how – or whether – Akamas should be developed.

“From recent visits to Akamas, the whole scenario does not point to improving the road network, but unfortunately creating a road network completely incompatible with the natural landscape of Akamas,” Terra Cypria wrote on social media.

They added that “intense concerns” have already been raised about the implementational of the development plan, which includes 14 infrastructure hubs.

The group further warned that despite promises from the authorities that illegal restaurants and refrigerators would be removed before any works begin “we note that these still exist and some are operating normally up to this day”.

An ominous reply from a member of the public reads: “I think don’t even bother with Akamas anymore, it’s over… the [development] plan was its tombstone”.

Proponents of development in Akamas say that the area is currently dangerous for visitors – pointing to frequent crashes by visitors on quadbikes – and that access to the area is uncontrolled.

Another argument in favour is that adding infrastructure in keeping with a national park to facilitate smoother access will also help boost the local economy.

However, groups such as Terra Cypria warn that development – if it is to take place – must done respectfully and not become a slippery slope.

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