Akamas is a national project and not private property and the need for restoration of damages is urgent, Klitos Papastylianou, ex-scientific advisor for the Akamas special environmental assessment said on Thursday.
Speaking to Cyprus Mail the coordinator of the initiative for the protection of natural coasts and the wildlife society, emphasised in no uncertain terms the urgency of restoration actions which need to be undertaken.
“It is imperative to shut down the currently unauthorised worksites. All construction waste as well as stored materials must be removed as soon as possible,” Papastylianou said.
In addition, it is crucial that earthworks be filled in and landscaping be carried out within the next couple of weeks before the rainy season.
If these actions are not undertaken promptly, soil erosion and irreversible degradation of habitat and land features will be the result, the ecologist said.
At Wednesday’s heated debate on the Akamas at the House environment committee, contractor Cyfield announced that it would be stopping all works on the road network in the Akamas peninsula until all issues are settled. There have been spiralling complaints in recent weeks over roads being widened more than was stated in the Akamas National Forest Plan, unnecessary retaining walls and a host of other violations.
Papastylianou noted that an immediate independent assessment of damages must be taken on by the ad hoc scientific environmental committee which is the legally authorised expert body on the matter.
Speaking earlier on CyBC’s morning programme the activist said “huge” ecological and financial damages are the fallout from the already-confirmed deviations from the plan concerning the Akamas national forest park roadworks.
“The Akamas forest park is a national project, not private property, and everyone has the right to demand its protection,” Papastylianou said.
On Thursday the mayors of neighbouring communities Polis and Peyia had expressed public dissatisfaction with any further delays of works in the park, claiming that the communities had been held hostage and “suffocated” financially for years by the saga.
“We [the communities] have already put a lot of wine in our water and we had wanted something far more beneficial for the residents to be done. We don’t want the Akamas situation to drag on for another 15 years,” Polis mayor Yiotis Papachristophis told the Cyprus Mail.
Environmentalists, however, have argued that if the Akamas plan is correctly carried out, and visitor nodes and refreshment hubs are kept largely outside park boundaries within surrounding villages, residents will be the first ones who stand to benefit from it.