Cyprus Mail

Wildfire resilience project completed

r artemis with architect sevina floridou in the forefront, and biologist salih gucel in the background
Laona Director Artemis Yiordamli with architect Sevina Floridou in the forefront, and Biologist Salih Gucel in the background

The two-year PyrΑnankampsi/Alevlerden Gelecege Project, established as part of the Laona Foundation with Greek and Turkish Cypriot collaboration, has recently completed. The bicommunal effort has improved civic action in fire-affected communities across Cyprus and trained more than 650 participants in fire prevention and post-fire recovery techniques.

An event to mark the completion of the project was held at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia on Wednesday.

Addressing the event, Green MP Charalampos Theopemptou emphasised the importance of projects dealing with climate change and wildfires because of the unique weather conditions in our region which combine high temperatures and low rainfall.

Similar sentiments were heard from and the General Secretary of the Cypriot Farmers Association Panicos Champas, who stressed that due to the extreme nature of the terrain in Cyprus and the small size of the island, European directives regarding forest and soil protection should not be applied blindly. He also pointed to the importance of a common national plan for preventing and managing wildfires.

For her part as director of the Laona Foundation, Artemis Yiordamli proposed that the army be assigned to restore the abandoned dry-stone walls. “It requires human labour but it should be done,” she said.

The PyrΑnankampsi/Alevlerden Gelecege Project supported civil society in areas of rural Larnaca, Limassol, Paphos, and the Pentadaktylos range, all stricken in recent years by devastating fires. Total participants included around 470 Greek Cypriots and 180 Turkish Cypriots. The project benefited from a grant under the Active Citizens Fund Cyprus programme, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, through the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021, and was supplemented by the A.G Leventis Foundation.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Yiordamli said the project was embraced by volunteers and participants alike and emphasised the importance of bicommunal contact. Despite the separation that occurred 50 years ago, she said, Cypriots remained eager to engage with one another. “Everyone was very welcoming,” she said.

The programme trained rural participants in SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, as well as in construction methods for dry stone walls, a 2,000-year-old practice crucial to prevent erosion and create habitats for new growth.

Authorities had experimented with different and faster erosion prevention methods in the wake of the catastrophic 2021 Arakapas fire. These involved the placement of stones to facilitate rainwater flow. However, due to the lack of binding agents, these stones were subsequently swept away.

To counter this, to support the ground in the fire-stricken villages, dozens of volunteers of the PyrAnakampsi/Alevlerden Gelecege project joined experts and built dry stone walls in Stroggilos mountain in Arakapas and in Kornokipos in the north.

Several tree planting actions also took place, stressing the importance of using broadleaf trees such as oaks and other heat resistant trees and plants like cacti.

For more information about the project: and

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