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Renewed Akamas works ‘crucial for fire safety’

akamas machine photo iole damaskinos
Bulldozer at the road widening works in the Akamas (Iole Damaskinos)

The forestry department on Wednesday responded to a renewed alert issued by environmentalist groups concerning road works being carried out in Akamas.

According to the forestry department’s statement the works involve necessary maintenance of the road network and fire breaks ahead of the start of summer.

The works are “part of the preparation for the fire protection season but also the management and supervision of the forest”, the department said.

On Tuesday NGO’s Terra Cypria and BirdLife Cyprus issued a joint statement claiming the forestry department was carrying out works arbitrarily without informing the ad hoc committee responsible for the special environmental assessment (SEA), as had been previously agreed.

The roads on which the forestry department is carrying out widening works are included in the main road network, which was to be reassessed by June 2024, the NGOs said.

In its statement the department said the works are carried out on selected sections of the road network where the dirt road had been damaged by erosion.

“The projects in question are not works related to the wider planning for the sustainable development of the Akamas National Forest Park,” the forestry department claimed.

Speaking earlier to state broadcaster CyBC, Klitos Papastylianou, coordinator of the Initiative for the Protection of Natural Coasts, said there was evidence that the works had involved more than regular maintenance.

“There’s a difference between filling in a pothole and eight to 12 metre widening,” he said, adding, “The forestry department seems to be overlooking the fact that the committee ought to be informed and any works evaluated before being carried out.”

The forestry department in its statement refuted claims that the roads in question had been widened.

“The projects are absolutely necessary and aim at the safe and fast movement of fire engines and also at the movement of staff and visitors in the area,” it said.

Maintenance of the forest road network maximises the protection of the ecosystems, habitats, habitats and other important elements of Akamas flora and fauna, that are at risk of destruction by fires during the summer season, the department claimed.

Cyprus Mail contacted the forestry department to clarify the matter of lack of coordination with the SEA ad hoc committee and is awaiting a response.

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