The EU has lost a friend and Cyprus one of its finest conservationists, the representation of the EU Commission in Cyprus said on Tuesday, as it expressed its condolences over the death of Martin Abbas Hellicar.

News of Martin’s death over the weekend has sparked an outpour of farewells and condolences across the island, after he passed at the age of 56 following complications from a car accident.

Renowned conservationist, journalist and ecologist, Martin was the director of Birdlife Cyprus which he joined in 2003.

“Under Martin’s leadership, BirdLife Cyprus have been running a number of groundbreaking EU-funded projects and LIFE programmes aimed at protecting biodiversity, wildlife, protected sites or endangered species of the island,” the representation of the European Commission said in a Facebook post.

Across the country, news of his death was met with shock and devastation by those who knew him and his work, who remarked on the impact he left on Cyprus’ environmental protection movement. More so, countless tributes reflected on his compassion, humour and kindness.

Martin embodied the values of respect and love of nature,” the European Commission said.

“An undying commitment to its preservation and restoration, as well as the value of collaboration for the common good. The EU has lost a friend and Cyprus one of its finest and most trailblazing conservationists.

“Martin’s legacy is immense and will continue to inspire. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this time.”