About Cyprus

Natural Resources and the Environment

The forests of Cyprus cover 18,96% of the total area of the island. Most of the forest area 161.833 ha, is State Land and is divided into Main and Minor State Forests. The Main State Forests - 146.100 ha - are situated mostly on the mountain ranges and are classified into Permanent Forest Reserves, National Forest Parks and Nature Reserves. The Minor State Forests (15.733 ha) are multiple-use forest areas, communal and municipal forests, nurseries and grazing grounds. Private forests cover an area of about 13.578 ha and belong to private individuals, churches and monasteries.

Cyprus was famous for its forests in ancient times and timber from them was used for the building of the fleets of sea powers of the eastern Mediterranean at the time. Forest fires, uncontrolled grazing and felling throughout the years have reduced the forest areas, while the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the malicious bombing of the forests by the Turkish air force have resulted in the burning of about 16% of the total forest area. After this large-scale destruction of the forests, the Department of Forests undertook the project of reforesting the burnt areas.

Cyprus forests are natural with the exception of some areas, which were established through reforestation in the burnt areas and on degraded government land. The main species are Brutia pine (Pinus brutia), while the Black pine (Pinus nigra) covers the higher slopes of the Troodos Range. Other species are Cypress, Juniper, Plane, Alder and Golden oak (Quercus alnifolia), which is endemic, etc. Cedars (Cedrus brevifolia), also an endemic species, are found in the Paphos Forest.

The Department of Forests, under the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, with the assistance of FAO experts in 1998 initiated the preparation of a “National Forest Programme%26rdquo; for Cyprus Forests. The main objectives of the Programme are: the forest development, the forest management on a sustainable basis, the rationalist and prudent multiple use of forests and the harmonisation of Forest Policy with that of the European Union.

Recent statistics show that during the period 1991-2000 an area of 3,213 ha of Main State Forest has been reforested, and efforts are being made to increase the overall forest area.

The Department of Forests is responsible for the creation, improvement and extension of picnic and camping places in the state forest. During the recent years many nature trails were established at Akamas Forest, Paphos Forest, Troodos, Limassol, Adelphi and at Cavo Greco. The nature trails attracted many walkers both from Cyprus and abroad.

Besides the extension and the betterment of the facilities in the picnic sites, Troodos forest has been declared a National Forest Park. Cavo Greco, Athalassa and the Pedagogical Academy were also declared National Forest Parks for which development plans were prepared and implemented and are in full use by the public.

Considerable progress has been achieved in the protection of forests from fires, which constitute the biggest single hazard in the preservation of Cyprus%26rsquo; forests. The fire fighting capacity of the Forestry Department has been strengthened through the acquisition of more fire engines and better radiotelephone systems and the construction of more roads. During the period 1989-1998 the average area of forests burnt was reduced to 0,08% of the total area of the State Forests, compared to an average of 0,13% in the period 1979-1988. It is worth mentioning that 1999 was the best year with the smallest area (about 4 ha) burnt since 1886 when records began.

The Cyprus Forestry College has been in operation since 1951 and has been functioning at full capacity. In recent years, more than 40% of its students come from overseas countries.

Water Development
Throughout its long history Cyprus has always been confronted with the problem of water shortage and for this reason the Government gives utmost priority towards the optimum utilisation of all the island%26rsquo;s water resources.

Until 1970, underground water was the main source of water for both drinking and irrigation purposes. As a result almost all aquifers were seriously depleted from over-pumping with coastal aquifers suffering from sea intrusion.

An increase in the population, as well as in tourist and industrial activities, have led to an increase in the demand for water and have created an acute shortage of potable water.

To combat this problem the Cyprus government created dams and more recently desalination plants. For more information see the website of the Water Development Department

The mining industry has been on the decline (practically non-existent) for the last two decades. However, with the commencement of operations of the mine at Skouriotissa by the Hellenic Copper Mines in June 1996, there was a great interest (by the Hellenic Copper Mines and other companies) for prospecting for copper and other minerals even in areas where prospecting has taken place in the past.

In 2000, 5088 tons of pure cathode copper at a value of Cú 5,58 million was exported, compared to 5260 tons at a value of Cú4.42 million in 1999.

There is extensive quarrying in Cyprus - there are about 250 quarries for various materials, for local use (sand and gravel aggregates, limestone, gypsum, havara, clay, building stone, etc) and for export (bentonite, umber and ochre, gypsum, building stone, etc). There are four companies, which produce bentonite. Nearly all the production is exported. Only one company is operating an activation plant, producing qualities of bentonite for different uses (such as drilling, civil engineering, pet litter, filler, etc). There is also great interest for prospecting for quarry materials.

The development of the island in the last three decades and mainly the rapid economic development of the country since 1974, has led to pressures on the environment, particularly in the coastal zone. Environmental awareness, though overshadowed by more pressing needs at various periods, is now leading to a stronger policy for the protection of the environment.

There are a number of laws aiming at the protection of the environment, the main ones being the Town and Country Planning Law, the Fisheries Law, the Forests Law, the Foreshore Protection Law and the Streets and Buildings Law as well as the various laws for the regulation of hunting. As far as control and prevention of pollution is concerned a major breakthrough was achieved with the approval, in 1991, of the Laws on the Control of Water and Atmospheric Pollution from Industrial Sources as well as the Dangerous Substances Law.

Several international conventions for the protection of the environment have also been ratified such as the Convention for the Conservation of the European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (C.I.T.E.S.), the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution and its four Protocols, the Global Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the Climate Change Convention and the Convention on EIA in a Transboundary context and the Convention to Combat Desertification.

Several major studies and projects were also undertaken, aiming at harmonization with the European Union%26rsquo;s environmental policy, many of them financed by the EU. Such studies have covered the management of hazardous waste, the use of environmental fiscal instruments, the management of the Akamas Peninsula, rural sanitation, recycling of domestic solid waste, coastal protection, used machine oils, water resources supply and demand management, monitors up of mining waste, integrated monitoring of surface waters, the establishment of a sub regional contingency plan for marine pollution incidents, etc.

Cyprus actively participates in regional and global environmental activities such as the Mediterranean Action Plan, the Council of Europe%26rsquo;s environmental programmes, the environmental follow-up actions in the framework of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership established by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference.

The Chapter on Environment, which is currently being discussed in the context of Cyprus' accession negotiations with the European Union, is expected to close by the end of July 2001. Cyprus also places special importance to the implementation of the National Programme for the Adaptation of the Environmental Acquis, which is now fully in place, and considerable effort is devoted in implementing it within the timetable adopted.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment is responsible for the rational management and sustainable use of natural resources as well as being the coordinating Ministry for the protection of the island%26rsquo;s environment. The institutional framework for environmental planning and management in Cyprus has at its apex the Council of Ministers, which has the overall responsibility for the formulation of environmental policy. It also includes the Environment Council, which is an advisory body, chaired by the Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment; and the Environment Committee, which deals with the formulation and determination of environmental policy objectives and is chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment.

The Environment Service operates under the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, is the coordinating agency for Government programmes for the protection of the environment, heads thetechnical committee on the environmental impact assessment of projects, advises on environmental policy, is mandated to ensure the implementation of the environmental policy and provides secretariat services to the environment Council and the Environment Committee, also being the administrative arm of the latter.

Particular activities in the field of environmental conservation within the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment also include protection of the Cyprus Moufflon (Ovis-gmelini ophion). This rare endemic animal is strictly protected and its population has revived from near extinction, at the beginning of the century, to about 2.000 animals at present.

Furthermore, a successful conservation project was launched in order to protect the Green and Loggerhead turtles breeding on the island%26rsquo;s beaches. It includes a hatchery programme and it is a model project in the Mediterranean. The Ministry%26rsquo;s activities also include the control, prevention and combating of marine pollution as well as research and monitoring, much of which falls within the framework of UNEP%26rsquo;s Mediterranean Action Plan.

The setting up of National Parks and Nature Reserves is now receiving urgent attention. Areas under study include the Akamas Peninsula, the Akrotiri Lake and Phasouri marsh and the Platys Valley. Two Forest Nature Reserves have already been established at Tripilos, which includes the Cedar Valley and at Troodos respectively, and one Marine Reserve, the Lara-Toxeftra Reserve for the protection of marine turtles and their nesting beaches. Six national forest parks have also been established in the last few years. The areas of the Larnaca salt lake have been declared as protected areas by a decision of the Council of Ministers.

It is also worth mentioning the work initiated for the preparation of the Ecological Map of Cyprus. The basic objective of this effort is to survey, study and map all the basic characteristics and parameters of the natural, biological and cultural resources, to identify the pressures threatening them and to put forward suggestions and programmes for the protection and enhancement of the ecological and cultural endowment of the island.

Flora and Fauna
Cyprus is an island with superb natural beauty and a remarkable variety of landscapes and scenery. Its rugged coastline alternates between rocky shores, promontories and sandy bays while extensive plains, rolling hills and forest-clad mountains, scattered with picturesque villages, cover the inland area.

The north coastal plain, covered with olive and carob trees, is backed by the steep and narrow Pentadaktylos mountain range of limestone, rising at a height of 3.300 feet above sea level. In the south the extensive mountain massif of Troodos, covered with pine, dwarf oak, cypress and cedar, culminates in the peak of Mount Olympus, 6.400 feet above sea level. Between the two ranges is the fertile plain of Mesaoria.

Cyprus, being an island, has been adequately isolated to allow the evolution of a strong endemic flowering element. Being also surrounded by large continents, it incorporates botanological elements of the neighbouring landmasses.

The flora or the complement of indigenous plants and in particular the endemics of the country, constitute an outstanding biological and aesthetic natural heritage. With its approximately 1.900 species and subspecies or flowering plants, of which 140 are endemic, Cyprus is an extremely interesting place for nature lovers and has all the attributes, which make it a real botanist%26rsquo;s paradise.

From its very beginning, about 20 million years ago, Cyprus has always been an island. The arrival of animals in Cyprus has been a subject of interest to zoologists. According to evidence, the first arrivals were hippopotami and elephants, both excellent swimmers. They arrived about 1,5 million years ago and apart from some shrews and mice, they were the only land mammals roaming the island prior to Man%26rsquo;s arrival, 9.000 years ago.

Cyprus is used by millions of birds as a stepping-stone during their migration from Europe to Africa and back again, something that has been observed since Homeric times. Out of the sea creatures, dolphins, turtles and seals are strictly protected. Nevertheless, due to the rapid development of the coastal zone of the island, the population of monk seal has dramatically decreased in the last decades. The two marine turtles found in the island, the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta Caretta), breed regularly on the beaches of the Akamas Peninsula on the northwest part of the island.


Protection of wild life – Legislation
The three main legislations regulating hunting, wildlife management and protection of birds are the Laws no. 39/1974, no. 158/1990, and no 38/1974. Through these statutes of legislation the framework of hunting policy is set and measures include monitoring of game reserve areas, managing the game species and protected species, patrolling to combat poaching, protecting and maintaining of biotopes, banning all-large scale or non-selective methods of taking, setting bag limits, setting hunting permits (minimum legal age over 21), controlling hunting guns (only single or double shot allowed) etc. According to the Cyprus legislation (Law no. 39/74, Article 15 and 158/1990) the use of the following devices or methods is strictly prohibited: nets, lime sticks, lights, any kind of traps, poison baits, tape recorders and any game callers, artificial light sources, motor vehicles and any other non-selective method of taking is strictly prohibited in Cyprus and violators are prosecuted to the Court.

The Republic of Cyprus has signed and ratified the Bern Convention (Convention on European Wildlife and Natural Habitats) in 1988 (Law no. 24/88), and according to this law all non-game birds are strictly protected fauna species.

The Cyprus Council of Ministers has also decided to proceed with the ratification of the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention) and is expected to become a law in the Republic within the year 2001.

New, more enforceable and strict legislation is under way to fully transpose the EU environmental acquis into Cypriot law. Measures will include higher penalties, fines- on-the-spot for minor offences, a more comprehensive approach in habitat protection, hunters education and public awareness, confiscation of all equipment used in poaching, habitat protection of endangered and vulnerable species etc.

Enforcement of legislation
Through the Game Fund Service, the Ministry of Interior enforces the relevant legislation (Laws no. 39/74, 38/74, 158/1990 and 24/88). The service is presently staffed with approximately 100 game wardens that are responsible for enforcing the game and wildlife laws in general as well as qualified officers who contact research and surveys on wildlife species.

The Cyprus Game Fund Service assures that illegal trapping of birds is a major concern. In the last five years (1996-2000) the Game Fund Service has reported 1.070 cases of poaching including illegal trapping operations. Only in the year 2000, 241 cases of poaching were reported and prosecuted to the Court.

Harmonization with the European Environmental Acquis
Cyprus is now in the process to formally transpose the EU environmental acquis correctly and completely into Cyprus law, as well as to implement it in practice. Cyprus has agreed to comply with all relevant legislation related to the protection of nature by 01.01.2003. Cyprus gives great emphasis on the transposition of the two most important legislation regarding nature protection:
The Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). Work regarding these two Directives is well in progress and preliminary “Natura 2000%26rdquo; sites have been proposed to the European Commission. A significant amount of the island%26rsquo;s surface area is proposed to be included in the “Natura 2000%26rdquo; Network. Cyprus%3f proposals include all Important Bird Areas (IBAs) identified by Bird Life International in their latest publication (No.8 Important Bird Areas in Europe: Priority sites for conservation by M. F. Heath and M.I. Evans, 2000, Vol. 2: Southern Europe). Cyprus is committed to protect these sites effectively by: a) coordinated conservation and management plans, b) research of the ecology and population dynamics of the migratory species, and c) enforce measures based on sound ecological principles to control and manage the taking of the migratory species.

What game and which season in Cyprus.
All game species of Cyprus are legal game species in the European Community. These include the game migratory birds as well. See table below:

Open season. Game involved.
November-December (Wednesdays and Sundays only, 16-18 hunting days). Hare, chukar partridge, black francolin, thrushes, woodpigeon, woodcock.
January-February (Wednesdays and Sundays only). Thrushes, woodpigeon, woodcock, ducks and geese.
End of August (3-4 hunting days) only in the inland of the island. Woodpigeon, turtledove.
September (very limited areas in the coastal regions not exceeding 40 km2, daily, 10-12 hunting days). Woodpigeon, turtledove, quail.

Note: Quotas (bag limits). November - December season. 2 hares, 5 partridges per hunter per hunting day or 2 hares, 4 partridges and one francolin per hunter / per hunting day.

Hunting Policy in Cyprus
Sound wildlife management has been essential for the sustainability of game species in Cyprus. Cyprus supports an approximate number of 45,000-48,000 hunters (figure fluctuates depending on year) or 7% of the population of the island. Traditionally, hunting has been an important part of the people and the culture of Cyprus. Today, sport hunting is an important socio-economic activity and probably the most popular sport in the island. About 25% of adult males in the island are hunters.

Game management in Cyprus involves a multiple system of management focusing on two main themes:
I) Protection of species
Conservation of species is controlled under provisions of the legislations relevant to wildlife management and protection of wild fauna. Under these legislations all protected species mentioned in the Bern Convention are protected and only designated game species may be taken during specific seasons.
ii) Protection and Conservation of habitats and sustainability with respect to wildlife management
There are two kinds of game reserves (no hunting areas) used in order to ensure protection of habitats and sustainability with respect to wildlife management:

Distinctive habitats have been designated as Permanent Game Reserves (no hunting areas). These account to about 900 km2 of the Government controlled area and include the Paphos State Forest area, all wetlands, significant migration corridors etc.

The second reserve category that serves the sustainability to wildlife management is the designation of Game Reserve areas (no hunting areas). Other sustainability measures include the monitoring of bag limits, regulation of the hunting season, etc.

The management of Game Reserve areas (no hunting areas) is one of the major tools used in Cyprus so as to provide the means by which areas are reserved and managed for the conservation of wild stock. These areas act as wildlife reservoirs or “banks%26rdquo; allowing wild-bred fauna to disperse into neighbouring areas and in effect restocking them guaranteeing the long-run sustainability of game species. During the hunting of migratory species additional areas are designated as no hunting areas so that corridors, and passage migrants are well protected. Also some game reserves are specifically designated for the conservation of certain species like the Bonelli%26rsquo;s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), the Black francolin (Francolinus francolinus), and the Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus).

Game Reserves (no hunting areas) are well interspersed all over the hunting areas to ensure sustainability objectives. It is estimated that an additional 1,200 km2 of the Government controlled area is designated as Game Reserve areas (no hunting areas). The total area designated as Game Reserves amounts to about 35% of the Government controlled surface area.

During the hunting of migratory species, additional areas are designated as no hunting areas so that corridors and passage migrants are well protected.

It has been observed that this system has worked very well for Cyprus and led to an increase in the numbers of some native avian species. For instance, the case of the Black Francolin is a classic example where game reserve management has led to a rapid increase of the population of the species. In 1987, the Game Reserve management system was used in the southwest for protecting the core breeding habitats of the species (the river valleys of Ezousa, Xeros, & Diarizos, and Kouklia & Acheleia areas). Since then hunting is only permitted in the surrounding areas - ‘non-core%26rsquo; habitats of the francolin. This has led to a significant increase of the population of the species with surveys showing an approximate number of 36,000 birds in the Paphos district and annual bags of about 6,000-6,500 birds. The black francolin has also been expanding its range due to various management and conservation measures undertaken by the Republic%26rsquo;s authorities.

Use of hunting funds
All funds from hunting licenses are used to support programmes related to wildlife management, protection of endangered species, re-establishment of wildlife populations, etc. The hunting license in Cyprus is CY 35 pounds (60 EURO) per year. Some activities supported by the hunting licenses appear below:
Patrolling the countryside.
Research and survey programmes, i.e. surveys on the Black Francolin, harvest surveys, and monitoring of the Cyprus mouflon population.
Conservation and management of the Cyprus mouflon (Ovis gmelini ophion).
Habitat improvement: Provision of watering devices, cleaning and maintaining natural springs, establishing food plots for wildlife etc.
Re-establishment of wildlife populations.
Wildlife rehabilitation centre, and Game Reserve area management.

Entry Date 8/8/2001