The Darwin project for the restoration of Akrotiri Marsh organised an open discussion on 13 April 2016 for birdwatchers, nature photographers and visitors of Akrotiri Marsh to present the plans for visitor facilities and listen to feedback from participants. During the meeting, BirdLife Cyprus gave an overview of the project’s aim and activities and then RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) which has extensive experience in nature reserve management and visitor facilities provided some details on the location of the birdwatching hides and the new habitat features the project is creating this autumn (2016).
The project proposes to create a small circular path that will pass by a birdwatching hide at the southeast side of the marsh. This hide will provide views to freshwater pools that will be created, aiming mainly to benefit the Ferruginous Duck – an Annex I species for which Akrotiri Marsh in one of the few sites in Cyprus where this species breeds. Another birdwatching platform is proposed at the north side of the marsh. This hide will provide views to some scrapes with nesting islets for waders focusing mainly on Black-winged Stilts. This hide will also take into account access for people with mobility problems as suggested during the discussion, as well as the need for good light for photographers.
At the meeting, the need for fencing of the site was explained and it was clarified that the project proposes to restrict access to the site during breeding season, i.e. March until June to minimise disturbance to breeding birds. However, access to vehicles will be restricted to authorised people only all year round. The fence works will start on 9 May 2016.
The meeting proved to be a fruitful discussion as it gave the opportunity to an important audience to express their views and receive information on future plans for Akrotiri Marsh. The project will take into account the needs of different users at Akrotiri Marsh, i.e. graziers, people who collect plants for basketry, educators, and birdwatchers and nature photographers.
The Darwin Plus project “Akrotiri Marsh Restoration: a flagship wetland in the Cyprus SBAs” is funded by the Darwin Initiative through UK Government funding to restore Akrotiri Marsh and its biodiversity. BirdLife Cyprus is the lead partner in collaboration with two more partners, the Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre and RSPB (BirdLife partner in the UK). This ecosystem-based conservation project has a duration of 2 years, between April 2015 and March 2017.
More information for the project can be found on the project website www.akrotirimarsh.org.