Highlights from 2019

5 by Emma Louise Photography_450_850_crp

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In many ways, 2019 was a challenging year for nature in Cyprus, but despite that, or because of it (!), we have a lot to be proud of, having worked tirelessly to safeguard birds and their habitats. As the year comes to an end, we take a look back at some of the things that we achieved in 2019.

1. Started a four-year effort to save the Griffon Vulture in Cyprus

2019 marked the start of a four-year LIFE-funded project titled ‘LIFE with Vultures’. By joining forces with the Game and Fauna Service, Terra Cypria and the Vulture Conservation Foundation the project aims to prevent the extinction of the Griffon Vulture population in Cyprus and take measures to protect it, through concerted actions to address the major threats to the species. Specifically, the project includes actions against the use of poison baits, actions to counter collisions with overhead powerlines as well as actions to expand the feeder network that provides safe supplementary food to the vultures. Through the project, Griffon Vultures will also be brought from Spain for release in Cyprus, in order to strengthen the extremely diminished Cypriot population. The ‘LIFE with Vultures’ project, will not only benefit vultures, but also other wildlife as well as a large number of dog owners who lose their dogs to poisoning in the countryside every year.

2. Began creating our first ever nature reserve

© Silvio A. Rusmigo

A few kilometres east of Akhna Dam, in the heart of Famagusta district, a new hope for birds is taking shape. Having leased two plots of land near Frenaros village, in 2019 we began hands-on work with the aim to turn this land into a safe haven for birds, somewhere where they can safely rest during their migration journey and avoid being caught and killed by trappers. The land is approximately 29,500 m2 and about half of it is already planted with many different species of flora, providing a good existing habitat to birds. Τhe second half of the land will be planted with native plants with the aim to create a range of different habitats, from small ponds to a wildflower meadow, to try and accommodate a range of bird species. Albeit small, it is in essence our first ever nature reserve that we are very proud of. In the future, we hope we can use the area for other purposes as well, such as education, research, and perhaps even for birdwatching. If all goes well, we may be able to expand and make the safe haven even larger. We would like to thank NABU, our BirdLife partner in Germany, for making this possible.

3. We pushed for the safeguarding of protected Natura 2000 sites

© Silvio A. Rusmigo

When our fight for the protection and proper management of our most precious natural areas is vindicated, this gives us the strength to continue the struggle and the right to imagine a better future for nature in our country. In 2019, we managed to keep Cape Greco safe from golf developments. Our pressure contributed to ensuring that Cape Greco can remain the important natural area that it is today, providing an important refuge for birds, migratory and resident alike. We also reacted against a concert that was about to go ahead without an environmental permit at Lady’s Mile. We asked the organizers to move the event to an alternative location and also mobilized the public to speak up with us. The response from the public was overwhelming and the British Bases stated that they would not allow the concert to go ahead. Eventually, the event eventually moved to an alternative non-environmentally sensitive location.

4. Our message reached over 4500 people

© Emma Louise Photography

This year, our message reached over 4500 people, children and adults alike, through our school programme and the many events we organized or participated in. Our aim is to inspire people, and the younger generations in particular, about the natural world around us and inform about the need to protect it. Out of all of these, we cannot help but highlight the ‘Celebration of autumn migration’, which took place at Athalassa National Forest Park last October. At the event, over 200 people celebrated autumn migration with us with a ringing demo, birdwatching and many creative activities – our biggest event yet! You can stay up-to-date with our future events through our Facebook page or by subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter.

5. Our pressures to tackle illegal bird trapping paid off once more

© Ben Porter

We continued our systematic monitoring of bird trapping for the 19th year in a row, reporting any trapping locations to the competent authorities for further action. Moreover, the RSPB Investigations team came to Cyprus for the fourth consecutive autumn, and with our support they worked closely with the SBA Police installing covert cameras in active trapping locations. The results of this ongoing cooperation speak for themselves, with many trappers arrested, prosecuted and given deterrent court fines and sentences the past few years. We remain committed to combatting this problem and we will continue the fight until it is completely eradicated.

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As we are a membership-based organization, we derive our strength from the support of our members. Our work would not have been possible without their support. With every new member, our voice becomes louder and stronger, and our campaigning and lobbying for change becomes more effective. You can also join us in our mission to protect nature in Cyprus with your membership.


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