In the beginning of February the European Commission published for the first time ever an overview of the EU environmental policies and laws related to the 28 Member States. Within the report one can find references on the challenges, opportunities and also on gaps related to a number of environmental policies for every MS.
More specifically, points of excellence were given to Cyprus for:
- The fact that 99,1% of bathing waters in 2015 were of excellent quality, and
- The fact that 28,8% of the island’s land is included in the Natura 2000 network (while SPA on birds cover 26,7%) These percentages are much higher than the EU average.
On the other hand, the most important challenges regarding Cyprus, and therefore the actual issues that need to be addressed, include waste management, water management and better protection of the Natura 2000 areas from actions and development activities which degrade or fragment these areas. With regards to the Natura 2000, special reference was made on the proper assessment and correct implementations of mitigation measures. Examples include developments such as the Limni golf course, Oreites windfarm, Agia Napa Marina, etc.
For the serious problem of illegal trapping the review states that “another important challenge for implementing nature legislation is the persisting problem of illegal trapping of wild birds, especially migratory birds, with the use of nets, lime-sticks and sound producing devices” which remains at “unacceptably high levels”, adding that “illegal consumption in restaurants also remains an issue”. In its review the EU is calling for “enhancing policies and enforcement actions to eliminate illegal bird trapping”, something that has been repeatedly called for from the Cyprus Government.
Unfortunately, it seems that the Cyprus Government is ignoring the EU as the Game and Fauna Service has prepared a catastrophic hunting law amendment, in our view lacking clarity, introducing ‘loopholes’ and trying to relax the existing legislation. BirdLife Cyprus together with other environmental organisations has opposed this law amendment (you can read our position paper submitted to the Parliamentary Committee on Environment in September 2016 here, in Greek only). The hunting law amendment is expected to be taken to vote to the Plenary of the Cyprus House of Representatives in the coming weeks.