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Lady’s Mile: upgrade with nature in mind?

The beginning of the Lady’s Mile redevelopment project has recently been announced. This precious area is definitely in need of both upgrading and management. The issue now lies in how this will be done, given that it is a very important and protected natural area.
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Lady’s Mile is one of Cyprus’ most popular beach areas. Not only for people, who enjoy the area for swimming, sunbathing, water sports and other activities, but also for wildlife. The small saline pools and low scrub vegetation to the West of the Lady’s Mile road create salt meadows that are crucially important for breeding birds, such as the Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus). Slender-billed Gulls (Larus genei) and other bird species also rely on the pools along Lady’s Mile for feeding and resting. Even Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) venture to Lady’s Mile pools when the water level at the Akrotiri Salt Lake becomes too deep. And it is not just about birds. The Schreiber’s Fringe-fingered Lizard (Acanthodactylus schreiberi), which is Globally Threatened, actually depends on the area’s sand dunes for its survival on this planet. Extremely rare plants, such as Lotus cytisoides, call Lady’s Mile their precious home.

Kentish Plover chick © Spyros Spyrou

Frequent disturbance and uncontrolled access degrade the natural area and puts it at risk. Without the necessary management and law enforcement, the area will continue to be degraded. Threats include uncontrolled access to the pools, off road driving on habitats, the seemingly infinite extension of restaurant parking areas into precious sand dunes and pools as well as the planning of events without an environmental permit.

The absence of a regulatory plan to bring better management of Lady’s Mile has not helped in striking a balance between recreation and nature protection. It is a fact that the area, and especially the road along the coastline and the parking lots of the local restaurants, needs upgrading; this must, however, be done in a way that is compatible with the ecological needs of the species and the protection status of the site.

It was recently announced that the Lady’s Mile redevelopment project is starting, with the Municipality of Limassol announcing that it will be accepting bids for the preparation of the relevant study. BirdLife Cyprus welcomes the press statements of the Mayor of Limassol, who commented on the need to protect the habitat of the area and to bring order to the current situation.

BirdLife Cyprus will be closely following the redevelopment process as it evolves, advocating for the protection and proper management of Lady’s Mile and the entire Akrotiri Peninsula, as it is the most important and most threatened area for birds in Cyprus. We will also be participating in the Advisory Steering Committee, set up by the Mayor to guide on environmental aspects of the planned upgrade. For the latest developments on Akrotiri, stay informed by visiting our website Akrotiri Peninsula SOS – BirdLife Cyprus.

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