The consultations with the local communities over management plans for Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Natura 2000 sites for birds, have finally been completed. Between November 2014 and June 2016, BirdLife Cyprus and its project partner, I.A.CO Ltd, conducted almost 50 community consultations in local coffee shops, community and visitor centres from Sotira in the East to Neo Chorio in the West. The visits were split in two phases, with the overall aim of securing stakeholder feedback and input. During the first phase (November 2014 – March 2015), the main purpose was to inform the local communities of the aims of the 3-year project and give them a first idea of what they should expect from the management plans we were drawing up.
Later, between February and June 2016, the second and final round of visits took place. Our goal this time was to inform and engage in an active way the local communities in the preparation of the management plans and ask for their own ideas and opinion on the management measures. During this effort we encountered some negative reactions from landowners and also low participation, elements that show a lack of interest and perhaps ignorance on the Natura 2000 network and its importance. However, this was also an opportunity for us to discuss in more detail with the local people on several issues of interest to them, such as the Agricultural schemes.
All the above is part of the 3- year contract with the Ministry of the Interior’s Game and Fauna Service for the “Preparation of Conservation Objectives and Management Plans for SPAs designated by Cyprus under the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC)”– a tender won jointly by BirdLife Cyprus and I.A.CO Ltd.
With community consultations completed, we are now entering the final phase of the project, which involves finalising the 30 management plans for delivery to the Ministry in early September. Proper implementation of these management plans holds the key to securing favourable conservation status for SPAs, which are the most important sites for birds in Cyprus