The fencing, which will be erected along the north side of the marsh and will be adjacent to the road of the site, aims at keeping the cattle in the site. The cattle are currently tethered. This change in current grazing regime will allow cattle roam freely and graze in a more natural way with the aim of pushing back the reeds and creating suitable habitat for birds. The fence will also provide a way to control access within the site and will therefore minimise disturbance to birds. There will be some access points along the fence which will allow access only to authorised people only, i.e. for researchers, competent authorities, farmers and people collecting basketry materials. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the site from the viewing points and birdwatching hides that will be created for this purpose within 2016. In the near future, signs will also be placed on the fence, explaining the reasoning for the fence and the importance of the site.
The sheds aim to provide cattle protection from harsh weather conditions. In total, four sheds will be erected on site and these will be used by local graziers for hosting their cattle. The sheds will also include feeders and water points for cattle.
The fence and sheds are the first steps to improve grazing methods that will help towards the management of Akrotiri Marsh for conservation. At the same time this infrastructure will improve cattle welfare.
BirdLife Cyprus, as a lead partner of the project is responsible for the implementation and supervision of works. The works that will be starting in early March require the presence of some machinery on site and BirdLife Cyprus with the support of project partners and other stakeholders involved in the project will be closely following the progress and implementation of works.
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.