BirdLife Cyprus, together with 14 other partners (see below) is participating in a new LIFE Integrated Project that aims to plug this gap. The new project is called LIFE IP Physis and is dedicated to the protection and the proper management of all of our Natura 2000 sites.
What is LIFE IP Physis?
A European “LIFE IP” project means an Integrated Project that is funded by the LIFE programme. Integrated Projects are about the bigger picture in the long term, providing funding for plans, programmes and strategies developed on the regional, multi-regional or national level and allowing Member States to make use of other EU funding sources. For the LIFE IP Physis this means that our actions will take place on a much bigger territorial scale than other projects. The new LIFE IP Physis project aims to come up with better management plans for the whole Natura 2000 network on the island. Management plans can be anything from creating artificial islands inside a wetland so that bird eggs or chicks do not get predated by predators such as foxes or stray cats, control of invasive species that threaten an area’s biodiversity or installing nest boxes to encourage the breeding of certain birds such as the Barn Owl as a measure of pest control in farmlands.
This is the first time a project of this scale will be implemented in Cyprus. This is very exciting news for us, no matter how challenging this project will be to implement, especially when we consider the state of some of our most precious natural areas, such as Paralimni Lake in recent years and the bad news of Flamingo deaths at Larnaka Salt Lakes, both Natura 2000 sites. Paralimni Lake continues to be a prime example of a badly-managed Natura 2000 site in Cyprus. Despite being home to many protected species, including the sub-endemic rare grass snake Natrix natrix cypriaca, Paralimni Lake suffers from disturbance and degradation due to uncontrolled access, uncontrolled draining, poaching and illegal trapping activities, dumping of waste and other materials, while pressure grows for residential development around and within the Lake. In Larnaka Salt Lake, since the beginning of 2020, over 60 dead flamingos died due to lead poisoning. The presence of lead at Larnaka Salt Lakes years after the closure of the shooting range that used to exist there and the cleaning of the Salt Lake demonstrates the urgent need of management of the area, not only to permanently remove the remaining lead from the wetland, but also to tackle persistent problems that continue to degrade the site such as the presence of waste water, the large number of stray cats and disturbance to birds.