Projects - Safe Haven Project
SAFE HAVEN PROJECT
Our first ever nature reserve
Our first ever nature reserve is located in the Famagusta district, close to the villages of Frenaros, Avgorou, and Vrysoulles, all of which experience high levels of illegal bird trapping and poaching. The land is approximately 30,000 m2 and about half of it is already planted with many different species of flora, providing a good habitat to birds. The second half of the land, currently a cereal-growing field, will be planted with native plants with the aim of creating a range of different habitats, from small ponds to a wildflower meadow, to create a reserve for birds and other wildlife too. Our aim is to turn this land into a safe place and passage for birds, somewhere where they can rest during their migration journey. At the moment the land has been fenced off and is not accessible to the public, but we are hoping in the future to make controlled access possible.
Our vision for the Safe Haven Project
Our vision is the creation of our own private nature reserve to serve as a safe stopover for migrating birds, in the middle of an area in Cyprus where illegal killing and trapping of birds is still widespread. Our aim is to create a diverse habitat with plants, insects, birds and other wildlife finding refuge at our reserve, as well as to use it for environmental outdoor educational activities and for scientific research and monitoring. Funding permitting, we aim to explore the future expansion of our small nature reserve.
What inspired this project?
For the idea to create a nature reserve in the heart of a trapping region we have none other to thank but Christoph Hein, our contact person at NABU. Christoph has been visiting the Messina Straits in Italy for years to support the efforts to combat the illegal bird killing that was happening there. The Messina Straits, on the southern tip of Italy, was once one of Europe’s worst “blackspots” for the illegal killing of raptors, especially Honey Buzzards. In the ‘80s “anti-poaching camps” began springing in the area with volunteers from all over the world travelling there to keep watch over the migrating birds. Their presence alone deterred many poachers, and volunteers were also quick to report any illegal killing incidents they witnessed. Over the years, this, combined with the creation of an environmental centre in the area, changed local attitudes, and now members of the community work alongside volunteers to protect the birds that pass through their area. As a result, the number of Honey Buzzard casualties per year have gone from 5,000 to only 100, and it has been estimated that at least 85,000 Honey Buzzards would have died over the past three decades if poaching had not been addressed.
Using this on the ground experience and success story at the Messina straits, we are also aiming to use the Safe Haven project to start bringing about change by changing mindsets and hearts in this corner of Cyprus where illegal bird killing is widespread.