The second and final round of consultations with local communities over management plans for Special Protection Areas (SPAs), i.e. Natura 2000 sites for birds, is in full swing. Between mid-February and mid-April, a total of 15 meetings were completed by BirdLife Cyprus and its contract partner, consultants IACO Environmental. The communities visited ranged from Ayia Napa and Paralimni in the south east to the Troodos and Diarizos areas further west.
In total, 30 village meetings will take place across all districts over the 5 months from February to June 2016. The discussions aim at engaging local residents in the drawing up of management plans for the 30 SPAs designated for birds across Cyprus, a major project BirdLife Cyprus and IACO are tasked to complete before the end of this year.
The first round of 20 community visits under the project took place in late 2014 and early 2015, with the aim then being to inform local residents of the aims of the project and get their first feedback. For the ‘round 2’ meetings, the aim is to get feedback on the draft SPA management plans drawn up by BirdLife Cyprus and IACO.
While attendance has at times been disappointing, the meetings often prove to be lively and worthwhile events, despite the negative reactions of some landowners whose land could be affected by Natura 2000 status. BirdLife Cyprus and IACO seek to emphasize the advantages that Natura 2000 designation can bring, provided an alternative and more sustainable development model is adopted.
All this is part of the 3-year contract with the Interior Ministry’s Game & Fauna Service for ‘Preparation of Conservation Objectives and Management Plans for SPAs designated by Cyprus under the Birds Directive (2009/147/ΕΚ)’ – a tender BirdLife Cyprus won jointly with I.A.CO Environmental & Water Consultants Ltd.