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Akrotiri wetlands back to former glory

Following last week’s opening of a new bird hide on Akrotiri Marsh, the Bases Environmental Department are urging nature lovers to make the most of the facilities now available to them.

Over the past two years, the Akrotiri marshlands have been restored to their former glory, thanks largely to the UK Government’s Darwin Project, which provides financial support to countries rich in biodiversity but short on financial support.

The project, which has aided the opening of three new bird hides within the Sovereign Base Areas – two in Akrotiri and one in Zakaki – has seen the Bases environmental team successfully work alongside Bird Life Cyprus, the Forestry Department, the Game Service and several other organisations from the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the local communities.

That collaborative effort has seen grazing cattle reintroduced, reed areas opened up, walking paths created, the promotion of traditional basketry making and more eco-tourism generated and, according to Pantelis Charilaou, the Bases Environmental Officer, now is the time to enjoy everything the Akrotiri area has to offer.

He explained: “This has been a successful two-year project which began in 2015 and the Akrotiri wetlands can now offer so much to bird watchers and nature lovers as a whole.

“This project has allowed us to create these new bird hides which means people can now come and watch the birds in a protected environment.

“In the past, the area was open, so people would just drive their cars into the area and disturb the natural habitat of the nesting birds.  Now that can be avoided.

“We now have vital infrastructure in place for Akrotiri to thrive and people can watch that as it happens.”

The success of the project has been a result of many organisations working together and Charilaou was quick to thank all those who were involved.

He said: “This success has been a result of a lot of departments working together, and now I hope people will come along and enjoy the results of all that hard work.

“The marsh area is the most important freshwater wetland in Cyprus, with more than 300 bird species traditionally living there, and we hope it will remain that way for many years to come now.”

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