Ancient or ‘giant’ trees are the longest-lived and largest plant species on our planet. Some of these trees stand upright despite the years, resisting the tests of harsh weather and time. They have escaped the destructive fury of fire and man.
Here in Cyprus, these trees, which are the living monuments of nature, are closely tied to our history, legends and traditions, and are an integral and precious part of our natural heritage. Some are considered sacred and as such have their own special significance, while others stand due to their age and dimensions. Forestry Department director Takis Papachristophorou, spoke to us about these trees’ importance:
-What do we mean by saying that trees can be ‘nature monuments’ and which ones are the most important in our country?
– Trees that are considered nature monuments are usually very large and a few, or several centuries, old. One of the oldest trees in our country is the terebith tree of Apeshia, 1500 years old, the terebith tree of Polis Chrysochous, 1100 years old, the Apostle Philip’s laurel of Apostle Philip of Omodos, 1000 years old, the oak tree of Laneia, 800 years old, the oriental plane tree of Agia Mavri, 800 years old, the olive trees in Anglisides and Xyliatos, 800 years old, the sycamore tree of Agia Napa, 600 years old, the kermes oak of Panagia Theoskepasti in Kalopanayiotis, 800 years old, the Oak Tree of Chandria 350 years old, the carob tree in Steni, in the province of Paphos, 220 years old, the almond tree at Lefkara 150 years old, the juniper tree in Cape Greco,150-years-old, the golden oak at Kremmos tis Pellis, 200 years old, the vine tree of Argaka, 120 years old, the oak of Pyrgos Tillirias 120 years old and many more.
-What are the criteria under which trees are chosen to be declared as monuments and how many such trees have been declared as protected so far?
– A tree can be declared as protected if it meets certain requirements such as having a large trunk or a crown rare or unique in its kind, is surrounded by historical or religious tradition, of it dominates a region, etc. By the end of 2017, 115 individual trees and 27 tree groups had been declared as protected.