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Cyprus Forests

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Information on the forests to be found in Cyprus

Vouni Village                                                Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

THE CYPRUS FORESTS

Forest vegetation on state and private land covers about 42% of the total area of the island (about 18.5% are high forests and 23.5% are other wooded land). They are natural forests consisting mainly of Calabrian pine (Pinus brutia) and Black pine (Pinus nigra ssp. Pallasiana), which covers the higher slopes of the Troodos Range.  Other species include the Cypress, Juniper, Plane tree and Alder. Endemic species include the Golden oak (Quercus alnifolia) which is restricted on the Troodos mountain range, and Cedar (Cedrus brevifolia), which is restricted around the Tripylos area in the Pafos Forest.

The Department of Forests, (www.moa.gov.cy/forest) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, administers the state forests, implements government policy with regard to forests and is responsible for implementing plans for forest development.

The forests of Cyprus are an important national resource. They provide timber and non-wood products and contribute significantly to the beauty of the landscape, the preservation of the national heritage, the protection of water supplies, and contribute to the economic development of village communities. Forests also attract visitors from foreign countries, in this way contributing to the national economy. Issues concerning the preservation of forests are safeguarded by the Forest Law and by provisions for proper management in line with an excellent National Forest Program and forest policy.

Objectives of the National Forest Program

The general objectives of the National Forest Program are in line with the forest policy that is geared, at the development of the forest sector in general, assisting the local communities to benefit as much as possible from this and upgrading the recreational and social services that the state and the forests provide to the public, through the following targets:

The sustainable development, protection and conservation of natural resources.

The expansion of forests through forestation of government lands and abandoned private lands.

The preservation and improvement of the natural environment and natural heritage.

The expansion and upgrading of the infrastructure for tourism and recreation, and

Environmental education for citizens.

Fire Hazard – Climatic Changes

In Cyprus, as in many other countries of the Mediterranean basin, fire is considered by far the most destructive single agent that poses a threat to the forests and other wooded areas. The prolonged hot, dry and windy summers, the configuration of the ground and the flammability of the vegetation favour the outbreak and quick spreading of fires. Furthermore, the urbanization, the abandonment of rural areas and the increased number of visitors to the forests for recreation, raise the fire hazard to very high levels.

According to the forest fire incidents it can be concluded that the largest percentage of forest fires in Cyprus, and especially the most destructive ones, are due to human negligence as well as agricultural (22%) and recreational activities (14%), burning of rubbish, hunting, military and other human activities (6%). A number of fires are attributed to natural causes (11%). However, these types of fires are not a significant threat to the forests, as they occur during winter and the areas burnt are usually very small. An important number of forest fires are due to arson (14%).

Climatic changes, also affect Cyprus to a large extent. The reduced precipitation, the prolonged drought periods and the high temperatures of the last years have led to dieback of forest trees in the forests.

The Department of Forests has prepared an Action Plan to cope with the negative impacts of drought.

The Action Plan includes a number of measures some of which are:

Monitoring the effects of drought on forest ecosystems.

Implementation of suitable silvicultural treatments.

Adoption of a new reforestation policy.

Reduction of felling in forest areas affected by drought.

Adoption of measures for detecting and suppressing forest fires.

Recreation Grounds in Forest Areas

The Forestry Department allocates a great part of its resources to the creation, improvement and expansion of picnic and camping sites for the public, as well as to the establishment, development and maintenance of National Forest Parks within the state forest.

Recreation grounds such as picnic and camping sites, nature trails, viewpoints, bicycle paths, botanical centers and gardens are improved. Within the area of the state forests there are 43 picnic sites managed by the Forestry Department with a total capacity for 23.000 persons. They provide all the basic facilities for daily excursions like barbeques, potable water, tables and latrines. All the sites provide facilities for wheelchair users. Five camping sites with a total capacity for 2.400 persons are situated within the state forests. Three of them are managed by the Forestry Department while the other two by other agencies.

Nature Trails

Recently, many nature trails (about 60) have been established in various parts of the Cyprus forests (Akamas, Pafos, Troodos, Limassol, Adelfi, Macheras, and Kavo Greko), with a total length of about 200 km. Nature trails attract many walkers both from Cyprus and abroad, giving them the opportunity to study the flora and geology of Cyprus and enjoy its environment and scenery.

Visitor Centres

Two Visitor Centres have been constructed, one in the Troodos National Forest Park (Troodos Square) in 2002, and the other one at Athalassa National Forest Park in 2004. Their creation is in line with the objectives of the forest policy. Their purpose has a recreational, educational, training and informative character giving emphasis to the local environment of the Troodos area and the Nicosia – Larnaka lowlands respectively.

In September 2008 the visitor centre at Athalassa National Forest Park was upgraded to an Environment Educational Centre and a teacher was appointed.PIO

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