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Cyprus Natural Environment

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Information on the natural environment to be found in Cyprus

Milomeri Waterfalls In The Troodos Mountains                  Photo ©

The country has two mountain ranges: the Pentadaktylos range which runs along almost the entire northern coast, and the Troodos massif in the central and south-western parts of the island. Cyprus' coastal line is indented and rocky in the north with long sandy beaches in the south.

The north coastal plain, covered with olive and carob trees, is backed by the steep and narrow Pentadaktylos mountain range of limestone, rising to a height of 1.024 m. In the south the extensive mountain massif of Troodos, covered with pine, dwarf oak, cypress and cedar, culminates in the peak of Mount Olympus, 1.953 m. above sea level. Between the two ranges lies the fertile plain of Messaoria.

Cyprus is almost surrounded by coastal valleys where the soil is alluvial and fertile, suitable for agriculture. Arable land in Cyprus constitutes 46,8% of the total area of the island.  Rivers are seasonal and only flow after heavy rain.

Protection of the Environment

The protection of the environment is a very important component of the country’s economic and social policies. With Cyprus’ accession to the European Union its environmental policy had to be totally revised as part of the harmonization process with EU requirements. This resulted in the adoption of over 100 laws and regulations covering a wide range of issues relating to the environment, including water, soil and air pollution, nature protection, waste management and noise regulation. The improvement in the legislation has established solid foundations for the implementation and enforcement of the environmental policy.

Environment Service

The Environment Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment had undertaken much of the task of harmonization of the environmental policy with the European acquis communautaire for the environment. The Service is authorized to ensure environmental policy and law enforcement, and the co-ordination of EU environmental issues and legislation. It provides advice on the environmental policy and co-ordinates plans and programs that deal with the environment.

The Environment Service is the National Focal Point for the intergovernmental organizations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the National Point of Contact for the following international Conventions: Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna; the Bern Convention for the Protection of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats; the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea; the Basel Convention for the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste; the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Biosafety Protocol; the Convention to Combat Desertification; the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol; the Ramsar Convention for the Protection of Wetlands; the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context; as well as the Aarhus Convention for Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

The Environment Service has a wide range of specific responsibilities, covering a multitude of subjects, including:

The laws on environmental and strategic impact assessments, which deal with the assessment of the impact on the environment from specific projects, plans or programs, thus ensuring the integration of environmental matters in project plan formulation.

Access to environmental information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. The legislative provisions in place ensure public access to information held by, or for, local authorities, and also the timely and effective participation of the public in the preparation, amendment or review of plans or programs that deal with the environment.

Environmental awareness by the public which is currently promoted through the preparation of an action plan for the promotion of technologies and products which are preferable from the environmental point of view.

The Action Plan for Environmental Technologies, through which measures will be taken to identify new technologies to resolve environmental problems and to overcome inadequacies in developing these technologies.

The Law on Genetically Modified Organisms, which provides for the regulation of the import, marketing and the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms, with the basic objective of ensuring the protection of human health and the environment.

Regulation of the substances that deplete the ozone layer, whereby legislation places strict criteria on the use of these substances and prohibits the import of equipment which contain them.

Climate change, with efforts concentrated on the reduction in the rate of increase of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on the legislation, a greenhouse gas emissions trading system was established.

Regulation of industrial pollution, through the law on the control and prevention of water and soil pollution arising from industrial and animal husbandry activities, as well as the law on integrated pollution prevention and control, which promotes measures to prevent pollution at source and issues directives to industrial and animal husbandry facilities to create the appropriate infrastructure for their environmentally sustainable management.

The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, which promotes the improvement of the environmental performance of organizations through the preparation and implementation of environmental management systems.

The Ecolabel Scheme, which aims to promote products with comparatively limited impact on the environment and provide consumers with accurate and scientifically verified information and advice regarding various products.

The protection and management of the natural environment, to be achieved mainly through the Natura 2000 Network of protected areas. The areas that have been proposed for inclusion into the Network as protected areas cover all types of habitats of Cyprus and most of the endemic species of the island.

Management plans for five sites of the Network are currently being prepared and tenders will be announced for the preparation of plans for another eight areas. Legislation is also in force for the protection of endangered species, placing restrictions on their import or export.

The assessment and management of environmental noise, which provides for the establishment of a strategy, intended to prevent or reduce the adverse effects arising from exposure to environmental noise.

Waste management, which includes legislation for the management of solid and hazardous wastes, including electrical and electronic equipment, batteries and accumulators as well as packaging and packaging waste.

Regulation of the quality of water, to prevent nitrate pollution from agricultural sources and to control bathing water quality.

The Environment Service enforces the laws regarding the above and formulates and implements related policy issues. The Service also actively encourages environmental awareness, through dissemination of environmental information and support to non-governmental organizations for awareness campaigns and seminars. It also coordinates events such as “Green Week", "World Environment Day" and "Mobility Week".

The Environment Service is also responsible for providing advice for the formulation and implementation of the appropriate policy. One of the key policies is that of sustainable development, which is implemented through multi-annual strategic development programs and management plans, such as the Strategy for the Environment and the National Lisbon Program, which aim to achieve sustainable development and a high standard of living whilst ensuring the protection of the environment.

The relevant components of the national plan for the EU Lisbon Strategy place emphasis on issues like energy efficiency; environmental technologies; transport; green public procurement; waste management; the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; the reduction in the loss of biological diversity; and the internalization of external environmental costs.

The main policy priorities pursued by Cyprus include the establishment and expansion of the environmental infrastructure for the sustainable management of resources and waste; the protection, preservation and management of coastal areas; the promotion of energy saving and renewable energy sources; the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the internalization of environmental costs.

Other important plans currently under implementation include the Waste Management Strategy, which aims at the development and enforcement of a flexible, economically viable and effective policy for the management of solid and hazardous waste and includes the type, quantity and origin of waste that should be managed, the objectives for reduction, re-use and recycling of waste, the management methods to be applied with special reference to the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, as well as the Strategic Plan for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.PIO