The Cyprus Environmental Stakeholder Forum (CESF) has requested that senior negotiators in the Cyprus peace talks agree to transform the island’s demilitarized buffer zone into a Peace Park to mark Wildlife Conservation Day on December 4.
Academic researchers working in conjunction with the CESF have found that the buffer zone has become a haven for wildlife. Having remained relatively untouched since 1974, when Turkish troops entered Cyprus, the buffer zone has been able to flourish undisturbed and has become a sanctuary for some of the rarest endemic plants and animals in Europe and is a place of special scientific interest. However, in recent years, the tranquility of the zone has been disturbed by illegal poaching, hunting and uncontrolled fires.
The “Green Line”, covering around 3% of the island, is now home to wildlife unique to Cyprus, including the Cyprus mouflon (wild sheep), the Cyprus Bee Orchid and many other species of plants and animals.
In a recent press release, the CESF called for “resources to be provided by both communities to enforce the existing ban on hunting and trapping in the buffer zone, and encourages senior negotiators in the peace talks to consider transforming the area into a Peace Park”.
“In the event of a solution, human developments can take place in harmony with the natural environment, a space which can be devoted to joint eco-tourism and environmentally friendly activities across the divide”, it concluded.
Launched in January 2007, the Cyprus Environmental Stakeholder Forum is a bi-communal, multidisciplinary coalition of environmental stakeholders advocating common solutions to island-wide environmental problems.
A ‘Photo Exhibition on the biodiversity of Cyprus’ exhibiting the biodiversity of the island and the buffer zone will open at the Home for Cooperation (opposite Ledra Palace) in Nicosia on December 6 from 9am until 5pm.