Last week around 200 environmentalists faced opposition by local residents over the issue of the road widening in Dipkarpaz. It appears that local authorities had been less than truthful about the amount of damage done to the environment.
Hundreds of olive, carob and juniper trees have been removed. Two hillsides both providing nesting sites for migratory birds have been levelled to make way for a road, originally planned to be ten metres wide. The road width is now under review following the demonstration.
The road project is being tackled in three stages. The final stage will see the road running up to Apostolos Andreas Monastery. Renovations for the grounds of the monastery are already under way.
Karpaz road will also be the highway to the planned rock festival which will be taking place in September this year. Clearly, locals see the road and the festival as an opportunity to make some money. They also said that they had been promised road improvements for years and feel that it is their right to have it. Their attitude is understandable.
Environmental issues become more critical by the week. Mankind has been damaging his environment for centuries, decimating woodlands, clearing forests and completely changing the original landscape; especially so following the coming of the industrial age. Those who feel that they have been denied this dubious benefit want their share. This leaves the rest of us hungry and desperate to save what is left. The double-edged sword of progress makes its mark once more.
The Karpaz was designated a national park in 1977, then in 1995 it was declared as a site of historical and environmental importance and in 2007 as a Specially Protected Area. Three quarters of plant species and animals specific to this island are to be found in Karpaz. Some of the flora and fauna can only be found in that area. Monks Seals are few in number and visit the Karpaz coast. Green turtles also have nesting sites there.
Locals may indeed, benefit from the increase in tourism and certainly Turkish businessmen will also benefit.
But in the end, we are all losers if destruction of this special place is allowed to continue. It may be trite to say this once again, but the idea still remains true; that we are the caretakers of this planet. Don’t we have an obligation to save at least some of it for the generations yet to come?