Akamas Peninsula

If God had wanted turtles on the beach, He would have given them money to pay for the sunbeds.

The Akamas Peninsula is in the far west of Cyprus at its most westerly point. Named after the son of Theseus, hero of the Trojan Wars and founder of the city-kingdom of Soli.

The Akamas Peninsula is an area of outstanding natural beauty - deep gorges, a wild landscape, wide sandy bays. It is also an area of great biodiversity and ecological significance. Home to 530 plant species, a third of the total for Cyprus, 126 of which are endemic to Cyprus. An unspoilt wild place thanks to its inaccessibility.

Cyprus sits at the crossroads of three major flora zones - Europe, Africa and Asia. As a consequence Cyprus has a high number of plant species, 1750, of which 127 are endemic. The number of species found on Akamas runs to approximately 530, of which 33 are endemic. The variety of fauna is equally impressive - 168 birds, 12 mammals, 20 reptiles and 16 butterfly species.

Almost all the geological strata found on Cyprus is represented in Akamas. This coupled with the varied topography has led to a wide variety of microclimates which in turn has led to the large biodiversity and sheer natural beauty of the area.

At Lara Bay, an important turtle breeding site. Home to two endangered turtle species - green turtle and hawks-bill turtle.

The importance of the Akamas Peninsula is recognised far beyond the shores of Cyprus. The European Council has included the Akamas Peninsula within its Mediterranean protection programme. In a report, commissioned by the Cyprus Government and financed by the World Bank, it was recommended that the Akamas Peninsula be treated as a Biosphere Reserve which would include a large National Park area.

Within Cyprus, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have campaigned hard for the Akamas Peninsula to be declared a National Park.

The Akamas Peninsula is under threat, property developers whose eyes are dazzled by dollars at the thought of the last bit of unspoilt Cyprus awaiting exploitation, the Greek Orthodox Church who believe they have a God given right to exploit the land they own and the British Military, who in a throwback to colonial days, use it for military training.

The Akamas Peninsula has powerful defenders, FoE, Greenpeace, Green Party and the tourist industry in Ayia Napa. The first three are known for their commitment to the environment, but questions have been raised about the latter. Is it a case of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, having laid waste to Ayia Napa they know at first hand the results of uncontrolled development, or a case of falling tourist figures for Cyprus, where one extra hotel bed in the west is one more empty bed in Ayia Napa?

The Cypriot government is turning a blind eye to illegal hotel developments within Akamas. When, the then Foreign Minister Michaelides was allowed to continue with illegal hotel development, how can the Cypriot government expect to be taken seriously by the rest of the world when it tolerates this level of corruption within its own ranks? This and other illegal hotels should be bulldozed to the ground as a warning to other illegal developers. The Michaelides family own the Thanos chain of hotels, tourists to Cyprus should boycott this chain.

The Cypriot government are quick to accuse Rauf Denktash and the illegal TRNC of corruption: 'he who casts the first stone ....'

There is little point in safeguarding Akamas from abuse by the British military if it simply opens the way for greedy, corrupt, Cypriot speculators.

More information

CTO has produced an excellent illustrated booklet 'Nature Trails of the Akamas', one of a series of booklets.
(c) Keith Parkins 1997-2006 -- September 2006 rev 5