69 - Karpaz Peninsula -Mass Demonstration against the destruction of the National Park
By Heidi Trautmann
Protect our Karpaz National Park! From all sides I received urgent messages by email, also announced in facebook, by associations, art groups and private persons to come and join the action day called for by the ‘Protect the Karpaz National Park’ Movement at the Blue Sea Hotel to demonstrate against the destruction of the area. What is the cause for this urgent outcry? Contruction has started to widen the road leading from Dipkarpaz to the St. Adreas Monastery, it is said. Bulldozers are uprooting trees and local plants, against which the above movement has filed a complaint with Nicosia police. Many associations have joined forces to demonstrate against any interference with this last resort of un-spoilt nature.
The Karpaz Peninsula has been declared a National Park since 1976, initiated by Dr. Kenan Atakol when he was Minster of Energy and National Resources. He had also suggested that there be a committee to set up regulations, especially concerning maintenance work of the park, but that has never been put into function.
Karpaz is the last remaining region of untouched natural beauty, its unique landscape and free running animals, its wonderful beaches and untouched bays.
During the last years many efforts from various directions were made to lay hands on this jewel, there were the electrical connections across the pan handle to bring ‘enlightenment’ to the tip; we have them now; there were plans for providing more possibilities for tourism; the first hotels were built in Bafra and slowly but surely the intentions to eat it all hangs like a sword above our necks. There were plans (supported by a local municipality) to have the petrol filling stations along the coast of the peninsula endangering the fauna and flora of the National Park which obviously could be prevented.
Now ideas have been announced to bring in thousands of people (I am reading about figures of 50 – 80.000 people) for a giant music festival in September 2013 on the few lovely beaches in the National Park. Environment groups and biologists, bird protectors fear for the worst and warn that turtle nesting will be disturbed, the habitat for birds and other animals will be destroyed by thousands of feet let loose animated by the music, dirt will be left behind and washed into the sea.
On the website by the Cyprus-based organizer!! it is stated as a fact that the 3-days Silk-route Festival 2013 will take place on the Golden Beaches, that Food and Beverage stalls will be set up, that people are invited to camp there and set up tents which can be bought from the organizer. I hardly dare to imagine what the relative small beaches – compared to the figure of the announced mass of people - will look like after this invasion.
According to a statement made to me by one of the environment associations, a permission for such an event in the Park was not issued by the Ministry of Environment.
Anyway, it is better for Cyprus, for the benefit of everybody including the nature, to make society’s strong will and standpoint publicly known in case some people in the background will pull their own business ashore. Up to here and not one step further!
Among the demonstrators are the environmental associations, biologist association, Green Peace, Bird Protection Association, EMAA Eastern Mediterranean Art Association, Cyprus Turkish Medical Association, Toparlaniyoruz, Baraka Association and many other associations, artists and other people concerned and worried. They will express their concern and it will be distributed by the media to all corners of the island.
Intensive studies have been carried out for years with respect to development of the Karpaz region, one was done by EU under the title “Leader Programme for the Turkish Cypriot Community, Local Development Strategy for the Karpaz Area”. No further comments.
In my opinion, changes that are brought to this very sensitive area, can never be undone once they have settled. Seen from another point of view: The Karpaz National Park is only attractive to tourists as long as it remains as unique as it is. They will always remember it as something special, and the harder it is to get there the more interesting it is. The trend of tourism tends towards unspoilt nature and not holiday villages, ghettos, and I know from friends who are in the tourism business, tourism is a very delicate movement, in no time they turn their heads elsewhere.
We should not cut the branch we are sitting on!
Here is a comment by the Biologists’ Association:
The Biologists’ Association, a Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) member, made the news this week, with its strong condemnation of what it calls the “destruction” of the Karpaz national park in the northeast of Cyprus.
“The authorities are distributing the Karpaz national park as presents to some people,” said Niyazi Turkseven, general secretary of the Biologists’ Association. “The area was announced as 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. However we are still failing to protect the area.” Mr. Turkseven added that “one of the main reasons for failing to protect the area is because the authorities want to give away valuable land to their allies, supporters and cronies.”
The construction of electricity infrastructure, road widening, filling up of the Ronnas river, and donation of land for a university campus has begun to erode this sensitive ecosystem. “It is just not acceptable to see the authorities destroy an area which is incredibly important for cultural heritage and the environment,” said Turkseven. “It is not only one of the most important sites for Cyprus but it is very valuable for the entire world.”
Two days after I have written the above text, messages came in that the announced event of demonstration was met – literally – by an opposing local demonstration; a mass of local people were called up by loudspeakers to gather on the village square in order to prevent the people coming towards the village from entering. !We want the road! Abusive words were shouted and it ended in a disaster. The ‘Protect the Karpaz Group’ was not able to deliver their message! What a sad situation! I will keep you informed.