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South Karpas

South Karpaz SEPA received official legal protection as an important natural resource for the northern part of Cyprus and was declared a “Special Environment Protected Area” according to “Environment Law (21/97)” article 11, by the TCc authorities.

This protected area is situated on the southern coastline of the Karpaz peninsula which is at the Eastern end of the island of Cyprus, this protected area includes 12.2 km of coastline. The protected area encloses 1464 hectares of dunes and other habitats, together with a marine protected zone which has an area of 1,590 hectares, providing a total protected area of 3,054 hectares. It consists of an extensive interior area with four small separate beaches. This protected area forms a continuation running south-westwards from the Karpaz protected area and includes important turtle nesting beaches. The protected area lies between the villages of Dipkarpaz and Kaleburnu. Finally, as the South Karpaz Coastal zone stretches towards the south – west of the peninsula in a line; beaches are connected with each other through a dirt road (usually running along the stream) parallel to the road between the Dipkarpaz village and the Kaleburnu village. This track is mainly used by the villagers on their tractors to access their fields for agricultural purposes or to the enclosed area where they might be keeping their animals at. However, on the most southern tip of this stretch lies the Defne and Mine beaches and there is patio/ parking area.

This site is selected because of its importance; especially for both nationally and internationally important sea turtle rookery. One of the main reasons, which make the area an important is the high number of the nests for green (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles at beaches formerly named as Beyza, Laden, Dolphin, İkidere, Mine and Defne. The advantage of this to the area is those natural habitats that do exist are better preserved, because of the less human activity.

The area has been included in Karpaz Ordinance and proposed as “Special Environment Protected Area” to the Council of Ministers by the Environment Protection Department and it is declared as SEPA according to Environment Law. Additionally, there is a subject plan, which is being prepared by the Town Planning Department. The site has been selected due to the presence of important habitats (Link to habitat types of SEPA)which are listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora) and species which have national and/or international protection value.

The vegetation structure of the site is of typically coastal Mediterranean nature, with a sandy and rocky shoreline. There are mostly natural areas which still persist, such as mattoral and sand dune systems, which are very unique and valuable. There are 10 different habitat types identified for conservation under the Habitats Directive (Dir 92/43/EEC) within the area.

It is known that South Karpaz SEPA is harbouring many endemic and rare plant species in its` own unique special habitats. Some endemic plant species occurring in South Karpaz SEPA are:Bosea cypria, Onopordum cyprium, Ophrys kotschyi, Teucrium micropoidoides and Teucrium karpasiticum (It is North Cyprus endemic plant and micro-endemic to Karpaz peninsula).There are also many endemic plant species of which some are IUCN red listed, Annex II species or listed under Bern Convention.

Part of the area is forestry land and controlled by Forestry Department. The area, which has not been damaged through agricultural activities lie parallel to the sea shore, generally formed of small hills, covered in shrub plant types, which is the region’s original vegetation type. Furthermore, it is known that the Forestry Department did reforestation in various points in the region. Most of these plantations consist of Pinus, Acacia and Eucalyptus (in general)species.

From the list of Annex II species found in the Habitat Directive, South Karpaz SEPA is principally contains marine turtle (Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta) nesting beaches. The beaches within the SEPA support a regionally important nesting numbers of green turtles (Kasparek et al 2001), but are less important in terms of nesting numbers for loggerhead turtles. Using the number of nests laid on these beaches each summer and dividing it by a factor of three (average number of nest per female) equates to between 1-15 female loggerhead turtles 5-25 green turtles nesting annually. Globally the loggerhead turtle is categorised as endangered on the 2000 IUCN Red List (Hilton-Taylor 2000). Until recently the green turtle in the Mediterranean was considered a sub-population and was therefore classified by the IUCN as critically endangered. This however, has been re-classified to endangered, as it was felt that there was not enough evidence to support its sub-population status. As a result the green turtles found within the Mediterranean Sea are considered, for the time being as the same population as those found in the entire Atlantic Ocean. Both species are also protected under the Annex II of the Bern Convention (1979).

Also seen at this site from the Annex II list of the Habitats Directive is the Egyptian Fruit Bat (Rousettus aegiptiacus) and very rarely the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus). In addition, there are Appendix I species from the Birds Directive found within the South Karpaz SEPA. Both of Cyprus endemic birds, the Cyprus Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca) and Cyprus Warbler (Sylvia melanothorax) inhabit this SEPA and probably nest in small numbers. This is particularly the case with the Cyprus Warbler, who prefers areas of low open maquis which includes Calycotome villosa and Genista sphacelata species, in which to feed, rest and nest. Other species seen during either spring or autumn migrations are Common Crane (Grus grus) and Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus). (link to the complete list of Annex I birds)

The weather throughout the year is always above 0 °C and the lowest recorded temperature occurs during the winter months, normally in February. The average temperature is 20 °C in the region and the highest recorded temperatures are in the months of July and August, with a daily average of 29°C. During the winter months, the average dailty temperature is 12 °C. The annual rainfall  is approximately 700mm, however, it should be noted that climatic conditions will vary between years and during the months when there will be hardly any rain.

The most common activities in the South Karpaz SEPA carried out by the locals are agriculture and animal husbandry. The local residents earn an income from the olive and carob trees planted in their own fields on an annual basis. There is wheat, barley and oat planted in the fields mainly. Additional to agriculture, there are B&B type accommodations and restaurants actively servicing the tourism industry, within the Dipkarpaz village which is very close to the South Karpaz SEPA (Link to a list of restaurants and B&B accomodation premises). Some of the establishments in the village are providing services for alternative tourism activities such as nature walks, agro-tourism, scuba diving. In addition to natural attractiveness, high number of visitors comes to the region to visit the St. Andreas Monastery (Link to Photo of monastry). The stalls surrounding the Monastery are generally operated by the village women and they sell souvenirs, handicrafts as well as Lefkara lace.

In terms of cultural heritage, even though geographically, it is not within the protected area, the King’s Hill (Kral Tepesi) is an important site. This archaeological site is close to the Kaleburnu village and the team at the site has started their initial work on establishing a museum in the village center. Furthermore, based on a recent study, it is determined that there are more settlements to be found within the vicinity close to area.

The management of the SEPAs is essential for their conservation. But to be successful, in the first instance, it requires the active involvement of the people who live in and depend upon these areas. Initiation of the process of communication has been the first stakeholder seminar held at the Dipkarpaz Secondary School on February 16th, Monday, at 18:00.

Participation has shown extend of the excitement and involvement of people in conservation of their areas. Possible conservation measures has been emphasized as:

  • Management of the area for sustainable development and nature protection at the same time
  • Support for local’s  nature friendly income generators like ecotourism, agrotourism, fisheries, handicrafts, agricultural products, etc.
  • Fire prevention
  • Scientific  efforts, studies, researches to be conducted
  • Permitted development with ordinance
  • Management of grazing livestock and feral donkeys
  • Public awareness

This project was funded by the European Union under the Aid Regulation for the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community (Council Regulation (EC) No 389/2006 )

Project EuropeAid/125695/C/SER/CY/7
Implemented by consortium NIRAS - NEPCon - GOPA - Oikon