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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

With an area of 9,251 km2, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. Its varied climate, diverse geology and insular character have resulted in a wide variety of natural, semi-natural and anthropogenic habitats. Of the 48 terrestrial habitats known to exist in Cyprus, 4 are endemic habitat types: Serpentinophilous Grasslands of Cyprus, Peat Grasslands of Troodos, Scrub Forest of Quercus Alnifolia and Cedrus Brevifolia Forests. Located near three continents, the island of Cyprus is situated on one of the major bird migration routes and is the only centre of bird endemism in Europe. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), Cyprus possesses 1,738 species of flora, 143 of which are endemic (making it the centre of the highest level of plant endemism in Europe, in terms of percentage); 385 bird species, of which 2 are endemic; 22 reptiles, including 2 endemic species; 3 amphibian species; and over 80 species of marine fish. Out of its 11 wild mammals, 6 are endemic and sub-endemic. Cyprus is also considered a European centre of insect endemism.

Ecosystem services provided by biodiversity are vital to Cyprus. With tourism being the main pillar of the economy, a loss of biodiversity could have serious repercussions on this industry. Water quality regulation is also an ever-increasing problem in Cyprus (in recent years, Cyprus has faced severe droughts and increasing desertification).

Nineteen percent of the country is included in the protected area system, but conflicting and competitive demands for space and pressure on scarce land resources are taking their toll on habitats and species.

The current trend of biodiversity is showing improvements, compared with a long period of decline during the last century.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The current main threats to Cypriot biodiversity are: a rapidly expanding construction industry, especially in regard to the tourist industry along the coast, as well as an extensive road network (highways and rural roads); rural abandonment, leading to the loss of indigenous species which are dependent on traditional agriculture but also of local varieties of crop plants; overexploitation of the scarce underground and surface water resources; climate change reflected in a reduction of 16% of average annual precipitation over the last century and an increase of 1° Celsius in average annual temperatures; forest and wild fires in general; invasive species (plant and animal); unsustainable local agricultural practices, especially in regard to irrigated crops; overgrazing, locally; overexploitation of fish stocks; and pollution of soil, air and water caused by industrial, domestic and farming activities.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Cyprus has not yet prepared a comprehensive Biodiversity Action Plan, but has related national policies, such as the Sustainable Development Strategy, Forest Policy, Agriculture Policy, Water Policy, Fisheries Policy, which help to safeguard the island’s biodiversity.

Also, implementation of EU policies relate directly to biodiversity conservation, such as the Rural Development Policy, Habitat and Birds Directive, agri-environmental commitments to Natura 2000 areas as well as environmental protection measures under Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Several national and international plans or programmes have integrated objectives related to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, such as the National Forest Programme, the Rural Development Scheme and the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. The Natura 2000 Network comprises sites of interest in regard to marine and coastal biodiversity, dry and subhumid land biodiversity, forest biodiversity and mountain biodiversity. Conservation programs exist for species (e.g. endemic grass snake, monk seal and species of marine turtle and dolphin). Other specific activities include an in situ conservation programme for local cattle and sheep species.

Other actions taken towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets include:

• LIFE projects for protected and non-protected areas (in addition, projects for conservation of species and ecosystems are currently being implemented).

• Progress has been made towards the sustainable use of water, with the Water Framework Directive being the most significant tool.

• Monitoring plans have been prepared for more than 10 plant taxa of Annex II of the Habitats Directive.

Ex situ conservation is implemented through the establishment of protected species in botanical gardens and storing of propagation material at low temperatures in seed banks at the Agricultural Research Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment (MANRE).

• 40 Sites of Community Interest have been declared under the Habitats Directive (SCIs – Natura 2000 Network) and 29 Special Protected Areas under the Birds Directive (SPAs – Natura 2000). Also, there are 10 National Parks (15627 ha), 4 Nature Reserves (4788 ha) and 350 game reserves, covering about 33% of the Government-controlled area of Cyprus.

• The Ministry of Education has elaborated a national strategy for environmental education that has received Government approval and is now being implemented.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The current trend of biodiversity is showing improvements, compared with a long period of biodiversity decline during the last century. This is largely a result of coordinated efforts taken by government departments and non-governmental organizations, and measures taken after Cyprus’s accession to the European Union, mainly regarding the establishment of the Natura 2000 network, however also related to the endorsement and enforcement of relevant legislation.

Legislation on biodiversity conservation has been significantly strengthened with the adoption of national and European legislation into a wide range of environmental issues. Other legislations in sectors, such as forest and water management, agriculture, and land use planning, as well as laws on EIA and SEA play an important role in protecting biodiversity.

Biodiversity concerns are being gradually mainstreamed into the policies and programs of various sectors and coordinated between government departments. So far, progress has been slow because of a lack of adequate capacity. However, there are some achievements to highlight (e.g. the Ministry of Education has incorporated biodiversity concepts in the curricula of all elementary schools; agriculture and livestock policies are integrating biodiversity concerns; biodiversity conservation is the principal management goal of the State forests comprising 21.5% of the area under Government control and, in this regard, the Forestry Department has implemented various programmes and actions related to protected areas, restoration of habitats and deteriorated sites, fire protection, botanical gardens, gene banks, among others).

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Cyprus has a basic system for reviewing the effectiveness of actions taken towards biodiversity conservation. As reflected in the national reports submitted by Cyprus, key indicators denoting the status as “ improving”, “little or no overall change”, “unknown or deterioration” or “insufficient data” are used to assess the impact of activities on key issues.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme