Cyprus IS AN island in the eastern Mediterranean separated territorially between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, an independent state formed in 1983, but only recognized by Turkey. Cyprus buffers the three continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, in the Mediterranean basin.
The island presents diverse landscapes, including two mountain ranges, the central plains of Messariois, and a differentiated coastline. The political and territorial partition of the island shapes the fragmented contemporary national environmental response to climate change and pollution.
The exodus of a large number of refugees from the north of the island, following the Turkish deployment of troops in 1974, triggered rapid development of the Greek-Cypriot region, a process notable in the construction of a vibrant tourist industry, which has evolved from attracting mass tourism to targeted flows of visitors seeking first-class amenities. This led to the construction of golf courses, swimming pools, and elite resorts, resulting in disturbed wildlife habitats and increased demands on scarce natural resources, including water. A large military environmental footprint also disturbs fragile resources.
The growth in the tourist sector and expanding material wealth has created challenges in controlling waste management, including industrial, human, and animal waste. The expansion of the Port in Limassol, and the escalation of sea freight generated by exports to other European Union members, has generated marine pollution beyond the Akrotiri Bay from ballast and foreign algae, which is degrading the wider coastal environment. Water is a key resource issue in Cyprus. Having no extensive natural reservoirs or water catchments, groundwater contamination from agriculture and surface contamination linked to industrial pollution in chemical substances and aggressive organic compound emissions, are compromising the sustainability of freshwater reserves. Lower rainfall linked to climate change is producing droughts.
The Republic of Cyprus's membership in the European Union and its need to comply with environmental legislation in air quality and emission standards is producing positive change. Various bodies, such as the Petitions Committee within the European Parliament Health, frequently debate issues related to expanding technologies (for example, mobile telecommunications masts), but progress is often uneven and contentious. In the Turkish sector, domestic water supplies are often precarious, culminating in serious supply issues that impact public health.
With border restrictions increasingly relaxed, and a willingness from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to become a member of the European Union, it is possible that coordinated policies on specific issues will stem the challenges arising from climate change. The increased tourist flow, however, to the northern part of the island, and improved living standards, will place additional demands on existing resources. For the island as a whole, there is no generic strategy that controls the management of policies on water sustain-ability, pollution arising from industry, and expanded marine pollution control.
SEE ALSO: Drought; European Union; Tourism; Turkey.
BIBLIOGRApHY. Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive (Penguin, 2006); E.J Moniz, ed., Climate Change and Energy Pathways for the Mediterranean (Springer, 2007).
Paul Sheeran University of Winchester
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