Aim of Case Study
In this case study, we will concentrate on information concerning effective administrative approaches, and co-management practices in the Buffer Zone that contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, and traditional sustainable landscapes. In the first part, the Buffer Zone is examined as a shelter of endangered flora, and fauna species, while in the second part, farming, and grazing are addressed as practices that contribute to the conservation of heritage landscapes, which are otherwise increasingly reduced in non-Buffer Zone areas due to mass tourism, and property development.
The limited human activity for forty consecutive years transformed the Buffer Zone into a sanctuary of wildlife. Less human encroachment in the area resulted in reduced habitat fragmentation, which created the necessary conditions for nature to reclaim space, and for endangered species to proliferate. These were the results of the first biodiversity survey in the Buffer Zone that was funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 2007. A network of 18 experts, and field assistants from the Greek-Cypriot, and Turkish-Cypriot communities recorded plant, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and invertebrate species to develop a species inventory (Gücel et. al 2008). Eight diverse habitat types were selected as fieldwork sites, in which researchers set traps to catch invertebrates, live traps for small mammals, and infrared cameras for photographing mammals.Not only fauna benefitted from the Buffer Zone but also endangered flora species. Some of the rare plants that found shelter, and proliferated in the Buffer Zone are the Mandragora officinarum (Gücel et. al 2008), the endemic Tulipa cypria (Cyprus tulip), and Ophrys kotschyi (Kotschyi’s orchid) (Jarraud 2008, p.9). According to the Habitats Directive, Article 6, all European Union member states should take the necessary measures in order to ensure the protection of ‘species, and habitats at a favourable conservation status’ (Kadis et. al 2010, p.115). To this end, the UNDP, and the European Commission funded another project of Greek-, and Turkish-Cypriot scientists, with the overall objective of cooperating in the conservation of endemic, rare, and threatened plants identified in the Buffer Zone.[vi] For this purpose, the experts established two Plant Micro-Reserves[vii] (PMRs) in the Buffer Zone, near Mammari, and Denia villages.[viii] The experts developed an inventory of the endemic, targeted plants, and on-site management plans of the PMRs. In addition, the ex-situ conservation of the rare plants contributed to the enrichment of the existing populations of targeted taxa. Another success story that enhances multi-perspectival sustainability is the effective co-management of farming, and grazing activities in the Buffer Zone. The farming permit allows Cypriots from both sides of the divide to cultivate their land or rent it to someone else from their community or the other community. Usually, Greek Cypriots are allowed to farm or graze southern from the UN ‘patrol line’ within the Buffer Zone, and Turkish Cypriots on the northern side of the line, but there are exceptions to this rule. In addition, UNFICYP defines their areas as ‘mix farming areas’. Specifically, in the Buffer Zone area between the villages of Lympia, Lourountzina, Potamia, and Dali, the UN has chosen to have only a scarce, and light-hand administration of the activities that take place. In fact, the locals in this area requested the UN not to enforce the ‘permit system’ in that part of the Buffer Zone, as a collaboration between Greek-Cypriots, and Turkish-Cypriots at the local level is excellent.
This case study offers to young people very important Take-Aways such as:
The Cyprus Buffer Zone provides a good – though not unproblematic – example of a socio-ecological production landscape. Whereas in both parts of divided Cyprus, unsustainable development models, and environmental exploitation have been prevalent, the Buffer Zone regime has established limitations to human, and economic activity, and to that extent, more sustainable forms of action, and biodiversity protection are more readily pursued or pursued by default. As shown above, agricultural landscapes under severe threat elsewhere due to property development thrive in the Buffer Zone. Moreover, the necessarily more limited human activities in the Buffer Zone have preserved old natural landscapes, and established new ecological safe havens, and green zones, which support more sustainable, and reflexive interactions between people, and nature.
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