Feature: Protecting the Wilderness

In 1983, 150 sq km of the Karpas region, from the municipality of Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpaso) to Zafer Burnu (Cape Apostolos Andreas), was declared a national park by Turkish Cypriot authorities. Since then, however, encroaching development has continued to threaten this wilderness.

In a bid to introduce mass tourism to the Karpas region, investors have transformed Bafra, on the western edge of the peninsula, into a kind of Vegas-by-sea complete with themed luxury hotels and a high-roller casino. This rapid development has deeply concerned conservationists worried about the sustainability of the region’s greater environment, particularly its unique wildlife, plant life, undiscovered archaeological sites and rugged beaches.

Lobby groups, biologists and environmentalists have banded together to push for a commitment to adhere to stricter guidelines regarding the peninsula’s use and further development. Most pressing are concerns over the building of new roadways and hotel developments, the scope of electrification plans for remote areas of the peninsula and the ongoing problem of litter. Although declaring the area a national park in the first place was a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to protect one of the island’s last unspoiled habitats.