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Nature’s call from the BufferZone

The Cyprus Green Line. From a Vision to a Reality

The Green Line project was first presented by the author to various stakeholders in Cyprus in 2006, including the UN, UNDP, and environmental NGOs. [1] The vision was inspired by historical and contemporary precedents worldwide, as well as by existing bi-communal cooperation between the two Cypriot communities.

This project aims to engage all stakeholders and civil society in Cyprus and harness social, cultural and environmental collaborations between both sides that continue to flourish and that seek to overcome the conflict by building a sustainable future for all Cypriots. It will seek to provoke a shift from the narratives of disputed land rights and reclamations to common issues of preserving the environment and to act as a catalyst for the reintegration of the divided communities. As a backbone for the reconstruction and reconciliation process, it could become an opportunity for innovative environmental landscape and urban design and offer sites for the establishment of new organizations and institutions that will participate in overcoming the psychological rift. 

Landscaping the imagination

The Buffer Zone in Cyprus links a unique succession of landscapes and constitutes a cross-section of the many landscapes and ecologies of the island. From the deltas and sandy beaches of the east coast (Famagusta-Varosha), it connects with the rocky shores of the West coast (the Morphou Bay and Kokkina enclave), passing through wetlands, fertile plains, hills and mountains. It is traversed by many winter rivers that flow from the Troodos Mountains into the plains and it connects a patchwork of national forests parks, as well future Natura 2000 reserves.

Since July 2007, the first scientific attempt to assess the flora and fauna was undertaken in the Buffer Zone by a team of 14 scientists from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. [2] The study sites covered different habitat types, including river, coastal, farmland, wetland, and forest, and some rare, endemic and vulnerable flora and fauna species were recorded, including the Cyprus Moufflon, on the verge of extinction a decade ago, and the Mediterranean Monk Seal, one of the most highly endangered species in the world today.

Naturally, there are many barriers to such a vision being implemented, the first being the question of the land ownership and the right of return of displaced populations, which has been at the centre of the Peace talks and one of the obstacles to a viable solution. But these obstacles could be overcome with anticipatory and timely planning and with the instruments that are used to create and manage state parks or to build highways and other public infrastructure, and it will be necessary to develop specific policies to implement the Green Line project. Amongst the tools of urban and environmental planning, Eminent Domain is an instrument of expropriation that can be applied to acquire land for public works and this would require that the environmental qualities and potential of the Green Line be valued as a public good. Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) have recognized that land purchase is the only way to protect habitats from destruction in the long run, and they have started to buy unique habitats from private owners in six areas along the Green Belt. To this day, more than 10,000 people have become symbolic shareholders of the German Green Belt, having purchased around 280 hectares of the German Green Belt through Green Share Certificates.

[Yet another Year passes] Let this be the year that we begin building this vision of a reunified island along the backbone of the Green Line, and let us begin to imagine this beautiful scar as a landscape of memory for the many victims of the conflict and as a  haven for cultural and biological diversity in Cyprus.

[1] Grichting Anna and HPCR (Harvard Program for Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research). The Green Line of Cyprus: Human Development and Reconciliation through Environmental Cooperation. Project Proposal, June 2006. Presented in Cyprus June/July 2006 to UNFICYP, UNDP, Reconstruction and Resettlement Council, Academic Institutions and a number of Environmental and Citizen NGOs.

[2] Gucel Salih, Charalambidou, Iris; Gocmen Bayram; Karatas, Ahmet; Ozden, Ozge’ Soyumert, Anif; Fuller, Wayne. Monitoring Biodiversity of the Buffer Zone in Cyprus. Near East University, 2007.
Grichting, A. (2011) ‘Landscapes of the Green Line of Cyprus: Healing the Rift’, The Cyprus Dossier, Issue 00, 26-29

4 comments on “Nature’s call from the BufferZone

  1. cypruslifeinpictures
    June 16, 2012

    Reblogged this on Cyprus Life – in pictures and commented:
    Well here’s to hoping that one day Cyprus will be whole again. At least this is a start….

    • blogcyeu
      June 16, 2012

      Thanks for reblogging – a story that is fitting to your recent photo trip down the strip too. best

  2. Cyprus.Diversecity
    June 18, 2012

    Reblogged this on Cyprus.Diverse.City and commented:

    Landscaping the imagination

    The Buffer Zone in Cyprus links a unique succession of landscapes and constitutes a cross-section of the many landscapes and ecologies of the island.

  3. Androula's Kitchen
    June 18, 2012

    Reblogged this on presentpasttimes.

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This entry was posted on June 16, 2012 by in Abundance and tagged , , .

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