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Cyprus heads to court for failure to protect Natura 2000 sites

Under the Habitats Directive, Cyprus has formally designated 37 sites as Special Areas of Conservation but the EC says Nicosia has yet to establish the necessary conservation measures for 28 of those sites.

Moreover, Brussels says the conservation objectives for 5 sites ‘are not adequate, meaning that the species and habitats in these sites are not properly protected’.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Cyprus in June 2021, followed by a reasoned opinion in April 2022.  ‘Despite some progress on the designation of Special Areas of Conservation, the Cypriot authorities have not fully addressed the grievances. The Commission considers that efforts by the Cypriot authorities have, to date, been insufficient and is therefore referring Cyprus to the Court of Justice of the European Union,’ the EC noted.

The Habitats Directive is a key piece of European biodiversity protection legislation. It requires the establishment of Natura 2000, an EU-wide network of protected natural areas made up of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds under the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC).

Each Member State identifies and proposes sites that are important for the conservation of species and habitats occurring naturally in their territory. The Commission subsequently adopts them as Sites of Community Importance (SCIs). Member States then have up to six years to designate them as SACs, and to introduce the necessary site-specific conservation objectives and measures to maintain or restore the species and habitats present in the sites. Protecting and restoring biodiversity in line with the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 is among the aims of the European Green Deal.

Famagusta Gazette