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The environmental problems of the wider Lefkara region

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A map of Cyprus with an arrow indicating Lefkara
Lefkara is a village in the Larnaca region of Cyprus.  
In this particular article when we refer to the wider Lefkara region, we mean the 17 villages in the region where our students come from.  
Villages: Kofinou, Chirokitia, Tochni, Skarinou, Kato Lefkara, Pano Lefkara, Vavatsinia, Agioi Vavatsinias, Ora, Odou, Vavla, Maroni, Agios Theodoros, Melini, Psematismenos, Kato Drys, Lagia.  
Reporters: Thekla Andreou, Marina Georgiou, Maria Christophorou Γ3 (2007-2008)

The environment is dying...day by day, hour by hour.  The environment is sending out an S.O.S.
Life on our planet is continuously degrading.
We must therefore seek solutions for the environmental problems that plague us before it's too late...
We in particular must do something about the environmental problems that affect our region, the wider Lefkara region.  
As we all have a right to have quality of life, work, health, food, housing, education, we also have the right to live in a healthy environment.  
And since we are refering to human rights, preserving and saving the
environment must become part of the universal conscience.  
We have the right to preserve the environment...
But we have the obligation to save it...
Some people seem to have forgotten that nature was given to man to use wisely, and not relentlessly profit from it, since he will pass it on to the next generations.  We are totally responsible for destroying the environment.  
Lets not let the environment die along with the animals and plants that comprise it.  
We hope that this article can set a starting point to acquiring a little bit of environmental conscience...

Air quality

Air pollution has very negative effects on humans as well as the rest of the living organisms.  
Air pollution is one of the environmental problems that we face here in the wider Lefkara region.
Vasilikos cement factory causes air pollution since it produces air pollutants such as dust.  It also uses coal for energy production, something that causes additional problems, since large quantities of dust are released after it is burnt.  
People in the area, therefore, have a problem due to this factory.  
What can we do then?    
We have to somehow convince the owners to reduce the pollutant emissions from their factory and to start using alternative fuels and renewable energy sources.  

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A factory emitting air pollutants
Air pollution

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Traffic in a busy motorway
Nicosia-Limassol motorway, which is the longest and busiest motorway in Cyprus, passes through our region.  Thousands of cars travel up and down this motorway daily polluting both the air and the ground with their exhaust emissions.  
What can we do then?
Something should be done in order to reduce the numbers of private cars in the streets.  In other words public transportation, something that is a rarity in Cyprus, must be promoted.  
And at the same time "green" cars have to be imported to our country and the government must give people incentives to buy them.  

Garbage

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Trash at the side of the road from Skarinou to Lefkara. Photos by Antonia Nathanael (Γ1)
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Garbage production has increased extensively due to phenomena like population increase, our obsession with buying things and the comsumption of single-use products.  
This of course creates yet another envoronmental problem.  This might appear to be an urban problem, however it exists in our area as well.
There are people who are so inconsiderate that they tranport and dispose their garbage randomly.  The Cyprus Green Party has provided the press with evidence that illegal dumping grounds, where trash is burned, exist in Lefkara, Kofinou and Kornos (another nearby village).  This of course has major repercussions, for example public health problems (such as infectious diseases), water pollution, malodorous fumes and explosions (which are a main cause of fires).  Unfortunately we might encounter this ugly picture of haphazard dumping almost everywhere.  We might see it at the coast, in the sea, in our forests, in our rivers and even on the side of roadways.  We can actually see something like that in the road leading from Skarinou to Lefkara.  
What can we do then?
We have to find a way to reduce the amount of trash we produce, learn to reuse what can be reused and recycle what can be recycled.  The production of waste is admittedly unavoidable but we have to at least make sure that we dispose it at the designated dumping grounds.  Having a clean environment implies less waste.      

Recycling

There are no recycling bins in our area nor do collection companies come up here because the area is considered too small.
Even so, recycling is a contemporary way of exploiting materials that offers both a fincancial profit as well as an environmental one.  Many daily use objects that we consider useless, when we are done with them, can now be recycled.  
Some materials, such as metal, glass, plastic and paper can be collected and reprocessed so that new products are made.  These products then return to us for further use.
The value of recycling for the environment has been proven over time. In simple words, recycling leads to less waste, less dumping grounds, less pollution.  
It's about time recycling was established all over Cyprus.  We need to find a way to bring recycling bins to our area or at least a way to transport the materials to the recycling sites.  


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Recycling bins in an urban area in Cyprus
Drought

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Lefkara dam... at better times
Drought and the subsequent aridity are the main characteristics of our country's mediterrenean climate.  The climatic changes taking place in our planet (i.e. the greenhouse effect and global warming) will also affect our country causing even more drought and aridity and possibly leading to desertification.
The drought problem in our region is very severe and is getting even worse due to the constant water wasting on our part.
There is a water dam in Lefkara with a capacity of 13850 MCM.  According to the latest data of the Water Board only 2.5% of the dam is full right now, whereas at the same time last year (2006) it was 35.5% full...
What can we do then?
On one hand we must contribute to the reduction of pollution so that the greenhouse effect is lessened and no more drought and aridity can result.
And on the other hand we must learn to conserve the little water that is available...    
 
Forest fires

Forest fires are a major environmental problem anyway, but for our area they are an enormous concern.
First of all when there is a fire, the local flora and fauna are destroyed along with the trees.  A forest may burn down in a few minutes but it takes centuries for it to grow back....
Fire is a forest's worst enemy; it is caused by lit cigarettes, by glass, by fuming coal, by farmers burning weeds, by short circuit in wires, by burning garbage and by arson.
Our region is affected by fires every summer.  Specifically during the summer of 2007, there were fires at Lefkara-Delikipos and at Chirokitia-Kalavasos.
Every time there is a fire in our region, the already poor ground gets even more degraded.  This means that less plants will regrow and there will be more erosion in the winter.  And it goes without saying that the rare beauty of the area is lost...
What can we do then?
We need to guard the forests and abide by the law.  For example when we notice a fire starting, we have to call the fire department right away.  We also need to organize tree planting campaigns to enrich our area with more trees and to replace burned ones.      


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After the fire...
Erosion

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Erosion
Erosion is yet another one of the environmental problems that exist in our area.  It is a result of tree cutting or burning since trees tend to hold the soil together.  When it rains, there are no trees to absorb the rainwater with their roots. So the water runs with force and causes floods and rockslides.    
What can we do then?
We must protect the trees that exist and plant more trees, after each fire in our area so that the burned ones are replaced...  
Water pollution

There seems to be increased pollution in the seawater in our area as well as in our streams (we have no actual rivers in Cyprus, only streams when it rains in the winter).  Lots of our waste ends up in the sea.  As a result our beaches and life underwater are destroyed.  
The stream that runs near the village of Kofinou is polluted by the waste of the nearby slaugtherhouse.  
The inhabitants of the communities of Kofinou, Menoya, Alaminos, Anafotia and Mazotos suffer from the bad smell created by the industrial waste dumped in Pitharopotamos and from the noise from the plant.  This is due to three of the four units that work all around the clock processing and burning carcasses.  The smell causes respiratory problems to the locals but also affects the hundreds of drivers that use the Larnaca-Kofinou-Limassol motorway.  
What can we do then?
We have to persuade the government to take the matter of the slaugtherhouse waste seriously and finally do something about it.  And of course we have to learn to dispose our waste at designated areas and not just anywhere...
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One of our streams...after rainfall of course!
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The photograph is from the newspaper "Dytiki Akti", 11/2007
Where the waste from the slaughterhouse ends up...
Unrestricted development

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A sample of development
There is an increased need for housing areas due to the rapid increase in population and also due to the occupation of 36% of our country by the Turks.  
At the same time because of the sudden economic development of our country during the last few decades, the need for touristic units (e.g. hotels and restaurants) has also increased.  More and more buildings are erected with no prior consideration to the environmental consequences.  Many areas of natural beauty and wealth are destroyed due to the unlimited development that takes place, i.e. the nonstop and unplanned construction of housing and touristic units and the subsequent construction of streets.
Plants and animals that used to live in an area before it was developed, are replaced by man-made monstrosities.
Such development is encountered in our region as well.      
What can we do then?
We have to make sure that we preserve the plants as well as the rest of the millions of wonderful creatures of nature.
We have to find a way so that the development-which is of course inevitable-not be destructive for the environment, in other words it be sustainable development...    


Desertification of rural areas

Urbanization, i.e. the phenomenon of people moving from rural to urban areas, has more than just socio-economic consequences; it also causes desertification of the cultivating land and landscape degradation.  Desertion lets fertile grounds become uncultivable and reduces the amount of green plants, something, that in turn, affects regional climate.  Erosion worsens and there are more landslides.
Since we live in a rural area, we are affected by this phenomenon.  As a matter of fact, five years ago Lefkara had more than a thousand inhabitants; today it only has 935...half of which are elderly.  The situation is pretty much the same all over the mountainous region of Larnaca.  
According to Lefkara locals, the situation is expected to get even worse, if the area development plan proposed by the government is applied.  
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A deserted village
Illegal hunting

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Hunting is prohibited in this area
Unrestricted  hunting is yet another enironmental issue that we deal with in our region.  There are unscrupulous hunters who kill pointlessly; they kill protected or prohibited species.  Their actions lead to the destruction of wildlife and more specifically the invaluable endemic species of our area become endangered.
What can we do then?
We should urge hunters to protect the environment while practicing their sport.  In other words, if they are going to hunt, they should hunt the permitted prey...  
The research was based on the students' personal experiences and observations as well as on data from newspaper articles.
Third Place Award-Kofinou garbage Third Place Award-Kofinou garbage
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