Citizens in Ayios Athanasios, Limassol, told the Green party that 70-80 healthy cypress trees of the genus Tetraclinis were cut down at the Sfalangiotissa cemetery on Saturday, February 15.
Further investigation by the party found that the instructions to cut the trees down were given by the Limassol Bishopric within its plan to extend the cemetery.
“Unfortunately, permission was not required by the Forestry Department as this tree type is not protected, hence is not included in the forests legislation,” the party said in an announcement today, “therefore the Bishopric was able to legally proceed to this action without consideration for the great environmental cost.”
The Green party’s Limassol District secretary Kyriacos Kourris called it an ‘oxymoron’ to strive on the one hand to increase the city’s green areas and on the other to allow anyone to cut down trees because they are not protected.
“Given its role, the church should have been more sensitive to environmental issues. Authority should be granted to municipalities or district councils as part of the local government reform underway to sufficiently protect urban green spaces, whether those involve forest trees or otherwise,” Kourris concluded.
The party also reminded that the national strategy to combat climate change approved by the Council of Ministers in 2017 has yet to be enshrined into law, which the party believes would have prevented an event like the one just witnessed in Ayios Athanasios.