The project’s overall aim is to support civil society in rural areas, as well as the lands devastated by wildfires in upland Larnaca and Limassol, and also in northern Cyprus.
The project objectives are to strengthen civil society representatives and informal groups in developing a holistic approach to their post-fire situation; and to convey an understanding of the role that CSOs can play in influencing local and national authorities to introduce measures for sustainable recovery that take social, economic, and environmental issues into account.
In July 2021 wildfires destroyed 55.000 sq kms in upland Larnaca and Limassol, preceded by earlier fires in the foothills of the Pendadaktylos range (which also broke out in 2022). Unless aware of the broader effects of erosion, biodiversity loss, and climate change, various speedy recovery actions may actually harm long-term prospects for residents, productive lands, and ecosystems. This project aims to provide both GC and TC communities, and CSOs, with an understanding of these impacts; to empower them by developing their capacities to engage with authorities and influence decisions; and to upscale volunteer skills to deal practically with the area in the aftermath of the fires.
Project actions involve: developing an awareness campaign in the affected areas aimed at adults, youth groups, Apodimi and schools, with the message that fires are caused by people, and it is up to all who could be affected to take timely, protective measures; creating and facilitating opportunities for locals in each community to express their views and visions, personal and collective, based on their natural, cultural and agricultural heritage; and, in accordance with their expressed preferences, to provide workshops to enhance CSO capacities. The project will focus on soil containment measures through terrace restoration and sustainable re-planting; on identification of the areas’ assets and identity, as it has emerged after the wildfires; and thus provide a basis on which overall action plans could develop in the future.
The project is led by the Laona Foundation, with 30 years’ experience in community involvement, partnered by Cyprus Environmental Initiative (CEI), a TC informal group, active in environmental/community engagement. Expertise will be passed via three cooperating CSOs: Phoenix, an action group formed after the fires; the volunteering group Plant 300k Trees in Limassol, and KEMA (Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion) established by TC foresters;
‘PyrΑnankampsi’ will deliver active local communities understanding sustainability issues, enhanced NGOs, and volunteers trained for fire-prone areas.
The PyrAnakampsi project benefits from a grant under the Active Citizens Fund Cyprus programme, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, through the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021.