Restoration and Conservation of Amathos River
Project duration: 09/2022 – 10/2022
Freshwater habitats are under immense pressure as demand for water increases and unsustainable development continues to eradicate habitats at alarming rates. In Cyprus, since the beginning of the 20th century, over 108 dams and reservoirs have been constructed, with very few, if any, rivers left to flow naturally. Furthermore, an intensive chemical pesticide (DDT) campaign that took place across the entire island in the late 1940s in an attempt to completely eradicate Malaria, has led to the extinction of large portions of Cyprus’ freshwater aquatic life. Pressure though has been accumulating on the island’s freshwater systems by the continuous rise in coastal development and urbanisation, as well as the boom in the use of synthetic agricultural fertilizers and pesticides taking place in Cyprus in the past few decades. Further on, wildfires that spread across rural Larnaca and Limassol in the summer of 2021, have negatively impacted important riparian areas of the region through soil erosion and wildfire-associated nitrate run-off, diminishing river water quality and leading to the degradation of protected areas downstream.
The project aims to rehabilitate and restore crucial estuarine, fluvial, and riparian habitats along the Amathos River through a month-long citizen-science conservation initiative. The project is focused on maintaining the integrity, physiology, and functionality of the Amathos (Germasogeia) River, including measures to improve habitat attributes and conditions for biodiversity while providing local communities with the educational opportunities, and an understanding of the threats facing the Amathos River habitats and its biodiversity. The organization will work alongside competent authorities, local research experts and environmental groups as well as independent volunteers, to accomplish the project’s deliverables which include: citizen participation in (i) education, (ii) habitat cleaning, (iii) water quality testing and (iv) habitat restoration. The project will use an inclusive and holistic approach to empower participants with the knowledge and skills to confidently and independently collect data suitable to feed into future monitoring and conservation efforts, while also taking direct action to restore critical natural areas for local communities and biodiversity alike.
- A week-long island-wide education distribution initiative highlighting the threatened, endemic and protected freshwater biodiversity of Amathos river, the importance of their habitats, and their conservation. Throughout this week 20,000 leaflets will be distributed to authorities, environmental organizations, universities, schools, community groups, and poignant figureheads.
- Install four educational interpretation boards at strategic sites along the Amathos (Germasogeia) River.
- A week-long clean-up of the Amathos (Germasogeia) River, removing waste products and plastic from habitat in and around the river at strategic sites with the support of local NGOs, community groups, and independent volunteers.
- Conduct water testing and gather data to assess river water quality.
- A week-long habitat diversification and reforesting initiative, including the planting of over 1000 geographically appropriate, high fire-resistant, and quick resprouting trees and shrubs in the 2021 wildfire-affected area. Established vegetation will serve the purposes of wildfire mitigation, habitat restoration, and preventing soil erosion and run-off to ensure river quality along the Amathos (Germasogeia) River.
- Leaflet created during awareness week on the threatened, endemic and protected freshwater biodiversity of Amathos river, the importance of their habitats, and their conservation.
- Call for River Clean up Campaign: Friday 14/10/22 – Sunday 16/10/22
A bit about the organization
The Freshwater Life Project was created by a small team of independent researchers with the commitment to protect and preserve inland aquatic habitats all around the world. The organization’s mission is to implement tangible measures to conserve wetlands, lakes, rivers, and other inland aquatic habitats so that a healthy future for freshwater biodiversity is ensured and freshwater ecosystems are ensured to thrive well into the future. The organization’s vision is one where human development occurs sustainably having regenerative practices as a distinct priority. Freshwater Life Project’s team of experts has significant experience in effective community engagement methodology, and has access to an advisory team featuring some of the world’s leading freshwater conservation experts. The organization has an established support network in Cyprus, including independent volunteers, NGOs, community groups, and renowned figureheads with whom they collaborate to achieve their projects’ objectives.
This project has been enabled through a grant by Seacology