Notwithstanding that 40% of the Cyprus surface is covered with trees and bushes (per recent statistics) Cyprus has a long way to go in upgrading the environmental requirements. To this end, the recent announcement by the Minister of Agriculture to plant more and more trees to help towards climate change, is a decision to the right direction.
How is this implemented, however? It is a fact that people’s sensitivity is improving and we note with particular to new development projects that “private greens” are increasing according the up to recently concreting the unused surface of the ground with concrete/asphalt cover.
We have put forward 10 years ago and reported at intervals since then, that any new development should include, in the issue of the building permit etc., that tree planting is to become obligatory and not only this, tree planting should be looked after by the developer/administrative committee for a period of at least 3 years after the projects/ buildings completion (accompanied by a valid bank guarantee).
This is especially important when development takes place in wooded areas, where trees need to be cut down to accommodate the development. For this event we have suggested that at least the same number of cut down trees should be replaced and subject to availability of space +30%. Tree planting should follow the vegetation of the area where this is available. Most tree planting is done nowadays within the boundary distance with the neighbors – the 3-meter clear distance and tree planting, is to be done with mature of trees at least 2-meter trunk height (for all areas).
The question now remains who is to make sure that the planting is done, the provision of watering and the maintenance? On average it takes 2-3 years after completion of a building to secure the certificate of final approval and the deeds. So, prior to this issue, the local authority should either check if everything is in order, or provide from the applicants, or by the supervising architect that the planting requirements and the tree maintenance are adhered to. Sometimes, trees which are not chosen properly, when they grow up, destroy pavements, their brunches are protruding to the neighbors and in addition to the brunches of the neighbors trees which are not liked by all, it creates the interruption of sunlight (especially for pools), whereas other residents object to the leaf falls in their garden. Therefore, we suggest that a planting study should form part of a permit. Certain trees, such as eucalyptus, create danger because of the water seeking routes reaching the plumbing installations, others have the leaves falling to the neighbors, whereas others have other problems.
Trees require a lot of love and looking after, but then, this is an investment that adds to the environmental value and of course to the value of the project/property. Our favorite tree is pine, but it creates problems because their tar containing leaves restrict any other growth underneath. As an added choice, which we use in our projects, is Cypress trees, which have no/little brunches, they are slim and tall, reducing the side effects to others. In the past, as part of a division permit, the Planning Department required tree planting on the pavements. However, at a later stage and because the pavements were taken over by the tree trunks and brunches, they have abolished this to accommodate pedestrian traffic and including wheelchairs for invalid people, children’s prams etc. So, if you have a tree on your pavement (public) and in the event that it dies, the authorities will not replace it, but it will extend the concrete paving to the whole pavement area – sad but it is necessary when it happens (in public pavements).
Certain countries such as Greece, have very silly laws regarding the planting of trees. As such if a plot of land has some vegetation, it is classified as “forest” land, restricting any development. In the end, the result is burning of such trees/vegetation (hence the hundreds of fires that are happening in that country).
Watering of plants is always an issue bearing in mind that the water shortages and the use of the sewage water (public of private) are in great demand, as well as on site borehole water.
For private housing it is more of a must to have lemon/orange trees, as well as olive trees, which “contribute” to the house enjoyment. Tree planting is especially suitable to seaside areas, where humidity helps, whereas more exotic trees (such as cedars – most beautiful) must have a cold climate, whereas other exotic fruit trees, including papaya, avocado etc., are suitable for the purpose. Palm trees, olive, carob trees etc., in addition.
Any tree/vegetation in your home/project is reflected on the property’s sales value, so do not believe that tree planting and maintenance is wasted money. Far from it, it returns it cost in the form of added value by several times.
We have a long way to go in upgrading our environment and in this sense the Cyprus University has undertaken several tree-planting projects, ranging from olive to carob trees in a large scale, providing income for this purpose.
As a side note we wish to point out Leventis olive plantation in a barren – ex mining area at Petra, who produces olive oil claimed to “the best in the world”.