Loss of biodiversity is one of the most important environmental problems today. Biodiversity mostly concentrates in specific habitats and sites that can be protected. These habitats are important parts of our ecosystems which provide us with services without which life wouldn’t be possible. The most important sites for birds worldwide have been recognized by BirdLife International as Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These sites are good for other biodiversity also. In Cyprus, there are 34 IBAs and through the IBACareCY Project BirdLife Cyprus aims to establish a network of volunteers called IBA Caretakers for Cyprus’ IBAs. This network will help protect those important sites through monitoring, taking action and raising awareness. BirdLife Cyprus aims to attract and motivate active citizens or groups with an enthusiasm in protecting nature and provide them with necessary materials, essential information and training. These volunteers will ideally live locally. BirdLife Cyprus (project leader) will work with BirdLife Iceland/Fuglavernd (project partner) to implement the project and set up a similar network in Iceland.
Summary of project results
The main objective of this project was the establishment of a network of volunteers for the 34 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The network is called ‘IBA Caretakers Network’ and is now established for the first time in Cyprus. BC managed to attract around 44 volunteers (IBA Caretakers) while many more showed interest in being involved in the near future. These volunteers were trained in order to play an active role in the protection of those 34 IBAs. (Participants lists to the Training Workshops attached). Most of the volunteers live near their assigned IBA and are committed to carry out regular visits to their sites, observe and report any changes, count and monitor the birds living there and also take immediate action to protect these areas and raise awareness about their importance. Furthermore the project aimed at raising awareness and building bilateral relationship between BirdLife Cyprus and Fuglavernd/ BirdLife in Iceland which was also achieved through visits to Iceland, Cyprus and UK. The objective of the NGO Fund for strengthening civil society and NGO capacity building as well as enhancing contribution to sustainable development in Cyprus was achieved since the network of Caretakers is made by active citizens that will act in a voluntary nature. Through the group’s training BirdLife Cyprus achieved raising capacity within the NGO sector as well as raising awareness about the need for biodiversity protection. Finally by protecting these IBAs the project also supported the sustainable development.
Summary of bilateral results
Both organisations belong to BirdLife International, an international alliance of conservation organisations with partners in more than 120 countries and territories worldwide (www.birdlife.org
). BirdLife International is united by a common strategy and vision. Through working for this project BirdLife Cyprus and BirdLife Iceland (Fuglavernd) have become much closer. Three BirdLife Cyprus staff visited Iceland in June 2014 through this project and got to see important Bird Areas in Iceland, met with Fuglavernd volunteers and staff and understood much better the issues faced by Fuglavernd and how it addresses them. Both countries have Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and take action for their protection, including through the establishment of Local Conservation Groups or IBA Caretaker networks is a common theme of the BirdLife International Strategy. BirdLife Cyprus has identified 34 IBAs, while BirdLife Iceland has identified almost 70, including marine IBAs. Fuglavernd staff and a volunteer, visited Cyprus in March 2015, in order to participate at the first Training Workshop for IBA Caretakers and gain relevant expertise. During their visit they also had the opportunity to visit a number of IBAs in Cyprus and get to know BirdLife Cyprus’ work on IBAs and management of protected areas. Finally, through working on the project, the two organisations were regularly in contact, on a weekly and sometimes on a daily basis which significantly strengthens relations.