Reforestation project in Limassol thriving thanks to volunteers!

This month, thanks to the determination of a group of good-hearted volunteers, a previously scorched, and now reforested hillside and river bank along the upper Amathos River in Arakapas, Cyprus, was able to receive crucial irrigation as part of a reforestation project initiated in October 2022. The project, which was completed by Freshwater Life Project (charity no. 1172393) and funded by the Cyprus Environment Foundation, is part of a broader campaign by the charity to promote the health of the Amathos River, one of the only rivers in Limassol that flows all year round and which was once home to a presumed-extinct fish. The aim was to remediate the effects of the wildfires, which devasted vast areas of the Limassol-Larnaca mountains in 2021 leaving the region charred and lifeless.

Wildfire that ravaged the mountains and hillside communities in Limassol and Larnaca in 2021

The newly formed volunteer group, led by Christodoulos Parmatzias from Latsia, Nicosia, has pledged to keep up irrigation efforts by organizing watering days on pre-arranged Sundays during the summer period to allow the new trees to stand a chance of establishing themselves and becoming self-sustaining. As well as gathering support from the local council, the volunteer group is also being supported by the Limassol-based group 300K Trees Limassol, a Cypriot non-governmental organization run by its president Elina Kyriacou, that aims to plant three hundred thousand trees in the Limassol district to offset the impact of deforestation, wildfire, and climate change.

The president of the community council of Arakapas, Mr Vasos Vassiliou pledged his support by donating the use of the village fire truck during irrigation days

Nine months on from the original planting, as the hills begin to recolonize naturally with shrubs and wildflowers, the effort to restore the trees is essential for re-instilling the region’s biodiversity and improving the ecological function of the forest. Diverse forests not only provide more interesting and suitable places for both people and wildlife, they also help forests to become more naturally unlikely to succumb to fires by creating rich layers of substrate with greater moisture-retaining qualities and prevent both erosion and chemical run-off from causing further destruction in local communities.

Volunteer Tahir Khan watering one of the young tree saplings on the hillside next to the Amathos River
Volunteer Tamara planting native Nerium oleander, locally known as Αροδάφνη along the bank of the Amathos River

In order to ensure the success of the project, the volunteer group is hoping to gather more members who can donate a few hours on an occasional Sunday morning through the summer season to help keep the young trees alive and growing. If you wish to follow the group’s progress or participate in the future, follow the group on Facebook here. You can also sponsor a watering day event by donating just £100 here to help cover the costs of one trip.

Volunteers Tamara, Ioana, and Sotia with group leader Christodoulos Parmatzias and Freshwater Life Project chairman Chris Englezou at a watering day in early July.