Cyprus peace talks — an environmental angle

Cyprus doesn’t really feature in international news most days, but this past week was a break from the norm. It was crunch time for ongoing reunification talks as leaders of the island’s ethnic Greek and Turkish populations met in Geneva — this piece by Bloomberg news is a good take on why the world was and will be watching.

A news story I penned for the New Scientist takes an environmental angle to the story: the dilemma between wildlife protection and return to lost land that the island is likely to face if and when a peace deal goes ahead. The magazine’s environment editor Mico Tatalovic has had a keen interest in Balkan and Southern European issues for some time, and the issue was on his radar.

I think it’s unlikely that wildlife will be given priority in any solution — land and property issues are high on the political agenda. They matter deeply for many people displaced over 40 years ago, and I know this first hand. But there’s an interesting proposal on the table for creating a peace park comprising areas in that ‘no man’s land’. And in the meantime, Nicolas Jarraud — quoted in the piece as leader of a UNDP bi-communal survey — tells me that a proposal is on the table for a larger biodiversity survey in the buffer zone.