The Caves of Kyrenia Mountains Project: Research, Conservation, and Education.
To promote conservation of caves in the Kyrenia Mountains.
Mr. Ömer Meraklı, Board Member.
The Cypriot NGO ‘Cave Enthusiasts’ (Mağara Meraklıları Derneği – MMD).
The Union of International Speleology, based in Slovenia.
The project is funded by the European Union under the Civil Society in Action V programme and co-financed by the USA Embassy in Nicosia.
The Kyrenia Mountains in the northern part of Cyprus are one of the seven Special Environmental Protection Areas (SEPAs) in the region. They are made of limestone and contain over 85 known caves, possibly as many as 150. Current knowledge on caves and karst systems in Cyprus is limited. Karst systems are networks of fissures, sinkholes, and other chambers carved out by the dissolution of soluble rock, typically limestone, while caves are karst systems large enough to allow human travel.
Caves act as ecological ‘islands’ and provide unique habitats for biodiversity, due to temperatures and atmospheric conditions that remain stable year-round. Some species are found only in cave environments, resulting in a high potential for undiscovered, rare, and/or endemic faunal species to be found within these systems.
Importantly, no legal protection exists for caves in the Kyrenia Mountains. The area is threatened by mining activity and by damage caused by uninformed visitors. Furthermore, no recreational or research caving community exists in Cyprus to study, inform, explore, and advocate for the protection of these systems.
This project builds on a previous bi-communal Fulbright project that resulted in an inventory of caves in the region. We aim to increase public awareness on the importance of caves in Cyprus, through various seminars, workshops, training sessions, and other outreach activities. We are currently developing an active and trained caving club in Cyprus, assisting with ongoing research, outreach, and conservation; increasing public awareness about the value and importance of caves; developing a cave management plan for caves in the Kyrenia Mountains; and generating ongoing interest in cave research in Cyprus. More information about our activities can be found under the section ‘Calendar’.