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Removing acacia to increase diversity

  • May 6, 2016
  • Robin Snape & Damla Beton

Cutting back and applying herbicide (Photo by Damla Beton)

Municipality staff planting natıve tamarisks (Photo by Damla Beton)

The canal after clearance (Photo by Damla Beton)

Area of acacia to be cleared (Photo by Olkan Ergüler)

As part of the Kukla Wetlands project, KUŞKOR personnel and volunteers have been working with Beyarmadu Municipality personnel to clear non-native Acacia saligna trees from a watercourse and surrounding salt marsh.

Acacia saligna trees were introduced to Cyprus over a century ago from Australasia in order to be used as a source of wood for burning. The trees are extremely resistant to draught grow quickly and they are, excluding native plants and destroying existing native habitats and ecosystems. This is particularly important in Cyprus, which has a very high rate of endemism among its flora. Even though the trees are no longer felled for wood  the Forestry Department continue to plant these trees and in many areas of Cyprus, vast swathes of native habitat have been smothered and destroyed by acacia.

Opposite the main sluice gate, a canal built during British colonial times has become overgrown with acacia trees. The trees are expanding into the surrounding saltmarsh habitat and damaging the brickwork of the canal. KUŞKOR aim to promote and protect this highly biodiverse saltmarsh habitat by restricting the expansion of the acacia and, if possible, removing the acacia in the long term. 

During spring, trees were cut with chainsaw and herbicide was painted to cut areas and stumps in order to kill the trees. The herbicide used has a very limited period of activity and becomes inactive when exposed to earth or air. Therefore, effects of the herbicide will have minimum effect on the surrounding wildlife. Locals were invited to help clear away wood and logs, which are valued winter fuel. Also, native tamarisk trees were planted to facilitate recolonization of native flora.

Once the canal was opened up, birds such as Wood Sandpiper and Squacco Heron were immediately seen using it. Native salt loving plants have begun to re-colonise among the acacia stumps. However, this very laborious work appears to have been only partly successful, and by autumn, shoots were beginning to emerge from stumps. Therefore, stumps will now be drilled and herbicide injected at a higher concentration.

For relevant press coverage on the project and accacia clearance please visit our press releases page.

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