What do invasive alien marine species, near extinct vultures and the recently fire-affected areas of Cyprus have in common? Amongst many others, all of the above are some of Cyprus’ current environmental challenges. At the same time, they have inspired some of the Cyprus Environment Foundation’s most efficient locally supported nature conservation projects.
Cyprus has been known to host unique species found only on the island and nowhere else in the world. Till this day, the island is one of the most important bird migration corridors between Europe and Africa hosting special species and habitats which naturally lead to almost 30 percent of Cyprus’ total surface to be designated as Natura 2000 network areas.
Many are the factors though threatening the island’s precious habitats and ecosystems, among them climate change, unstainable natural resources exploitation, inefficient waste management and change in land use and intensive agriculture.
The CEF was established in Fall 2021 as a charity branch of the Conservation Collective, a global network of locally focused foundations founded by philanthropist Ben Goldsmith. CEF’s aim has been to protect and conserve the natural beauty, the biodiversity and natural ecosystems of the island of Cyprus. The idea of the CEF is to raise funds from individuals and corporates that have strong connections to the island and distribute funding in the form of grants, supporting the most urgent and impactful conservation projects run by local environmental grassroot initiatives.
Within its first year of operation, CEF distributed more than a €100,000 in the form of grants and supported 15 different projects. For example, in a collaboration with Laona Foundation, more than 120 meters of degraded drywall terraces were restored and more than 300 native trees were planted at the restored terraces in the recently fire-affected areas near Eptagonia. In another project with Marine Environmental and Research Lab (MER) 27 chefs were trained in the handling and cooking of non-indigenous fish removing over 70 lionfish from the seas of Cyprus for the purposes of its events and trainings. Reduction of single-use plastic is at the heart of the “Plastic Free Beach” project where CEF worked alongside the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative to help establish the concept in Cyprus which aims to provide free cool filtered water to its visitors and reduce plastic on the island’s beaches.
The CEF is led by a Steering Committee chaired by Peter Droussiotis, former President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, who has also chaired the UK Cyprus Enterprise Council (UKCEC) since 2013 and the day to day operations of the foundation are managed by Executive Director, Sofia Matsi. An Advisory Council consisting of specialists and scientists with expertise under CEF’s all four areas of interest, provide the foundation with guidance as to the best and most impactful projects to support through grants.
One of CEF’s principal missions is to distribute its message across the communities of Cyprus both residing on the island as well as across the world. Since its establishment, the UKCEC has embraced CEF’s mission and supported the organization through funding, networking and event planning as for example in May 2022, when CEF was hosted to present its work to UKCEC’s local network at the Cyprus High Commission in the UK.
The CEF is always looking to grow its group of supporters as the need for grants to regenerate nature on the ground, greatly outweighs the available funding. If you feel inspired by CEF’s mission and want to become part of a positive change in Cyprus, contact us and let’s work together in the conservation and restoration our island’s most precious asset: It’s natural environment.
1. “Regreening Cyprus in the Fire-Affected Areas” project in collaboration with Laona Foundation – Eptagonia, October 2022. Source: Cyprus Environment Foundation
2. Event with the UK Cyprus Enterprise Council (UKCEC) and the Cyprus High Commission in the UK – London, May 2022. Source: UKCEC
3. “Plastic Free Project” with the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) – Cyprus, 2022-2023. Source: CSTI