The effects of climate change on forests are perceived by the public of Cyprus, according to research conducted by the Geodesy Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering and Geoinformatics, Cyprus University of Technology in collaboration with Friends of the Earth (Cyprus).
According to the results of the research, a significant percentage of 65.6% of the participants stated that they observed moderate, large or very large degradation in coniferous forests (forests with a predominant species of pines). Specifically, the observed degradation included the presence of dead or overgrown trees, increased incidence of forest fires, reduced soil moisture (drought), desertification and difficulty in forest regeneration.
As reported in communication, the results were drawn based on specially designed questionnaires. A total of 416 questionnaires were completed by residents of Cyprus.
Survey participants were asked to classify Cypriot forests according to the extent to which they have been affected by the effects of climate change. It is noted that all forest areas in Cyprus received a significant number of votes. More specifically, the Akamas Forest ranked first and the Troodos Forest second.
The questionnaire was distributed during the period when numerous forest fires (mainly incendiary actions as indicated by the Forest Department) took place in the Akama area where drought conditions were the main factor for the easy spread of the fires and at the same time made their extinguishing more difficult. In the Troodos forest, the conservation of the Black Pine (Pinus Nigra) is under pressure due to warmer weather conditions and competition from other forest species such as the Pinus Brutia.
In addition, participants believe that coniferous species (eg pines) are more endangered than other forest species. As mentioned above, the Black Pine is under pressure and is expected to suffer due to the climate crisis, while the Rough Pine is favored and invades the area of the Black Pine.
The study further showed that working people are more likely to believe in the climate crisis and observe its negative effects on forests. In particular, a significant percentage of the unemployed were more convinced that climate change is perceived in Cyprus, but they are less aware of the importance of the climate crisis, the observation of forest degradation and do not believe that these phenomena affect us at this stage or that they will affect us. in the future to a significant degree. This suggests that people with beliefs aligned with the climate crisis tend to have increased employability.
In addition, there was a correlation between academic education and the belief that climate change is important (that is, the higher the level of education one has, the more likely one is to believe in the importance of climate change). Nevertheless, there was no obvious correlation between the observation of forest degradation and the level of academic education. Participants working in non-profit organizations (NGOs) observed the decline of coniferous forests by 71.4%, ie 33.9% more likely than the other categories.
Older participants (55+) believe that climate change has not been sufficiently perceived in Cyprus, while compared to younger participants, older people are more convinced that phenomena such as prolonged periods of high temperatures and more intense heat waves are important and affect us at this stage. In addition, the same age group observed the highest degree of forest degradation in Cyprus.
As noted, the results of this study are particularly significant, as they show that people observe the effects of climate change on forests. A large percentage (65.6%) of the Cypriot population observed degradation in the coniferous forests of Cyprus and interpreted the degradation as dead trees, reduced soil moisture and difficulty in reforestation. The Cypriots recognized the Akamas forest as the most threatened forest by climate change and said that coniferous forests are mainly affected by its effects.