Field visit to Kormakitis / Koruçam: Saving the Carob trees
Kormakitis / Koruçam is a small village on the west coast of Cyprus, known for its untouched natural beaches, open fields and breath-taking landscape views. The village is famous for its countless old-growth carob and olives trees. Historically and culturally, the carob was an important income source for the residence of the village. Today, Carob trees of Kormakitis / Koruçam, are threaten by the presence of rats, illegal logging, wildfires and rural depopulation.
Aim of this field visit was to make an autopsy of the area, talk with the locals and gather all information needed to construct an action plan. The participants were guided through the village and surrounding area to witness the extent of this problem of the dying carob trees firsthand. As evident, most of these trees have not been taken care of for decades, which has resulted in overgrowth, developing thick, unproductive branches and suffer severe damage by the increased rat population. In result, the locals are forced to use rat poison to protect their estate, overlooking the cost that this practice has on the diversity loss in the area.
The proposal therefore is to organize a community tree pruning event during which the members of the Technical Committee on Environment will invite technical experts as well as young people, volunteers, villagers and civil society representatives to participate in the following actions:
- Pruning and trimming all these old-growth trees by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, to increase fruitfulness and encourages new, fuller growth. This can also help in stopping the brunches of resting on the ground and prevent the rats from climbing on the tree trunks.
- The cut brunches can be then turned into a bee hotel, so that the honeybees can contribute to the carob pollination. They can also be chipped in smaller pieces and be reused in the area as mulch on top the of the soil, or 'bug hotel'/'insect hotel' to promote and encourage biodiversity.
- Use environmentally friendly techniques to control the rat population by installing of barn owl nests. While, rats continue to strip the trees of their bark, slowly killing the trees, the poison creates more problems than it cures.
- Covering the tree trunk with metallic ring to prevent rats from climbing on the tree trunks.
By pruning these trees, we aim to maintain them, so that they will regenerate and produce more fruits in the coming years. The fauna thriving in the area can also benefit, as it will provide food source for the biodiversity. The installation of barn owl nests and metallic rings on the trees can also help to the natural control of rat population. Furthermore, the rejuvenation of the trees can help to the decrease of the CO2 emissions.
While other changes that we must make in our lives to reduce global CO2 emissions do not lie in our hands, rejuvenation of these trees which can help to the reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions rests on our own capacity.