The giant ficus trees along some of central Nicosia’s busiest streets will soon be given a face-lift in a municipality effort to stamp out some of the long-term problems they have been causing.
While acknowledging the inconvenience caused by the trees, Bird Life Cyprus has expressed the hope the municipality would also be taking into consideration the needs of the birds living in the trees.
Bird Life Cyprus Campaigns Manager Martin Hellicar told The Cyprus Daily that it would not be as much from losing a potential food source that the birds may suffer, but from a lack of shelter.
“Bird Life Cyprus recognises that birds and trees can be inconvenient at times but it is a malaise of modern society that every time a small remaining element of nature becomes inconvenient that we have to manage it to the hilt,” Hellicar said.
He continued: “Birds also need space to survive and these trees have become important both for resident birds and visitors such as wagtails in the winter so any management needs to be come with sensitivity and keeping in mind not just issues of convenience but also issues of nature and its place in cities.”
The trees along Makarios Ave., Evagorou-Stasinou, Salaminos and Spyrou Christodoulou will be significantly trimmed but, according to Nicosia Municipality, will not suffer any permanent damage.
“Following the multiple problems caused by the roots of the trees, the municipality has decided to trim and tidy them up,” a municipality announcement said.
It added that “huge problems” caused by the roots included interference in the sewage network.
Nicosia Sewage Board told Phileleftheros newspaper it was willing to move the network out of the roots’ way to avoid the expensive damage the trees caused, but even a transfer of a few metres would be too costly for the sewage board to pay for itself.
“The problems were caused specifically by the ficus trees because they develop fast. While providing shade and greenery, not trimming them causes serious problems,” the statement said, adding that the trimmed trees would not produce fruit for two years and so require less nutrition and will not extend their roots as much.
“Their development will not be affected because they will recover within a few months and grow leaves. Their shorter height will also make it easier and cheaper to trim and shape them,” the municipality said, adding that pedestrians would also be protected from any potential problems caused by fallen fruit and not be subjected to the mess left by the many birds living in the trees.
A pilot effort was carried out to great success on ficus trees on part of Evagorou Ave. near Archangel Michael church in Kaimakli, the municipality said.