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Turtle nests around the British Armed Forces bases in Cyprus are thriving thanks to conservation efforts by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and civilian volunteers.

The MoD said a total of 172 green and loggerhead turtle nests were identified in 2022 within the Western and Eastern Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) and at Akrotiri, Episkopi and Dhekelia, home to the British Armed Forces supporting operations in the region.

The conservation work is carried out by volunteers made up of military and civilian personnel, who supervise all the nesting beaches.

In addition to reporting turtle tracks, they also report illegal and damaging activities, which can include overnight camping and fires being lit at late-night beach parties.

The Sovereign Base Areas Administration (SBAA) Environment Department co-ordinates the turtle conservation work and cooperates with volunteers and the SBA Police.

SBAA environmental officer Alexia Perdiou said: “We are delighted with the increasing numbers of turtle nests on beaches in the Bases in recent years, which is down to the vital work we do alongside our legion of military and civilian volunteers – patrolling beaches and searching for turtle tracks in the early hours of the morning every day throughout the summer months.

“Being careful to not directly interact with any turtles or hatchlings, we ensure that nesting sites are protected from both human activity and invasive predators, which alongside wider conservation efforts being done throughout Cyprus will ensure these incredible animals continue to thrive.”

The SBAA is also supported by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which provides Stewardship Funding for conservation work to safeguard nesting beaches to meet common objectives and statutory obligations for protecting designated sites and habitats.

The DIO technical services environmental adviser in Cyprus, David Reynolds, said he was “really delighted” with the upturn in breeding success, adding: “It’s the result of a unique and strong partnership spanning many years of hard work and now we can really start to see the results of our work.”

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