Lying as it does at the easternmost part of the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is at the confluence of Europe, Asia and Africa and its nature and environment are the unique outcome of this geographical accident. There is great beauty and variety to nature and wildlife in Cyprus. Over three-hundred species of bird, several of them endemic to the island, either make their home here or stop here on the way to or from their breeding grounds. Turtles, moufflon and wild donkeys, and a wide variety of marine life can be found here. The island’s flora is similarly extensive and much of it reflects the influence of man on the environment with vast groves of olive and carob, particularly in the Karpaz region and extensive citrus groves in the more well-watered west around Güzelyurt Bay.
The African influence on flora can be seen in palms and date palm which grow in the Lefke and Famagusta areas particularly. It is believed that as many as twenty flowers and orchids are endemic to North Cyprus alone including the Tulipa cypria which can be found in relative abundance in springtime and which is celebrated with the annual Tepebaşı Tulip Festival. There are also over one-hundred species of fungus to be discovered.
Any discussion of a region’s nature and environment needs to take into account the stresses and pressures that are brought to bear by human activity on that environment. North Cyprus is no different. Measures to protect the environment began in earnest in 1977 with the opening of the Karpaz National Park and five sites in North Cyprus have been added to the roster of the Natura 2000 project which is a network of nature protection areas throughout the European Union. The sites are: the Karpaz National Park and Kliedhes Islands; the Akdeniz Region; the South Karpaz Coastal Area; the Kyrenia Mountains; and the Tatlisu Coastal Area.