Cyprus at risk of becoming a desert island
A toxic combination of decreasing rainfall, the abandonment of rural areas and an increase in water consumption over the past few decades has resulted in more than half the island of Cyprus being in immediate danger of desertification. Just 1.5 percent of the land area - the ridge of the Troodos mountain range - is not deemed to be at any such risk.
Cyprus has always been a place of limited water resources. But until the 1960s, consumption did not exceed availability. According to Cyprus's Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, which has set up national action plan to combat desertification, "since the 1960s, first with the increased pumping of groundwater, then the use of surface water stored in dams, usage has increased tremendously."
Higher living standards, tourism and a 15 percent drop in average annual rainfall since 1970 are all...