There are currently four voluntary ‘Turtlewatch’ groups operating on the SBAs. Three groups in the Western Sovereign Base Area (WSBA) and one group in the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA).
Of the three WSBA groups, Episkopi patrols and monitors beaches focused around the Episkopi station area, which includes non-military and military controlled land. This group is predominantly led by British ex-pats and consists of 80-100 members with some serving military personnel assisting in their own time. In addition some beaches in the Episkopi area are monitored by Pissouri turtlewatch, and both Pissouri and Episkopi turtlewatch work together in this respect.
Akrotiri turtlewatch monitors beaches around the Akrotiri peninsular, which includes military and non-military controlled land. This group has a larger proportion of military personnel contributing and the key co-ordinators are serving. Akrotiri turtlewatch is also working with Glasgow university and up to 12 students assist with monitoring every year.
In the ESBA there is one turtlewatch group at Dhekelia that monitors the local station beaches. This is co-ordinated by serving military/civilian personnel in their spare time.
Patrols are undertaken by these groups on an almost daily basis on known or potential turtle nesting grounds between May and September to identify turtle tracks and nest sites. Once a nest is located it is protected from stray dogs and foxes by placing a metal cage and tape around the general area of the nest. Around hatching time the nest is observed from a distance and after three days following the first hatch, the nest is excavated to ensure all the hatchlings can escape to the sea.
The active members of Turtlewatch are licensed by the SBAA's Environment Department to undertake these activities following appropriate training.
Since 2007 all data relating to turtle nests, hatches and deaths etc. are collated by the Sovereign Base Area Administration (SBAA Environment Department) for use in developing SBA environmental policy and assessing the impact of foreshore activities.
The number of military personnel taking part in the Turtlewatch activities is difficult to determine accurately, given the voluntary nature of the work. But, British Forces Cyprus work closely with volunteer organisations to monitor and safeguard protected species and habitats around the Sovereign Base Areas.
As at 18 December 2008 there were 246 members of the Territorial Army deployed as a formed TA unit on Operation TOSCA, the UK contribution to UNFICYP. In the nine years previous to the current deployment, TA personnel were only sent as individual augmentees. Approximately 10 TA augmentees per year were deployed during this period.
Our assessed contributions to the UN in respect of the costs of the UNFICYP mission for 2008-09 are 2,740,207 USD (until payment is made and exchange rates are known, it is not possible to provide a sterling figure). The following table shows our assessed contributions over the previous three years:
Assessed contribution (£) 2007-08 960,793 2006-07 1,162,502 2005-06 709,830
Assessed contribution (£)
We also contribute to the mission through the provision of personnel. Since March 2005 our contribution has been steady at approximately 274; this comprises 245 Other Ranks, 16 Junior Officers (Captain and below) and 13 Senior Officers (Major and above). Our contribution includes the Chief of Staff to the mission.
The national costs in providing this contingent are defrayed by payments from the UN, which currently average around $1,000 per soldier per month.