Oroklini Lake is one of only few natural wetlands in Cyprus. The site is located about 10km from the city of Larnaka town and south of the village of Voroklini, in the District of Larnaka.. The lake is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) (CY6000010) mainly for two nesting species the Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and the Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus (Hoplopterus) spinosus, both Birds Directive Annex I species and a Site of Community Importance (SCI) (CY6000011) for its halophytic vegetation.
Apart from these two bird species there are a further four Annex I species that breed or have bred at the site (Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus and Little Tern Sterna albifrons), whereas Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus and Common Tern Sterna hirundo have only nested in 2007. In addition to the above, there are a further 58 Annex I species that stage during migration (in spring or autumn) or overwinter at the site and 36 non-Annex I regularly occurring migratory species, especially waterbirds. A total of around 190 species have been recorded at the site. It is worth noting that the Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina nested successfully the last 5 years (2009-2013) at the site. These were the first nesting records for the species on the island ever.
The site is also an SCI under the Habitats Directive for its halophytic marsh vegetation. The site is one of only three natural wetlands in the area of Cyprus where the EU legislation(Acquis communaitaire) currently applies the others being Paralimni and Larnaca salt lakes.
The site also hosts a number of other animals some of which are listed under the Habitats Directive: Hyla savignyi, Bufo viridis, Rana ridibunda, Hemiechinus auritus dorotheae, Lepus capensis cyprius, Vulpes vulpes indutus, Crocidura russula cypria, Suncus etruscus, Tadarida teniotis, Pipistrellus kuhli, Suaeda aegyptiaca, Teucrium micropodioides, Anthemis tricolour, Hyacinthella millingenii, Onopordum cyprium, Dianthus strictus spp. Troodi, Ophisops elegans schlueteri, Lacerta laevis troodica, Laudakia stellio cypriaca, Hemidactylus turcicus, Acanthodactylus schreiberi, Malpolon monspessulanus, Vipera lebetina, Chamaeleo chamaeleon recticrista, Cyrtopodion kotschyi , Coluber jugularis , Coluber nummifer.
Oroklini Lake like all the natural wetlands in Cyprus was suffering from a lot of pressures before the implementation of the LIFE Oroklini project and urgently needed some management measures. The actions implemented as part of the LIFE project tackled the main threats to the site. The site was chosen primarily for its biodiversity importance, but also because it had not benefited from any management measures before 2012. Furthermore, the site’s small size would make it more manageable for restoration work and this was the first time that such serious interventions and restoration takes place anywhere in Cyprus.
This ground-breaking project can act as a model for the restoration of other wetlands in Cyprus. Moreover, its proximity to an rban centre such as the city of Larnaca helped in raising awareness on the importance of wetlands and birds conservation and in particular Natura 2000 sites. Finally, through the implementation of the LIFE Oroklini project the numbers of visitors on site has risen and visitors now have the opportunity to learn more about this special wetland.
Furthermore with the onset of climate change it is believed that all those marginal, small wetlands in countries such as Cyprus will be degraded, mainly due to drying out, therefore this project also tried to mitigate effects of climate change through ensuring a long-term management regime that can guarantee the existence of this important wetland. The importance of the site during migration will be especially enhanced in view of climate change scenarios and the necessity for stopover sites in south-eastern Mediterranean for spring and autumn migrants.