Organization in charge: Larnaca Municipality, Cyprus
Size: Larnaca Salt Lake is a natural area composed of four different salt lakes (3 of them are interconnected) and is located to the west of Larnaca city in Cyprus. The largest is Aliki salt lake, followed by lake Orphani, lake Soros and lake Spiro. The total surface of the lakes is 2.2 km2. It is the second largest salt lake area in Cyprus after the Limassol Salt Lake.
Installed counters: 2 Urban Posts with GSM transmission activated.
The lakes are just off the road leading to Larnaca International Airport and are one of the most distinctive landmarks of the area. It is considered one of the most important wetlands of Cyprus and it has been declared a Ramsar site, Natura 2000 site, Special Protected Area under the Barcelona Convention and an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Besides its renowned beauty, the lake is hosting 85 different species of water-birds with estimated populations between 20,000–38,000. It is one of the important migratory passages for water-birds through Cyprus. Among them are 2,000–12,000 flamingoes which usually spend the winter months feeding off populations of the brine shrimp.
The birds come mainly from North-Eastern Europe and Western Russia, leaving the frozen wetlands of their home countries for the milder winters of Cyprus, and have numbered 12,500 for 2016.
And because of them, pedestrian and bicycle counters installed saw a big increase.
Pedestrian and bicycle counters were purchased by the municipality of Larnaca in order to monitor and preserve this protected natural area on a long-term period, but they were also able to monitor the great flamingoes parade which happened on January, 10th 2016.
Average monthly pedestrian traffic showed a dramatic +162% increase between January 2015 and January 2016, a clear indication that flamingoes feeding and resting in Larnaca is a very important feature for tourists and locals to come visit salt lakes.
The very specific day of January, 10th 2016 saw a pedestrian traffic multiplied by 10 compared to the same Sunday of the previous year (total traffic of 2,000 pedestrians vs 200 in 2015).
And while those numbers are crucial to communicate on attractivity for Aliki salt lake, they are equally useful to better understand and preserve this natural area. Indeed, in light of photo competitions for best flamingo shot, people have begun to come too close to the birds, sometimes entering the Salt Lake itself disrupting and possibly frightening the birds. Pedestrian counts can then be seen as a useful tool to staff correctly and make sure mass tourism visits do not prevent flamingoes from feeding and resting in Larnaca in the future.