Monday, 6 October 2008

Word of the day "caroubier" - for prodigal protection of Cyprus' forests

Sometimes travel does at least widen one's knowledege if not broaden the mind. Through the in-flight magazine I discovered that when the French Bible talks about the prodigal son being so hungry he would have eaten "les gousses de caroubier" (English Bibles talk about him thinking of eating "the pods fed to the pigs") the tree that these came from is the carob tree. And I suppose that if I hadn't ever read the Bible in French I wouldn't really have made that link.
The carob tree has been named Cyprus' tree of the year and I'm looking forwards later in the week to perhaps actually seeing one - if I get out of my interpretation booth.
However the carob tree is a traditional mediterranean tree and was important to Cyprus' economy in decades and centuries gone by - both the pods (fed to those biblical pigs) and the contents are nutritional.
Meanwhile Cyprus and its trees are suffering from terrible water shortages and the Cyprus Mail reports here -
Takis Tsentidis, Senior Official of the Forestry Department, told the Mail that “drought affects both the growth of the trees but also the success of their revival”.
As he explained, many trees have been destroyed, especially in the eastern parts of Mesaoria, the eastern part of Troodos and the forests of Machairas and Stavrovouni”.
However, the present threat to trees is not only due to the current drought, as low rainfall conditions have been commonplace in Cyprus for the past few years.
“The rainfall this year was at really low levels, but it is not only that,” Tsentidis continued, “it is also the extremely high temperatures.”
“Trees that have survived naturally for over 100 years and carob trees have dried up.

I also have my own theory that perhaps all the mass tourism, showers and swimming pools may not be helping the water shortage on this beautiful island. Hmm ...