Sheep will replace goats, Scot’s pine forests in Uzundere will be protected

01 Mar 2006

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Erzurum Agricultural Volunteers Society (ETGD) and women in Uzundere, a district of Erzurum in eastern Turkey, have started working to grow seasonal flowers within the context of a project that is supported by the Small Investments Fund, established by the UNDP and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company.

New Horizons - The project via a pilot implementation will offer alternative means of living to the people of the region whose livelihood depends on goat farming and aims to diminish the pressure of goat browsing on the Scot’s pine forests in Uzundere.

In the framework of the project entitled “Diminishing goat browsing pressure on the Scot’s pine forests in Uzundere”, ETGD will train women on seasonal flower production and marketing techniques in the field and provide the sale of the produced seasonal flowers in the markets of Erzurum and neighbouring provinces. The income yielded through flower sales will be utilised in the purchase of greenhouses and seeds for the women participating in the project, and the infrastructure of a sustainable seasonal flower sales income will be established.

Uzundere district where the project will be carried is covered with Scot’s pine forests (Pinus silvestris). However, the goats that are traditionally grown in the region browse on the pine seedlings and hinder the natural rejuvenation of the forests. Consequently, the pine forests, which are the main characteristic of the biological diversity in the region, risk losing its existence within the ecosystem. Since they have not been introduced to different means of living, inhabitants of the region keep on goat farming although its meat and milk output is pretty low.

In the scope of the project, Hemsin breed of sheep, whose farming in the region has been previously tried and been successful, will replace the goats. Accordingly, 400 goats of eight volunteering households will be sold and with the money acquired through sales 200 Hemsin breed of sheep will be purchased and distributed to the target families. This will diminish the goat browsing pressure on the Scot’s pines as well as decrease the number of cattle grazing in the fields and increase the meat and milk yield.

Moreover, planned pasture grazing and pasture improvement will be gradually put to practice in the villages of Sapaca, Dikyar, Kirazli, Ulubag, Golbasi and Cevizli of Uzundere. An experiment will also be carried out in order to compare the effects of goat and sheep grazing. Hence, grazing will not be allowed in one of the three pre-determined pastures, only goats will graze in the other pasture while only Hemsin breed of sheep will be able to graze in the third field. The changes in the characteristics of the soil and vegetation in these fields will be analysed and compared.

During the talks carried out within the context of the project, the Governorship of Erzurum stated that they are evaluating the encouragement of sheep farming for the development of stockbreeding in Erzurum. The outcome of the project, which is a pilot-scale experiment, is thought to be beneficial to this extent.

The Provincial Directorate of Environment and Forestry, the Uzundere Provincial Administration, Erzurum Directorate of the Union of Agriculture Credit Cooperations, the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Uzundere Municipality support the project as they believe it is going to protect the pine forests and contribute to the strengthening of the region’s economy. Other goat farmers are believed to want to benefit from the results of the project eventually. Should they demand, similar cattle replacement could be carried out in districts such as Pazaryolu, Ispir and Yusufeli that are in the Coruh Valley and have similar climatic characteristics as Uzundere.

Women have already started working to grow seasonal flowers in the greenhouse allocated by the Uzundere Provincial Administration. Women say that Erzurum Agricultural Volunteers Association’s initiative will be economically and also socially beneficial as its financial income is favourable and spending the long and severe winter days will become enjoyable.