Turkey acts for its forests

01 Sep 2008

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The Government of Turkey, with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF-Turkey) and the financial support of the Global Envirnoment Fund, is initiating a new project for long-term conservation of biodiversity in Turkey.

New Horizons - An inception workshop was held on 11-12 August 2008 at the Kastamonu University, in Kastamonu. The project aims to strengthen the national system of protected areas, especially the forests. Forests are among the most significant of Turkey’s ecosystems in terms of biodiversity and about 27% of Turkey’s land area is officially recognized as forest land. However the extent of forest areas in Turkey benefiting from some form of protection is less than 4% of the national forest cover and are therefore under-represented in the “Protected Areas” (PA) system.

The two-day inception workshop on “Enhancing Coverage and Management Effectiveness of the Subsystem of Forest Protected Areas in Turkey’s National System of Protected Areas” was held on 11 August 2008 at Kastamonu University in Kastamonu.

The project details were presented by each Project partner during the inception workshop and potential local support and partnerships were discussed. A project evaluation was made in which workshop participants were asked for their opinions and suggestions regarding the project. Following the workshop, a field visit to the project site was also organized for international experts and stakeholders of the project.

The workshop was attended by UNDP Resident Representative Mahmood Ayub, UNDP Regional Technical Advisor for Biodiversity Adriana Dinu, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Prof. Dr. Hasan Zuhuri Sarıkaya, Kastamonu Governor Nurullah Çakır, Deputy General Director of Forestry at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry İsmail Belen and Deputy General Director for Nature Conservation and National Parks, who is also the project coordinator, Osman Öztürk as well as other relevant government officials, local stakeholders, NGO representatives and local media.

Speaking at the inception workshop, UNDP Resident Representative Mahmood Ayub stated that nearly half of Turkey’s forests are degraded due to intensive use of resources and that inadequate protected area coverage and management approaches that are not geared to effective threat abatement constitute a barrier to enhancing the management effectiveness of the protected areas system and said “implementation of effective conservation regimes geared to threat mitigation are fundamental to securing long term protection of these areas. Thanks to the Turkish Government, Turkey provided its commitment to addressing the coverage gap. This project and similar initiatives show that we are all part of the solution. We should claim our responsibility to reduce our pressure on biodiversity loss without jeopardizing the needs of the local people living in those areas”.

According to analysis conducted – in order to determine ecological representation of protected habitats and forest areas under-represented in existing national “protected areas” system – the WWF’s Mediterranean Programme Office identified 9 “forest hot spots” in Turkey. The project will initially be implemented for the Küre Mountains National Park that falls in one of the Global 200 Ecoregions and 122 Important Plant Areas identified by WWF. The Küre Mountains National Park was chosen as a pilot area because it represents the most intact example of the deciduous and coniferous forests of North Anatolia as well as the best remaining example of the highly endangered karstic mountain areas of the “Black Sea Humid Forests”.

It is also broadly representative of different socio-economic, ecological and institutional conditions (in Turkey people living near forested areas constitute the “poorest” segment of the entire rural population), which means that the management paradigm developed here can easily be adapted for other sites once it has been tried and tested. The Küre Mountains are also already facing threats such as overgrazing, road constructions, wild plant collection, uncontrolled tourism and illegal cutting, which are also common threats for Turkey’s forests. .

In the context of the project, expected outcomes will be designing, piloting and adopting cost-effective conservation management approaches for protected forest areas, demonstrating sustainable natural resource management approaches in buffer zones of protected areas, disseminating lessons learned in which the project can then be replicated to the remaining 8 forest hot spots. The project will thus contribute to the maturation of the Protected Areas system of Turkey.

Global Environment Facility that was established in 1991, helps developing countries fund projects and programmes protecting the global environment. Since 1991, Global Environment Facility has provided $7.4 billion in grants and generated over $28 billion in co-financing from other sources to support over 1,950 projects that produce global environmental benefits in 160 developing countries and countries with economies in transition. UNDP was designated by the Global Environment Facility as one of its three implementing agencies.

For more information, please visit www.gefweb.org