A model project to conserve forests in Turkey

01 Mar 2009


One-third of Turkey’s surface area consists of forests. Despite this, only 6% of total forest areas are protected. Thus, there is a need to increase number and coverage of protected forest areas in Turkey. 

New Horizons - In 2008, UNDP Turkey, Ministry of Environment and Forestry and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Turkey launched the “Enhancing Forest Protected Areas’ Management in Turkey" project to conserve forests and increase protected forest areas. The project focuses on sustainable use of natural resources in protected area buffer zones and minimising threats for protected areas. Osman Öztürk is the Deputy Director General of General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks and the coordinator of the project. In his interview with New Horizons, Osman Öztürk gave information about the project:

Osman Öztürk:  One-third of Turkey’s surface area consists of forests, despite this, only 6% of total forest areas  is protected. Nature conservation efforts in Turkey need to focus especially on sustainable natural resources management and minimise threats for the protected area. Participatory management planning processes for protected areas will increase the ownership of all range of stakeholders and partners in the implementation of activities. These activities should be disseminated in the protected area system of Turkey. Our project will enable us to create an examplary system in Kastamonu-Bartın Küre Mountains National Park in the above stated subjects and this model will be disseminated to other forest hotspots in Turkey.

New Horizons: Could you please briefly tell us about “Enhancing Forest Protected Areas’ Management in Turkey" project?

“Enhancing Forest Protected Areas’ Management in Turkey" project is financed by GEF (Global Environment Facility).  It is implemented by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Enviroment and Forestry (MoEF) General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks (DKMP) and General Directorate of Forestry (OGM) and UNDP Turkey; with the support of WWF Turkey, General Directorate of Afforestation and Erosion Control (AGM), and General Directorate for Forest-Village Relations (ORKÖY).

The project aims to enhance nature conservation and sustainable natural resource management in Kastamonu-Bartın Küre Mountains National Parks and its buffer zone; create a participatory, effective and comprehensive management model; upon this experience, the proposed actions will be disseminated to other 8 forest hotspots in Turkey, which are:

  1. Amanos Mountains (Hatay)
  2. Yenice Forests (Karabük)
  3. Fırtına Valley (Rize)
  4. Karçal Mountains (Artvin)
  5. İstanbul Forests (İstanbul)
  6. İbradı - Akseki Forests (Antalya)
  7. Datça and Bozburun Peninsula (Muğla)
  8. Fethiye Baba Mountain (Muğla)


NH: What are the main features of the project?

: In general, our project: 

A. is a medium size project financed by GEF and implemented in close collaboration with WWF Turkey.

B. is the first of its kind in Turkey in sense of the planning process which includes both the protected area and its buffer zone. During the project implementation, extra effort will be given to develop alternative income generation activites for the local communities. As a result, Küre Mountains National Park will be a model site for Turkey.

NH: What is the duration of the project and what are its outcomes?

: The project started in 28 May 2008 and will be finalised in 3 years. The project aims the following main outputs:

Outcome 1. Cost-effective conservation management approaches for protected forest areas will be designed and implemented in Kastamonu-Bartın Küre Mountains National Park.

To reach this outcome, DKMP will empower the national park management system, national park management plan will be finalised and implemented in a participatory way, a sustainable tourism development plan for national park and its buffer zone will be prepared.

Outcome 2. Sustainable natural resource management approaches are enhanced in protected area buffer zones.

Sustainable management plans for the natural resources forest areas will be prepared and implemented in a participatory way. OGM will prepare and implement biodiversity integrated multi functional (sustainable) forest management plans for the forest areas in the buffer zone. AGM will prepare model programmes about erosion control and ecosystem rehabilitation.

WWF-Turkey will organise capacity development trainings for local NGOs.  Effective use of natural resources and sustainable development activities will be encouraged, and credit support will be provided by ORKÖY for forest villagers in order to realize alternative income generation activities.

Outcome 3. Lessons learned from  Küre Mountains National Park will be disseminated to the other forest hotspots in Turkey, contributing to the maturation of the Protected Areas system of Turkey.

Experience obtained from Küre Mountains National Park regarding co-management of protected area and its buffer zone, prevention of threats, new approaches in protected area planning and management will be disseminated to the above mentioned forest hotspots.

NH: Could you please inform us on your General Directorate’s efforts for the protection of Turkey’s biodiversity and nature?

: The main organization responsible for the protection of Turkey’s biodiversity and nature is General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks (DKMP). Our General Directorate protects natural values of international and national importance under the policy framework determined by international conventions, agreements and national legislations.

Turkey’s archeological, historical, cultural and natural characteristics and biodiversity-rich areas have been under protection of different organizations with different status. Currently, there are 16 different protection status in Turkey. Some of these status are determined and declared under national legislation, and some under international conventions, agreements.

Our General Directorate works in close cooperation with local governments, NGOs and universities for the planning and management of protected areas under Laws of National Parks, and Land Hunting. Within this context we work for:

  • Increasing the  number of protected areas in Turkey

  • Completing management plans of protected areas and implementing planning activities of the new areas during the protected area declaration phase.

  • Updating protected area planning guidelines in  accordance with international standards

  • Strengthening the infrastructure of on the ground management of protected areas

  • Establishing mechanisms for effective visitor management and for ensuring that local people play a key role in the processes

  • Establishing mechanisms to create alternative income generation avenues like ecotourism and support guides of local protected areas   

  • Establishing mechanisms for developing and implementing volunteer programmes in protected areas

  • Establishing and implementing monitoring systems for effective management of protected areas

  • Increasing capacities and numbers of staff at protected areas

Here is the list of protected areas under the responsibility of our General Directorate:

Protected Area Type


Related Law

National Park


Law on National Parks

Strict Nature Reserve


Law on National Parks

Nature Monument


Law on National Parks

Nature Park


Law on National Parks

Wildlife Reserve


Law on Land Hunting

Ramsar Site


Ramsar Convention/ Regulation on Wetland Protection

Biosphere Reserve


Regulation is under preparation


All regulations for land hunting are developed and implemented by our General Directorate. Through international projects, DKMP ensures effective participation of local people in protected areas and supports the creation of alternative income sources like ecotourism and local guide system in protected area. Also, we carry out research activities specific to cave ecosystems.

NH: How will the project contribute to nature conservation efforts of Turkey?

OÖ: Let me state that protected areas are very significant in the sense that by protecting the biodiversity, they conserve important ecosystems, water basins and soil. Also, many protected areas are vital for local people living in and around the protected areas and utilizing natural resources since local communities shape the landscape and are shaped by the geography. This presents an additional cultural value to the protected areas.

The project will support conservation work in Turkey by:

- Ensuring more participation in protected area planning and management

- Establishing buffer zone planning and management mechanisms

- Empowering local management of national parks

- Establishing effective visitor management mechanism

- Developing and implementing volunteer programmes for national parks

- Establishing national park management monitoring system

- Creating an infrastructure of alternative income generation activities for local people

- Developing and implementing sustainable forest management plans in consideration of biodiversity values of the region

- Disseminating experiences obtained from Küre Mountains National Park and its buffer to the other 8 forest hotspots.

NH: Could you please tell us about your collaboration with UNDP in project development and implementation phases?

The project was developed in close collaboration with UNDP and other project partners such as WWF. The project was finalized in 2007 and it was approved in 2008 by GEF Secretariat. As I mentioned before, the project is implemented by UNDP Turkey, and executed by General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, and General Directorate of Forestry. Effective and result-driven partnerships were formed already. I hope that co-working experience and culture at the end of this project will continue in other areas of collaboration as well.

NH: Is there anything else you would like to add?

OÖ: Firstly, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share our views. Turkey is rich in biodiversity values due to its location in the junction of three main continents. But, we are not much aware of this richness hence awareness raising is critical to ensure ownership at the local and decision making level. The right solutions should also be integrated into national staregic planning and budgeting to ensure sustainability in the long run. I believe that through this project, the right alternative models will be developed and implemented in other hotspots of Turkey. Naturally, close and strong collaboration among the project partners is also important to achieve the desired success. Through this interview, I would like to congratulate all the experts and responsible colleagues in our project team and wish them good luck.