A new approach to forest management
Forest Management and Planning Department Head Mustafa Yurdaer from the General Directorate of Forestry which is one of the key partners in the UNDP implemented “Enhancing Forest Protected Areas Management System in Turkey” project said that Küre Mountains National Park’s management will start form its buffer zone into the national park boundaries to protect its natural and cultural assets collectively.
New Horizons - According to Yurdaer, the 6 section protocol signed between the General Directorate of Forestry and General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks in June, will facilitate the prevention of forest fires in protected areas, increase silvicultural* interventions, help develop a forest management plan and fight forest crimes. Yurdaer also underlined the importance of cooperation between the project partners and drew attention to the effects of UNDP’s cohesive role.
Interview by Pınar Yarıkkaya, Enhancing Forest Protected Areas Management System in Turkey, Communications Expert
You are also the Deputy Coordinator of “Enhancing Forest Protected Areas Management System in Turkey” project implemented in Kastamonu – Bartın Küre Mountains National Park. Can you tell us about the importance of the project?
At the General Directorate of Forestry, planning is the key to everything. Through planning, projects can be realized in a timely manner. Naturally with time, you will need to revise and develop your plans.
Our Ministry which has been preparing forest management and development plans every 10 years since 1963, works to ensure forest management. The General Directorate has left behind the prevalent forestry understanding of firewood production. We follow a strict protection strategy in the related areas.
Taking international agreements into account, I believe we can both contribute to and benefit from the Küre Mountains National Park project. In such areas, there are core zones surrounded by buffer zones. The buffer zone expands outward from the core area. In planning forest management units, we adopted a plan which moves from the outside in and aimed to protect the area’s natural and cultural assets collectively. I don’t think we have the luxury to separate the areas in terms of whether they belong to the National Parks or the General Directory of Forests. As institutions in Turkey, we have to work together. This is why we value the cooperation in managing Küre Mountains National Park from the buffer zone into the national park boundaries.
Can you explain the role of the General Directorate of Forestry in “Enhancing Forest Protected Areas Management System in Turkey” project which began in May 2008 and is scheduled to end in May 2011?
As I mentioned before, there are areas which are managed by General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks and others are managed by the General Directorate of Forestry. In fact, there are areas which are managed by several institutions. We cannot talk about successful forest management if these institutions do not work together. These areas are properties of Turkey. Therefore, as the General Directorate, we did not want to be the sole owner of these efforts. We wanted the National Parks to support them and we wanted our efforts to serve the purpose of the National Parks themselves.
At the national park buffer zone, there are 17 forest management units. Within a functioning framework, we tried to benefit the core area with these management units by developing ecological and socio-cultural plans. As a result of such efforts, the boundaries of Küre Mountains National Park and the buffer zone will become clearer.
We need to relieve the social pressure on the forest villagers in the area and meet their needs. Given the circumstances, I think that the General Directorate of Forestry will be the most successful institution in ensuring this. 50% of forest areas in Turkey are managed based on the understanding of “protection” while the remaining 50% is managed based on an economic understanding. As an institution, we implement plans which account for both of these approaches and bring together both economic and socio-cultural perspectives. Considering the natural assets in the area, we create natural living corridors within the habitats in forests.
This is the rationale behind our efforts in the Küre Mountains. Other institutions need to be clear on what they’re doing and integrate their plans into existing ones. I believe that the General Directorate of Forestry and General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks will further collaborate on forest protected areas management.
A protocol between the General Directorate of Forestry and the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks was signed in June 2010 to start forest management activities in national parks. What are your thoughts on the protocol and the fact that Küre Mountains National Park is the first national application of such an initiative?
The protocol was one of the works we placed importance on and wanted to be done for a long time. To this day, many protocols have been signed at different levels. This protocol has brought them all together and clarified what we plan to do next. The protocol is composed of 6 sections and encompasses important points on fighting forest fires in protected areas, conducting silvicultural interventions, developing a forest management plan and dealing with forest crimes. I see this as a success of the efforts towards the Küre Mountains National Park. This goes to show that if institutions which work in similar fields come together, good things can come about. Küre Mountains National Park has been chosen as the first area for which the protocol will be applied. Long term strategic plans need to be created and this is a slow process. As a prerequisite of international agreements we have signed we need to realize the scarcity of our natural assets and take urgent action to protect them. In doing so, we have to speak the same language. We need to know how forest cover in the national parks and we also need to know the carbon storage and sequestration rates.
There is also a need for silvicultural interventions. Although the core area should remain untouched, anthropogenic changes occur in areas where humans inhabit. Though this situation seems to fall outside the natural course, one must not forget the constructive nature of humans. As a result, I do not see these interventions as shortfalls. In plans we make inside the General Directorate of Forestry, we leave 5, 10 and even 30 hectares of land untouched in each forest management unit.
On the other hand, fires are a reality in Turkey. As a country, we will suffer the consequences of global warming. Therefore, we have to take measures to prevent fires and insects before we lose the natural assets we have. The protocol will also ensure that such measures are taken.
The United Nations Development Programme is one of the project partners. What do you think about your partnership with UNDP?
It’s important to work in the scope of the United Nations. UNDP is playing a uniting and cohesive role in the project. UNDP also influences decisions regarding where and how resources will be used. I think that international organizations are important in the adaptation of Turkey and in partnerships with civil society.
Are there any other messages you would like to share with regards to forest protected areas management efforts in Turkey?
As the General Directorate of Forestry, we follow international processes very closely. “Very closely” may be an over statement but we try to the best we can, given the circumstances.
Recently, we are carrying out activities in the scope of European Union projects on forest health. We measure exceeding levels of air pollution and the effects of such levels twice a year and take preventative measures accordingly. We work according to ecosystem based plans and also produce infrastructure plans. We are establishing a national forest information system for the General Directorate.
I see that all general directorates within the ministry operates well on its own dynamics. We are trying to integrate ourselves into all efforts undertaken in country. I believe that our institution is successful in doing so and has done a good job so far.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project Enhancing Forest Protected Areas System in Turkey is implemented by UNDP Turkey; and executed by Ministry of Environment and Forestry, General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, and General Directorate of Forestry under the partnership of General Directorate of Forest-Village Relations, General Directorate of Afforestation and Erosion Control, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Turkey. The project aims to create a model to enhance nature conservation and sustainable resource management in Küre Mountains National Park and its buffer zone, and disseminate this model to other 8 forest hotspots in Turkey.
Please visit www.kdmp.gov.tr for more information.
*Silvicultural: the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values of the many landowners, societies and cultures.