Küre Mountains National Park volunteers
“Being a Küre Mountains National Parks volunteer means a lot; understanding the language of nature and responding its needs, listening the problems of local people, trying to find solutions for those, and also means being friends of old people in villages.’’
New Horizons - Volunteer workshops have been organized in Bartın and Kastamonu in October 2010 in aiming to develop Volunteer Support System in Küre Mountains National Park and its buffer zone.
As a result of these workshops, WWF-Turkey, project partner of “Enhancing Forest Protected Areas System in Turkey Project”, has prepared “Küre Mountains National Park Volunteer Works Guide” and established “Küre Mountains National Park Volunteer Support System”.
Volunteers of Küre Mountains National Park have started their work, defined on volunteer basis in these workshops.
We have directly asked about volunteer work to those taking active part in volunteer support system. UNDP Turkey monthly news bulletin New Horizons has made an interview with Bartın volunteer Kübra Çetinkaya and Kastamonu volunteer Uğur Gürsoy.
New Horizons: How did the idea of being a volunteer for Küre Mountains National Park (KMNP) come up? Have you had any information about National Park and work implemented in National Parks?
Kübra Çetinkaya: As Bartın is a small city, there is few facilities and activities for students. That is why I wanted to work as a KMNP volunteer in order to more interact with people in my leisure time. We haven’t got any information about Küre Mountains National Park activities. We have been informed by the announcements in the KMNP website and other social media sources.
Uğur Gürsoy: The region where I live, is harboring the most beautiful places of Küre Mountains National Park. Volunteerism started with the idea of “taking responsibility’’ in protection and promotion of my region. As a person living interpenetrated with nature, I have followed the progress made after the gazettement of Küre Mountains National Park in 2000. The idea of being a part of PAN Parks network makes me happy. With this system Küre Mountains National Park will be the most different National Park of Turkey. This certification system will also bring more responsibilities to us.
New Horizons: What does being KMNP volunteer mean to you?
Kübra Çetinkaya: In fact it means a lot; being a Küre Mountains National Parks volunteer means a lot; understanding the language of nature and responding its needs, listening the problems of local people, trying to find solutions for those or communicate these to relevant authorities, and also means being friends of old people in villages.
Uğur Gürsoy: If we consider volunteerism as accomplishing something without remuneration, we are the individuals who are giving efforts without waiting individual profits but only to serve for the development and maintenance of KMNP. As much as the environmental consciousness of people increases, this volunteerism becomes more important. National Park needs more volunteers due to its larger size, fauna and flora values, and unique ecosystems.
New Horizons: What are the topics of volunteer activities in KMNP? What kind of benefits will there be for the national park and local people?
Kübra Çetinkaya: Our volunteer works are based on listening to problems and demands of local people, learning the food culture, local traditions, the changes from past to present, the relationship of life styles with forests and nature, and things to do during significant natural events. Our works are focused mainly on “Oral History’’. We have learned the difficulties and problems of local people and informed the authorities. We tried to overcome their feeling of solitude.
The harmony and cooperation between all the organizations implementing the project and volunteers helps us to meet with other people and enables meeting of ones who likes being volunteers. We are making brain storming on various subjects with different stakeholders and so we shape our work with better ideas.
Volunteers’ working system is implemented under defined methods for different interest topics of volunteers. We communicate through telephone, e-mail, yahoo, and facebook messages.
Uğur Gürsoy: In volunteer activities, I do guidance services for the visitors of the National Park. I organize amateur KMNP visits. We have established a NGO, and we aim to develop social projects for the National Park. I have always been telling the benefits of natural and cultural values protection to local people in this region. I do also take photographs of KMNP, by which I communicate the beauty of KMNP and my region. I believe that KMNP will gain a new dimension by being a member of PAN Parks. Our local citizens have already initiated small business as home pensions with their own resources.
“VOLUNTEERISM IS REALLY A DIFFERENT FEELING”
New Horizons: What are all those activities that you have carried out as the Küre Mountains National Park volunteer brought to you? Could you advise for those volunteer activities based on social responsibility? How these shall be promoted?
Kübra Çetinkaya: Being KMNP volunteer made me more active, increased my interaction with people. I have learned that old people living alone need talks and I can overcome this by communicating with them. I have started to listen people without any prejudice and as a result widen my vision.
Of course I recommend being a volunteer. My own experience shows that before being a volunteer, I was a very timid person; my communication with the people was limited. These volunteer activities increased my self confidence.
Little gifts (pens, notebooks etc) and volunteer certificate as a result of the works can encourage volunteers. We can also promote participation by telling how we interact with different people.
Uğur Gürsoy: Particularly KMNP volunteerism is really a different feeling. It gives me a great pleasure to serve even a little bit to the nature which is at human’s service. You meet different people and make friends under each volunteer activity. People should definitely do something for the environment they live in. People should get rid of the feeling of “I cannot do anything” and start from a point.
Volunteerism activities should be communicated more and people should be invited to attend these activities. I believe that there are significant number of people who would be interested in contributing these works, however as they are not aware of and have no information they cannot provide support.
New Horizons: What are your suggestions for more effective volunteerism in KMNP?
Kübra Çetinkaya: We need both financial and morale support to be more active. We can prioritize volunteerism by doing more and different activities. Seminars, conferences and site visits can be organized.
Uğur Gürsoy: I believe that anyone can be a volunteer in a defined subject. The ideas, opinions and assistance of people living around the project implementation areas should definitely be taken. This is important in order to take full support of the people and increase ownership for the success of the project. These projects should take more attention the media. People should not isolate themselves from the society. Each person should share his/her information and experience with others.