Guarding The Real Treasure
Yıldıray Lise is a biologist that has been working on nature conservation and sustainable nature resources for the last 20 years. He is currently the deputy director of Nature Conservation Center, the NGO which is a partner of the GEF project.
The project is under implementation in collaboration between the General Director of Forestry and UNDP Turkey. Nature Conservation Center works on the related project activities to strengthen protection of high conservation value forests in Mediterranean landscape. During this project, Mr. Lise and his team spent 10 - 15 days on field throughout monthly periods.
Nature Conservation Center has been working with General Directorate Forestry and has developed a system to integrate the biodiversity values into the forest management planning practices in Turkey since 2000. Mr. Lise highlights this long standing collaboration with the Directorate.
"We have been experiencing that sense for over 13 years; within this project we have improved our approach."
The responsibility of the Nature Conservation Center within this GEF funded project is to integrate biodiversity values into forest management plans. The project has 5 pilot sites, the integration process has been completed in 2 sites while the 3 remaining will be finalized by the end of 2017. "5 pilot sites those we are currently focusing on are Mugla - Koycegiz, Antalya - Gazipasa, Mersin - Gulnar, Adana - Pos, and Kahramanmaras - Andirin. These pilot sites represent all the Mediterranean forests in Turkey" says Mr. Lise. The recent project's initiation was in 2013 with a commencement in 2014, and has been active on ground ever since.
"We are currently at the planning stage, and one can see that the new forest management plans are more comprehensive in all senses of biodiversity values. The main threats to Mediterranean forests derive from anthropogenic wildfires, and pests with severe impacts with climate change.Therefore, the new management planning process is establishing a more integrated approach focusing not only biodiversity status but also on probable future threats to biodiversity, and this is certainly a new approach for Turkey in regards to overall forest management planning."
"We work closely with the forestry directorates on field as well as forest villagers, depending on the specifications of the field activities. While we are protecting the nature, we simultaneously offer recommendations and options for the local people to instigate sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products as well as ecotourism activities in order to benefit them as well, so they can continue their livelihoods on ground. These are the main pillars of sustainable forest management in Turkey."
"Losing these forest areas would certainly be devastating for the region, protecting them is crucial. The biggest risks we face are pests and forest fires which will have severe impacts because of climate change. But on a positive note, the level in protection has been progressing, including assistance from local bodies as well as the governments contribution efforts towards these habitats with holistic and integrated forestry activities at landscape level"