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Munzur treasures endangered by dam

ISTANBUL - Radikal | 2/1/2010 12:00:00 AM | Serkan Ocak

Despite the presence of flora found nowhere else on the planet, the biological treasures of the Munzur Valley are threatened by plans to construct a dam in the area.

Despite the presence of flora found nowhere else on the planet, the biological treasures of the Munzur Valley in eastern Anatolia are threatened by plans to construct a dam in the area.

Professors Mehmet Koyuncu and Neşet Arslan have been researching the plant life in the valley for two years and have identified 1,518 different types of plants in the Munzur Mountains, an area officially declared as an Important Plant Area. Over 50 of the plant varieties are endemic, meaning they do not grow anywhere else.

The mountains, which stretch along the border of the eastern provinces of Tunceli and Erzincan, have peaks ranging from 850 to 3,462 meters. Deep valleys run through the range, one of which is the 85-kilometer-long Munzur Valley, which was declared a national park in 1971.

The government, however, plans to build a series of hydroelectric plants in the valley that will eradicate the endemic flora from the area, according to Arslan.

The professor said the team’s latest project had lasted two years but the preparation of the inventory began nine years ago. “The most important place in the Munzur Mountains is the Munzur Valley. It is a place that needs protection. If the valley is flooded, the endemic types there will be eliminated,” he said, arguing that no dams from Tunceli’s western district of Ovacık to the provincial center should be built.

“The Munzur would be the most beautiful tourist area in the world if there were no terrorism problem. It is a place worth seeing in every way – the building of the dam would destroy that,” Arslan said.

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