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Villagers prevent felling of 800-year-old oak tree

BULDAN, Denizli - Doğan News Agency | 7/14/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Villagers and environmentalists in the Aegean province of Denizli have successfully prevented the felling of an 800-year-old oak tree standing in the way of road construction by having it declared a “monumental tree.”

Villagers and environmentalists in the Aegean province of Denizli have successfully prevented the felling of an 800-year-old oak tree standing in the way of road construction by having it declared a “monumental tree.”

“The highway can pass by anywhere, but how many trees are there around that are 800 years old?” said Salih Atlamaz, head of the Buldan Association for the Protection of Wildlife and Culture, an environmental group that worked with villagers to prevent the tree from being cut down.

“If we cut down these trees, we will be denying our past. We have saved the tree through our efforts, and the real victory belongs to the villagers who protected the tree. I encourage all other citizens to take responsibility for their cultural, historical and natural assets,” he was quoted as saying by Doğan news agency, or DHA, on Wednesday.

Several years ago, the Denizli-Salihli Highway was converted into a double-lane road, but the road in Kadıköy village in the district of Buldan was never completed. Five months ago, work crews again began road construction and planned to remove the tree to complete the dual carriageway.

Villagers, however, were upset at the prospect of losing the tree and began standing guard over the 800-year-old oak. Residents and environmental groups appealed to the Buldan District Governor’s Office and other institutions, requesting that the tree be registered as a “monumental tree” – a status granted to very old trees by Turkey’s conservation authority.

The villagers’ protests drew a reaction from some circles, who said the road’s location would need to change if the tree received protection.

Nonetheless, the district governor’s office petitioned the Aydın Directorate of Cultural and Natural Heritage to have the tree examined and registered as a monumental tree.

An official commission recently extended protection status to the tree after determining that it was indeed seven to eight centuries old.

Construction on the road will be halted until a new route can be determined – likely 700 meters away from the oak tree.

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