Construction begins in Gölcük National Park in Turkey’s Bolu despite protests
Aysel Alp - BOLU
The municipality of the northwestern province of Bolu has begun the construction of bungalows in the Gölcük National Park, one of the symbols of the province, which has drawn criticism from environmentalists.
The municipality’s move came after a construction tender giving Gölcük National Park’s operating license temporarily to a private firm was cancelled earlier this year on Jan. 2 amid protests.
Bolu Mayor Aladdin Yılmaz had said at the time that despite the cancellation of the tender, they had not changed their mind on the construction project, which foresees the establishment of 27 bungalows and a 19-roomed mountain mansion in the national park.
Activists have reacted against the municipality’s initiation as they have already taken the issue to the court for the construction project to be scrapped all together. Gölcük Platform, an association formed of several NGOs, has filed a lawsuit against the Gölcük Development Plant, so that the construction of the national park will be cancelled. Within the lawsuit, a commission of experts will conduct a field examination on the park on July 10.
The municipality, however, has not waited for the commission’s report and has already laid the foundation of two bungalows and marked the places of two others at the park, Gölcük Platform spokesperson Murat Ataman told daily Hürriyet.
“We, as the Gölcük Platform, have opened a lawsuit against the Directorate General of Nature Conservation and National Parks of the Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry. We have demanded the cancellation of the development plan for Gölcük National Park. Our case is currently at the commission stage by experts,” said Ataman.
“Without the issue of a decision, the municipality has started constructing the bungalows in a hurry, even though it had been said no trees would be cut down. But they have cut them down. It is not possible to carry out the construction of 27 bungalows without cutting any trees down,” he said.
Daily Hürriyet contacted Yılmaz regarding the Gölcük Platform’s claims that trees had been cut at the national park, but the mayor refused to comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry officials told daily Hürriyet the trees that had allegedly been cut for the construction of the bungalows were in fact trees that had been toppled.
“According to the plan, the forest cottages [bungalows] will be constructed without cutting down any trees. It has been determined no trees have been cut down. The trees that have allegedly been cut down are trees that have already fallen, which had been determined before,” the ministry officials said, adding that the construction of the bungalows began on June 18.