Four-millennium-old yew in Turkey's north set for protection

Four-millennium-old yew in Turkey's north set for protection

ZONGULDAK – Anadolu Agency
Four-millennium-old yew in Turkeys north set for protection

AA photo

A 4,112-year-old yew tree that was recently discovered in the northern province of Zonguldak is set to be declared a “natural monument” and opened to tourism.

The Gümeli forests, which are often seen as the “terrace” of the coal-mining province, cover the 1,637-meter-high Bacaklı and Bölüklü highland areas. The forests are home to very old trees, including many yew trees between the ages of 300 and 500. 

The age of the yew tree, which was found in the Gümeli forests and whose samples were sent to the Karadeniz Technical University Forestry Faculty, was dated to 4,112 years – an age that predates the rise of Babylon. It is reported that the tree is one of the five oldest trees in the world.

“[The tree is] the only living thing in Anatolia since the Bronze Age,” Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu said.
The tree could live another 4,000 years if avoids damage stemming from humans.

Zonguldak Nature Conservation and National Parks Branch Director Sezgin Örmeci said a resident alerted them about the thick yew tree, prompting additional examinations. 

He said the tree was 26.5 meters in height and 2.4 meters in diameter. 

“We applied to Karadeniz Technical University academic Ercan Oktan. He came to the forest with his team and took samples. They examined it in the laboratory and found that the tree is 4,112 years old. They said it could live 4,000 more years unless it is subjected to damage.” 

Örmeci said they planned to take the area around the tree under protection.

“We need to protect this tree, which has a history equal to the history of humanity. We have initiated works. We have a tree that can be called an example of world heritage. We plan to conducts talks with academics of the Bülent Ecevit University for the determination of wildlife here. There is a great interest in the area around the tree. We will examine other monumental tree models. Five motion-triggered cameras have been placed around the tree to document the wildlife,” Örmeci said.

A great value for Gümeli

Gümeli Mayor Ahmet Saydam said the four-millennium-old tree was a great discovery for their district.

Interested visitors should first reach the Bölüklü highland’s Karatepe region, 25 kilometers from the center of the district, before ascending up a 1.5-kilometer-long hill. 

“For now, the tree can be seen after a hard travel. We expect the reorganization of the roads to the tree and opening the area to visitors. We believe that the tree will contribute to tourism, drawing local and foreign tourists to the region,” the mayor said. “As locals, we knew about the tree but did not know about its age. I went to see the tree in 2010. This tree is some 1.5 kilometers away from other monumental trees. Lots of people who want to the see the tree get in touch with our municipality. But at the moment we aren’t bringing anyone to the region.”