Planned construction in Gölcük National Park halted

Planned construction in Gölcük National Park halted

Aysel Alp – ANKARA
Planned construction in Gölcük National Park halted

A Turkish court has halted a planned construction in Gölcük National Park in the northwestern province of Bolu, forestalling the establishment of 25 bungalows and a 19-room mountain mansion.

The Bolu Administrative Court said in its ruling that the national park - one of the symbols of the province – provides a “unique” habitat for many animal species such as wolves, foxes, weasels and red deer, and the construction project would have damaged the environment.

The construction plan had drawn widespread criticism from environmental activists. Gölcük Platform, an association formed of several nongovernmental organizations, had filed a lawsuit against the construction plan, demanding that the project be scrapped. The court then granted a stay of construction for the project in December pending a ruling on the lawsuit.   

In a unanimous ruling handed down on May 8, the court emphasized the importance of the national park for many species.

“The Gölcük National Park is so beautiful that it turns to postcard scenery with the reflection of the State Guesthouse inside the park onto the lake surface. It is one of the unique recreational grounds in which people spend time after getting away from the intensity of city life and meet with nature in a peaceful way, while having a picnic or walking by the lake as a part of our culture,” the court said.

“On the other hand, it is one of the unique spots of the world for the natural vegetation and wildlife as it houses the bears that go down to the lake at night when human activities decrease, animals such as wolves, foxes, weasels, red deer, roe-deer, feral cats, martens and poppy as well as endemic living species and animals. And it is beyond any doubt that one of the factors that make this [national park] more valuable is this living variety.”

“It is, of course, important that the Gölcük National Park is protected and developed in a planned way. But when these plans are made, it is without a doubt that the decisions of plans are made considering the living variety explained above.

It is an obligation and responsibility arising from both national and international regulations as well as cultural heritage that our natural values are protected and conveyed to the future generations and [future generations] are left with a livable world,” the court also said. 

The court canceled the construction plan but turned down another request by the environmentalists to block the construction of a cable car, restaurant and mountain coaster in the park.

Gölcük Platform head Murat Ataman said that the court had “confirmed their rightfulness” and called on Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan to have the already-built bungalows in the national park demolished.

The Bolu municipality had previously started the construction of the bungalows, without waiting for the court’s final ruling regarding the case.

Gölcük Natural Park,