Gökova Project sets an example for Europe

Doğan News Agency 17.03.2009

MUĞLA - The environment and sustainable development project in Gökova, one of the most fascinating areas in Turkey’s Aegean region, draws the plaudits from European authorities. An EUrepresentative praises how local institutions work to preserve the Gökova Cove as it is now

The environment and sustainable development project to protect Muğla’s Gökova coastal areas is considered the best of its kind in Europe in terms of the environment, history and socioeconomics, said Professor Atilla Yücel, coordinator for the project. Yücel said the European Union SMAPP III Gökova project was announced to be an example-setting project and the most successful out of the 10 participating Mediterranean countries. "That is why we are going to print the project as a book in Turkish and English next month and sent it to Turkish and European officials," he said.

The future of the Gökova Cove, The Island of Sedir and Kadın Backwater were on the table in scope of the EU SMAPP III Gökova Project at a panel organized at Muğla University. The project’s contents such as the island of Sedir, backwaters, socio-economic research, sea pollution and wastes, agricultural works, fishing, coastal erosion, geographical information systems and education for raising awareness were discussed at the panel. Decisions were also made to buy cameras and other equipment for underwater research, the preparation of some publications and work to be done for the preservation of the sands of the island of Sedir.

Aydın Şalcı, former scholar at Istanbul Technical University and the elaborator of the backwaters part of the project, said that the boat traffic on the backwaters tributary to Gökova and the inner sea and Gulf of Akyaka negatively affects nature and the number of boats and their passengers on the backwaters must be limited. Şalcı offered that the number of travel boats on Akyaka Kadın Backwater should be limited to 14 and their length should not be more than nine meters. "We will definitely experience irreversible environmental problems if that is not done. Natural walking paths may be built alongside the backwater instead of increasing the number of the boats," Şalcı said. Şalcı also said that natural aquariums may be built at the area and the backwater may be preserved as a natural park. "We cannot allow the slaughter of nature for money anymore. The bells toll for danger," said Şalcı.

Etienne Baijot, EU representative and SMAPP III team leader, visited Gökova, the Island of Sedir, Akyaka and Köyceğiz said he was amazed by Gökova. Baijot also said that the last preparations for the project were complete and this was the best project among the others from 10 countries. "The project will cost approximately 1 million euros, with 80 percent covered by the EU and 20 percent covered by Turkey. Our aim is the popularization and actualization of such projects to solve environmental problems of Mediterranean countries." Baijot said and added that was why they are aiding such areas through EU funds. "We will finish the Gökova project first because it is the best. Besides, I am amazed by Gökova during the work done here for three years. I must settle and live here someday," Baijot said.

Pride of Europe

Professor Yücel indicated that the project aimed to preserve the Gökova Gulf environment, specifically its sea life and ecological balance. "That is why we are going to publish the project as a book in Turkish and English next month and send it to Turkish and European officials. I hope the example the project sets may be practiced for both our country and the world. SMAPP is an EU environmental project covering the 10 Mediterranean countries. The project will both provide the means for the preparations to save the future of the Gökova and set an example for similar countries of the world."
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