The only surviving camping area in the Kemer county of Antalya, Kındıl Çeşme, has been allocated for the construction of a hotel, much to the anger of environmentalists.
The area used to be inside a national park but is now a construction site with work machines. No one is allowed inside. Until 2005, Beydağları, the area on which Kındıl Çeşme is located, had been protected by laws on national parks.
The Beydağları Shore National Park of Kemer lost its national park status by a Cabinet decision in 2005 and was put under control of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The area, housing 3,000 pine trees, was a safe haven for wildlife and popular among bird watchers, and would be available for tourism, which would risk damaging its natural condition.
At that time, civil society organizations stated their concerns about the area being allocated for tourism sites. Now that work for the first hotel has begun, the opposing groups started to protest the process.
Kemer Mayor Mustafa Gül, from the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, said they would not give away Kındıl, while civil society organizations are preparing for protests.
The camp site at Kındıl Çeşme, where the beach meets the pine forest, was preferred by people with middle or low incomes and was one of the few around Antalya. After the construction started, the entrance of Kındıl Çeşme at the Antalya-Kemer Highway was blocked with a wall.
Hediye Gündüz, president of Preservation of Turkey’s Nature Foundation, said Kındıl Çeşme was the only camp site where people could enjoy swimming next to pine trees. "If there is a justice system in our country, it has to act. There are no shores left for public use. Ankara should not be interfering with Antalya anymore. They have no right to destroy Antalya like this," said Gündüz.
’How dare they?’
Gündüz also said Turkish people have the right to enjoy the pine trees by the sea as much as foreign tourists. "We cannot comprehend how they dared to do this," said Gündüz, adding that environmentalists would raise their voices about it. "We will organize protests."
Tuncay Koç, president of the Environment Commission of Antalya, reminded that they had previously filed a case about Kındıl Çeşme losing its national park status and said they are filing another for the hotel construction. Koç said it is not possible to erect buildings at Kındıl Çeşme.
"They cannot build a hotel at a picnic place," he said. "We will fight against this to the end on legal means."
Nurten Baykara, Antalya representative of the Turkish Foundation for Reforestation, Protection of Natural Habitats and Combating of Soil Erosion, or TEMA, said they have been working on the matter of Kındıl Çeşme for five years and they will be involved in the case filed by the Bar Association of Antalya.
"Kındıl is an important area and should stay so," said Baykara.