Turkey Wins With Her Natural Beauty

As Interest In nature tourism grows, we held a brief interview with minister of environment and Urban planning Erdoğan Bayraktar about Turkey’s rIchness and potentIal In thIs area and ways of preservIng It.

What would you say about nature and natural beauty in Turkey?
With three different bio-climates and three bio-geographical regions, Turkey is like a small continent in terms of biological diversity. And that diversity is further enhanced by Turkey’s soil diversity and various types of wetlands such as seas, rivers and freshwater, saltwater and alkaline lakes, as well as the ecological and floristic diversity created by differences in elevation ranging from 0 to 5,000 meters. Not even the whole European continent can be said to exhibit such richness.  The diversity in climate brought about by this geographic diversity has endowed our lands with a species and genetic diversity rarely encountered in the world. While the entire European continent has a total of 2,750 endemic plant species - species that can only grow in a specific region - Turkey is one of the richest countries in the world in that sense with some 3,000 such species. Our flora is particularly rich in terms of medicinal and aromatic herbs.

What do we as individuals need to do when it comes to the environment?
Taking special care of nature and the environment, and preserving resources and using them in a balanced way will allow us to bequeath this richness to future generations. As well as planting trees and avoiding activities that damage forests, we must ensure conservation in the consumption of water and, in manufacturing especially, practice the reuse and recycling of materials when using natural resources. In addition to choosing energy-efficient products, we must educate all sectors of society in order to develop environmental awareness and appreciation of the natural environment.

Is there anything you would like to say about the importance of environmental sustainability?
Previously, environmental policies were based on short-term solutions that focused exclusively on problems of pollution and how to eliminate them. Today, however, environmental policies are regarded as an integrated whole of natural, economic, social and cultural values. For the consumption of resources without regard for how long it takes to renew them is tantamount to self-destruction by the sectors of the economy like industry and tourism that depend on natural resources. When viewed from this angle, it becomes essential that traditional models of development are abandoned in favor of developing a green economy and the green policies that support sustainable and balanced models of development.

Where does Turkey stand today in terms of ecological tourism?
Turkey today has adopted a policy aimed at expanding its tourism products. Bird and wildlife observation, nature walks, highlands and caves, botanical and agricultural areas and farmland, hunting and sport fishing, river sports like canoeing and rafting, and sports such as underwater diving, paragliding and hot air ballooning, as well as camping - in short, everything related to nature -  are the kinds of tourism widely engaged in today in Turkey by Turkish and foreign tourists alike. I firmly believe that this richness is going to make Turkey’s one of the world’s centers of nature tourism.