Mediterranean Lycian Way risks becoming desert due to excessive tree cutting

The spike in foreign exchange rates has averted the government from importing timber, which lead to excessive tree cuttings around the Mediterranean hiking route of Lycian Way. A petition started by locals noted that the deforestation risks numerous endemic species who would go extinct if they're natural habitats are destroyed.

Serpil Kurtay / DUVAR

Locals around Turkey's Mediterranean hiking route Lycian Way are concerned that unregulated tree cuttings in the area will turn the forest into a desert.

Locals of Antalya province's Beycik village initially took their concerns to the Turkey Foresters' Association, where they were informed that "the timber shortage caused by the increase in foreign exchange rates is being compensated at the expense of national treasures."

The excessive tree cutting is reportedly a result of the increased foreign exchange rates, as any timber shortage used to be compensated through imports.

Residents of Beycik village came together with locals from nearby Ulupınar, Çıralı and Olimpos districts and launched a petition to stop the tree cutting, titled "We are protecting the forest that houses the Likya salamander, endemic to Beydağları Mountains."

Noting that the cutting was all inclusive, meaning it didn't differentiate between younger and older trees, the petition said that this method made it impossible for the forest to rejuvenate itself, bringing about a complete desertification.

The forest is home to 865 different species of plants, 25 of which are endemic, the petition said, adding that endangered animal species were also present in the area, like wild goats, the imperial eagle and lynxes.

"Normally, forests adjacent to national parks aren't cut down," the petition said, referring to the Beydağları National Park, "because endemic species are usually present in surrounding areas, and will disappear if their natural habitats are destroyed."

As endemic species approach residential areas in an attempt to flee the tree cutting, the touristic Lycian Way is also losing its appeal and damaging Turkey's credibility internationally, the petition added.

"Locals who make a living by accommodating hikers will also lose their livelihoods," the petition noted.