On April 16 a team of international PAN Parks verifiers -- Gordon Miller from the UK and Franco Mari from Italy -- supported by expert Yıldıray Lise from Turkey and the management of Küre Mountains National Park gathered in Ankara together with two observers from the staff of Kaçkar Mountains National Park, which is a potential PAN Park located in eastern Turkey, and a representative from World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Turkey.
The experts and professional park managers met representatives of local governments, several mayors of local villages and institutions involved in cooperation in the PAN Parks process and carried out an independent international PAN Parks verification between April 17-21.
Erdoğan Atmış, an associate professor from the forest policy department of Bartın University, said in a statement on behalf of the Foresters Association of Turkey this week that the expert reports came quickly after the visit.
“We had expected that the experts would have good impressions, but we did not expect the result to come that fast,” Atmış said. “It is remarkable that Küre Mountains National Park was the leader among the 41 national parks of Turkey.”
Küre Mountains National Park was qualified to be a PAN Park -- a process that started in 2006 -- as the area hosts the best intact examples of Black Sea Moist Karst Forest ecosystems. The aim of the management of the national park is to secure this biological diversity.
In order to be certified for the conservation organization, a park has to have “at least 100 square kilometers of untouched nature at its core, where flora and fauna still thrive without human interference. Wilderness areas also have to be managed in a sustainable manner when it comes to conservation, tourism and human developments.”
The PAN Parks network stretches across 10 countries from Finland to Georgia. No human exploitation, roads or construction, hunting, fishing, mining, logging, grazing or even grass cutting are allowed in the core areas in these parks.
The PAN Parks Foundation, a nongovernmental organization founded in 1997 by the WWF, oversees “The Million Project,” which has the goal of preserving 1 million hectares of European wilderness by 2015.
The foundation notes on its website that those wilderness areas “provide refuge for a diversity of species, are unique reference laboratories where the natural evolutionary process still continues, promote self-sustaining ecosystems through maintaining natural processes and biodiversity for the future and are key to minimizing the impact of climate change on our planet.”