Hundreds of people gathered to protest the decision set to build a mansion and 25 bungalows in the Gölcük National Park, one of the symbols of the northwestern province of Bolu on Dec. 17.
Led by the Gölcük Platform, the crowd formed a human chain, chanted around the park and made a declaration in front of the municipality building, reacting to the Bolu Municipality’s decision to take the natural park out to tender for 22 years on Dec. 19, transferring the park’s remaining operating license.
“Construction’s damage to nature is unavoidable,” said Ersan Türkoğlu, district head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), while reading the declaration on behalf of the group.
“Gölcük is not only of natural and touristic value for Bolu, but for entire Turkey,” Türkoğlu added, while the concerned group chanted “Gölcük belongs to the people!”
Upon the tender’s finalization, however, Gölcük will legally belong to a private enterprise until 2040.
“The Bolu Municipality is planning to construct 25 bungalows and a mountain mansion in Gölcük on an area covering 2,000 square meters, which they have rented from the National Parks Directorate until 2040,” Türkoğlu said in his address, explaining the reason for their gathering.
The planned mansion in Gölcük National Park will consist of 19 rooms, resembling a boutique hotel, according to information received from the Bolu Municipality.
The building will be built “suitable for nature” without any trees cut down, near an existing lakeside cafe, which would also be operated by the new enterprise after the bid, the municipality told daily Hürriyet on Dec. 12.
Haluk Pekşen, CHP deputy for the northeastern province of Trabzon, called on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stop construction plans at Gölcük National Park on Dec. 11.
“Today, members and adherents of the AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party] cannot defend what is being done at the Uzungöl, Ayder, and Çamburnu national parks. Only a month ago, the president said, ‘We have polluted Ayder, we have wrecked it.’ Dear president, if you have wrecked those areas, then stop the massacre in Bolu’s Gölcük,” Pekşen said.
“In Çamburnu National Park in Trabzon, there used to be a Scots pine forest, which is very unique and now only exists in Italy. They had opened it for construction with the legal promise that no trees would be cut down. But that’s how they wiped out the world’s most precious Scots pine forest. If they [the AKP] want to see what the result will be in Bolu’s Gölcük [national park], they should look at Çamburnu,” the CHP deputy said.
Pekşan said authorities had built a three-floor concrete building with eight rooms covered with wood on the outside in Çamburnu National Park, which has “now fully turned into a holiday resort.” However, he said, it was initially promised that only bungalows would be constructed. “The same will be done in Bolu. The Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry has opened the national park to construction,” he said.
Bolu Mayor Alaaddin Yılmaz, however, claimed no trees would be cut down for the upcoming construction in Gölcük.
“The project has been prepared after meticulous and long-lasting works. We should not ruin nature. We are sensitive regarding the issue. The locations of the bungalows have been determined one by one so no trees would be cut down. Barbecuing will not be allowed around the lake and the surrounding environment,” Yılmaz told daily Hürriyet on Dec. 11.