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DESTRUCTION and RESCUE 
“Gebekum” – six million old
Fossil Dunes

“Gebekum ( Pregnant Sand), or “Göbelkum” (Sand with Small Hills), are the names by which the villagers have, for many decades, known the two kilometer long and up to 500 meter wide dune landscape on the Turkish coast, ten kilometers east of Datça. These dunes, according to research carried out by ecologists and geologists, as well as the forestery and soil scientist Prof. M. Doğan Kantarcı, are six million years old. They have provided shelter for all lifeforms of that time until today, in the form of fossil deposits and thereby show us evidence of the geo-tectonic past of the Mediterrean Sea. At the same time they offer an ecological system in which 19 species of birds and more than 100 plant species live (5 of which are unique to this area), protected by sedimentary rocks which form a wall to stop the sea from reaching the dunes (the formation of the sedimentary rocks was made possible due to the lowering of the sea level and drying out of the deposited material.) This unique biosphere was proclaimed to be a “Specially Protected Area” by the Turkish government in 1990 after Prof. Kantarcı’s own, and other scientists’ publications were presented in one report.

However, this declaration of protection from Ankara remained only words on paper. Building constructers continued to destroy the eco-system and dunes with bulldozers in order to obtain sand without paying and to dump their building rubble until this situation changed early in 2004. The owners of a Surf Club and two Holiday Resorts had also bulldozed away the sedimentary rocks protecting the dunes in order to make a “nice beach” for their guests which caused further harm. Both forms of destruction were effectively stopped when a fence financed by donations from Liechtenstein, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy and Germany was erected early in 2004. This was made possible after the local, state and national authorities were finally convinced by the arguements and requests of the Society for Environment and Tourism – Datça (DAÇEV). An extensive clean up of construction rubble and tourist rubbish was carried out by the soldiers stationed in Datça upon the request of the Society.

“Phase II” of the planned protection measures, the planting of approximately 1300 trees and bushes of different types inside the fence will follow by February 2005. This 15 meter wide band of trees will act as a windbreak to help restore the impaired balance to the sensitive dune and ecosystems and at the same time restore the damaged areas of the dunes. The existing native trees will be planted throughout the area according to a plan devised by Prof. Kantarcı and all the thick bushes will be thinned out to allow small animals to pass through. Later, after all roadworks on the Datça – Marmaris road have been completed, a further band of protecting trees and bushes will be planted outside the fence.

“Phase III” will see the establishment of drinking troughs for the animals, of restricted guided tours, of orientation signs, of education and learning areas. In addition to this events will be organized in schools and the countryside so that the younger generations can be entrusted with this unique natural wonder in the future and learn about the history of the Mediterranean Sea since the Pliocene epoch of the Tertiary Period.
For this reason “Daçev” needs your donations (see “DAÇEV”)

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