Gold Mining Activities in Turkey’s Mount IDA (The Kaz Dağları) Has Sparked Environmental Protests

There has been going on worrying incidents in Mount IDA. Environmental protests have started in the region due to the gold mining incidents carrying out by the Canada-based international mining company.

The extent of deforestation in Turkey's Mount IDA
The extent of deforestation in Turkey’s Mount IDA

Mount IDA (The Kaz Mountains in Turkish) has been witnessing to the history of the all-region for the thousands of years. The Kaz Dağları is subject to ancient mythologies as land for ancients gods. It is also believed that the mountain has the home of Zeus and Cybele on the top of it. In addition to greek myths, the mountain is also very valuable for Turkish mythologies. Kaz means goose in English and goose is the animal that humps God of Skies (Göktanrı) according to the pre-Islam Turkish clans. So by the time, the meaning of the mountain which carries Zeus and the goose carries Göktanrı matches. And then, Anatolian people begin to call it as The Kaz Dağları.

"No doubt that our place is next to the trees."
“No doubt that our place is next to the trees.”

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The Location of Mount IDA

Turkey’s Mount Ida is located in the northwest of the country. It is known for its rich biodiversity. Untouched forests cover the Ida mountain. It is home to countless species of plants, birds, insects and reptiles. Some of them endemic to the region. It is one of the last remaining “green lungs” in the country. Rapidly growing population and economy damage that green lungs. What’s more, That speed of “growing” is gobbling up land and natural resources.

Large parts of the Ida mountains belong to a popular Turkish national park. However, that could soon be history. Part of the forest near the village of Kirazli is being cut down to make room for a gold mine. Canadian mining company Alamos Gold is behind the project.

Mining activities have been carrying out by the Canadian Alamos Gold company
Mining activities have been carrying out by the Canadian Alamos Gold company

Don’t Touch Turkey’s Ida Mountains

Locals are strongly opposed to the project. Ten days ago, some 300 activists set up a protest camp near the protected mine construction site.

“We have a responsibility for our country, and it will be hard to explain to coming generations what is happening here,” says one of the activists. While making those sentences, she looks over to the guarded site. She has a visibly fear, eternal sadness and anger at the largely denuded patch of forest. In the forest, only a few pine and oak tree remain. “This used to be a ‘green see’, but now they are turning it into a desert.”

Protests are also happening in Canada with many participants
Protests are also happening in Canada with many participants

An elderly man who travelled from the nearby city of Canakkale to join the protest says he has come here to “stop the carnage” — as he calls the deforestation effort. “The nature in our region is pristine, and we know that the mine will damage it,” he adds.

If these trees are cut down the habitat of all these animals will be destroyed, says another protester.

Activists’ Protest Camp in the Mount IDA Is Growing

The activists’ protest camp along the construction site is growing day by day. There is a common area, multiple food stalls and even a market where villagers sell fruit and vegetables. Every day, the activists head to the construction site, brandishing self-made placards and loudly protesting against the mining activities. The Twitter hashtag #kazdaginadokunma (“Don’t touch my Ida mountains”) has so far helped to get 10,000 people to support their cause.

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The Great Watch For Water and Conscience in The Mount IDA

As of 26 July, Great Water and Conscience Meeting started in Mount IDA with a lot of protesters. People meet every day to complete their daily walk through the mining area. Later on, they go back to their camping area. Protestor even named the village as “Village of Diren” which means “Resist Village”. It has been almost a month for the meeting and it seems the second Gezi Protests is on the air.

"Protect the Kaz Mountains for your own future."
“Protect the Kaz Mountains for your own future.”

Satellite Pictures Show The Extent of Deforestation in the Ida Mountains

Alamos Gold has apparently cut down some 200,000 trees
Alamos Gold has apparently cut down some 200,000 trees

Reports that Alamos Gold has cut down many more trees than the government permitted. This violation of the agreement has inspired more people to join the protest. At first, Turkish authorities had allowed the company to fell some 45,000 trees. But then reduced this number considerably after consulting a study published in July. However, the TEMA Foundation, the environmentalist organization, revealed with the help of satellite imagery. The satellite imagery showed that Alamos Gold has apparently cut down some 200,000 trees, despite these parameters. The fact that official government figures are far lower has only further outraged people in the area. Activists have a motto which is “There is freedom wherever you are.”

Protestors in the Mount Ida say that the dead can't wear gold.
Protestors in the Mount Ida say that the dead can’t wear gold.

Long-term Fight Looms

Activists fear the mine will have a devastating impact on the environment. Moreover, mine is going to contaminate the local freshwater supply and all biodiversity. The mine is located just 14 kilometres (nine miles) from Atikhisar reservoir. Atikhisar reservoir, by the way, is the region’s biggest freshwater source. Pinar Bilir, the head of Canakkale’s environmental agency, warned the government and citizens. She pointed out if the company uses cyanide to mine gold, the toxic chemical could end up polluting nearby rivers, the water reservoir and groundwater. The deputy mayor of Canakkale, Rebiye Unuvar, has joined the protesters for this very reason, too.

“We have made numerous attempts to get a court to stop the project but are still waiting for a verdict,” he says.

The Alamos Gold mine is not the first project of this kind in the Ida mountains. Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has reportedly issued hundreds of licenses to companies looking to extract natural resources in the area. For environmental activists in Turkey, the fight is very far from over.


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