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x0x In the shade of the Great Cedar and Stinking Juniper

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  • Turkish Radio Hour
    [ See the following for photographs: http://groups.msn.com/MustafaYenice/vikingserenade.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=152
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2003
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      [ See the following for photographs:
      http://groups.msn.com/MustafaYenice/vikingserenade.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=152
      http://groups.msn.com/MustafaYenice/vikingserenade.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=153 ]


      x0x In the shade of the Great Cedar and Stinking Juniper

      By Ali ihsan Gokcen

      We were in the BeydaGlarI mountains in the Western Toros range, home
      to the largest forest of Toros cedars in the world. Above our heads
      was an evergreen roof of needle-leafed branches, so thickly woven that
      the sunlight could not filter through. Accompanied by our guide, the
      Camkuyu forest warden, we were walking along an earth road stretching
      for kilometres deep into the forest. We were bubbling with excitement,
      because at any moment we might come across the monumental Toros cedar
      (Cedrus libani). To our inexperienced eyes each one of the centuries
      old cedars with their thick trunks which surrounded us seem to deserve
      the epithet of monumental, but when we finally caught sight of a tree
      very different from the others we stopped in astonishment. Named the
      Great Cedar, this tree is 1050 years old and its trunk is 2.5 metres
      in diameter. Although its Latin name means cedar of Lebanon, modern
      botanists believe the tree to be a native of Anatolia. Only small
      clumps of the tree now exist in Lebanon, and the last forests of this
      imposing giant survive in the Toros Mountains.

      Cedar timber was so sought after by the civilisations of the
      Mediterranean for thousands of years, that the once vast forests of
      the tree have disappeared. The timber is not only strong and resistant
      to damp, but has a scent pleasant to human beings but repellent to
      insect pests. An aromatic volatile oil can be extracted from the wood.

      Camkuyu is the paradise of the Toros cedar, and here the protected
      Cedar Research Forest is situated in the district of ElmalI west of
      Antalya. Of the many ancient trees in the forest, the 1050 year old
      Great Cedar and a 800 year old stinking juniper (Juniperus
      foetidissima) are the oldest. The area also abounds in other plant and
      animal species. Just west of Camkuyu is another nature reserve,
      CIGlIkara, where there are nearly four hundred plant species, many of
      them unique to this region, and numerous large mammals, including
      bears, lynxes, hyenas, jackals and badgers.

      From the ElmalI plateau it is an ascent of several hundred metres to
      the Cedar Research Forest entrance, from which there is a spectacular
      view over Lake Avlan. If you come in April, May or June, you will be
      bewitched by the colourful wildflowers and butterflies in the forest
      glade known as SarnIc Alan. This area, where there is a well, is a
      walk of several kilometres from the forest entrance, from which there
      is a spectacular view over Lake Avlan. If you come in April, May or
      June, you will be bewitched by the colourful wildflowers and
      butterflies in the forest glade known as SarnIc Alan. This area, where
      there is a well, is a walk of several kilometres from the forest
      entrance. From here you can continue on to Camkuyu by taking the track
      to the southeast through cedar woods. On the way you can make a detour
      via a narrow path to Burcak Alan, another forest glade the size of
      several football fields. This bowl of emerald green grass encircled by
      cedar trees, with a border of purple vetch around the periphery and
      singing birds, is a hidden arcadia.

      From here, if you turn left from the path to the high pasture of
      Ala$ar, you reach the spot where the Great Cedar grows. The largest
      unwooded area in the region is Camkuyu, which like the Cedar Research
      Forest is also under conservation due to its biological diversity.

      Picnicking is allowed only at weekends in specially denoted areas,
      otherwise entering the area requires special permission, obtainable
      from the Western Mediterranean Forestry Research Department in
      Antalya. Without this permit it is forbidden to stay overnight in the
      reserve.The heights around Camkuyu are entirely covered by cedars.

      Here there is a house for the forest warden and a guesthouse. This
      area of grassy open meadowland is the best place to camp, since there
      are four wells providing potable water through the arid summer months.

      In May vetch blooms beneath the cedars.

      The road leading north from Camkuyu to Karakuyu rises to the tree line
      at 1900 metres. Here you emerge from the forest onto a mountain
      plateau, to be confronted in amazement by a changed landscape and
      vegetation. The sea of trees makes way suddenly for alpine plants, and
      the highest peak in the Western Toros, the 3070 metre high KIzlar
      Sivrisi, rises before you in all its splendour. The road across the
      northwest part of the plateau, with its high pastures where local
      villagers have grazed their flocks for centuries, takes you to Huseyin
      Kuyusu.

      The recurrence of the word kuyu, meaning well, in so many of the place
      names here, is a result of the limestone structure of the Toros range.

      Although the winters are severe at this height, the winter rains and
      snowmelt quickly drain through the rock, leaving the highlands
      waterless in summer.

      In the absence of any surface streams or pools, large wells are the
      only source of water on the high pastures throughout the hot season.

      A visit to the region of Camkuyu, with its thick cedar forests barely
      penetrated by light and myriad wild flowers of its glades and
      pastures, is a rewarding experience never to be forgotten.

      * Ali ihsan Gokcen is a photographer and a freelance writer.
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