Nature lover Tuğberk Emirzade is organising guide tours in which he is providing an insight for the exploration of the secret gems of walking trails.
Çeviri: Gizem Kumbaracı
Although having a very small size, the beautiful geographical landscape of Cyprus, which is often known as ''Island of Heaven'', has lots of unknown aspects. Tuğberk Emirzade, who is originally a biologist and has lots of knowledge and awareness of the nature and environment, made a great effort on reintroducing some of the least known hiking trails of North Cyprus to the country's tourism. Besides that, they are still working on the improvements and repairs of the hiking trails. Nature lover Emirzade is also organising touristic tours involving the sightseeing of the most obscure but breathtakingly beautiful features of our country. We had a great conversation with Emirzade whose main mission in life is to be able to connect people with the nature.
NCUK: How has the process of the project of creating hiking trails and the maps started and what kind of progress has been made?
T.E: In 2010 in North Cyprus a task was made for Private Environment Protection Areas. We started a project to create hiking paths and their maps for the visitors of these areas. We discovered that there has been many hiking trails made by different people for different purposes, independent from each other. For these hiking trails to be used and recognised by a bigger group of people and to provide a better service to them, with the support of Ministry of Tourism and Environment we merged these trails, added all in one map and made official labelling of the land. To carry out these projects we formed the ''Parkour Committee''. For approximately 6 – 7 years, by using the data we gathered from different agencies, associations and people, we created 25 different ring trails and one long distance trail both for the local and for the international tourists to use practically.
NCUK: Can you give more information about the trails that you mapped?
T.E: Our country's nature and climate is very suitable for hiking. Because it never gets too cold in winter, it is possible to hike in the nature from October to May, maybe even until June. There are very little safety risks of getting lost, being frozen or getting attacked in our country, therefore there is always an available environment for everyone to be able to have a relaxing hike. Although it is actually possible to hike in every area, when we were choosing the official hiking trails we considered some important factors. We planned that 25 ring trails to be expanded from Yeşilırmak in the west to the Karpaz Burnu in the east to help the tourism and to show our country's natural and cultural diversity. Trails are designed so that historical and natural landmarks such as memorial olive trees, St. Hilarion and Kantara Castle, Bellapais, Tatlısu Window Rock, Ay Philon Church, which are worth for sightseeing, are included along the trail to increase their worth in tourism. For the starting points of these trails to be found easily by the public, we built wooden signboards we called the ''trail gates'' which have the names of the trails on them. Trail maps have been designed and printed as 6 copies of leaflets and can be obtained from the Tourism Information Offices or its website*. Currently, we are using ''Adopt-a-Trail'' system in our project with the aim of finding a sponsorship for each trail to be able to provide a better care and cleaning service for the trails. 225 kilometres of Kyrenia Mountrain Trail is a long distance trail that is appealing mostly to the adventurists. It starts from Kormacit Burnu and reaches to Karpaz Burnu without any interruption. The trail passes mostly through the Beşparmak Mountains and uses asphalt road only on few brief points of the pathway. The guide book of this labelled trail is still in designing stage.
NCUK: Despite the encountering of the human wastes and damages made, do you think there are still beautiful places to be seen in the nature while hiking?
T.E: Recently, the biggest problem that threatens our country's nature and the hiking trails is the constructions made without a proper planning. Unfortunately the depredation that is proceeding under the name of motorway construction is not being stopped and this is causing an irreversible destruction of the nature. While it is obvious that motorways between the cities are inadequate, destroying the completely virgin juniper forests for constructing roads between the small villages in Karpasia area that are not even used frequently, destroying the hills which are covered in maki and are unique to Karpasia's natural landscape makes no logical and scientific sense. Besides wasting country's resources, destroying the natural inheritance of the country in order to construct the roads in this way is a betrayal to the humanity and to the World. One of the most important ways to protect the nature is to conduct a research before making any construction in any area and to design the project with the vision of protecting the nature based on the research that is conducted. Humans are a part of the nature and they need it to live healthily. It is very possible for humans to be able to find a way of living and improving in the nature without destroying it. However despite of all these negative facts, the resources that this island provides allow us to work on such projects with joy and share our effort with the other people.
NCUK: We know that you have a great knowledge of plants and trees. In what ways are you sharing all this information with other people?
T.E: I am trying to share my feelings and knowledge about the nature with children and people as much as possible. Maybe my mission in life is to connect people with the nature. There are some ways that I have fulfilled my mission. One of them is the open air seminars or clinics in trekking style that I organised mostly for associations and institutions. I visit some schools to collaborate mostly with the teachers by describing them some ways of integrating the nature education in their lessons. The main thing I do though is to spend my day in the nature and be a guide to the hiking groups who want to explore.
NCUK: Which countries do the people who are interested in our country's tourism come from and why do you think they do?
T.E: I am in contact with the hikers mostly from Norway, Sweden, Germany and England and I often ask them ''Why Cyprus?''. According to their answers, Cyprus has lots of advantages based on its nature tourism. While most cities are covered in snow in Europe, the fact that Cyprus is sunny and warm, has natural, historical and cultural resources, is safe in general and provides great hospitality are the most important reasons. Unfortunately, the reasons why some do not prefer Cyprus is environmental pollution and it being more expensive compared to other holiday destinations. However, I want to believe that we will get through the environmental pollution problem in time with increased awareness about protecting the nature.
NCUK: What are your expectations and vision about North Cyprus's cultural and natural protection?
T.E: For centuries, Cyprus became a land that bigger civilizations tried to exploit and it is still not free from this exploitation. Most of the island population has been formed with the remains of these bigger civilizations and also been fed from this exploitation. Therefore they could not change this degeneration, instead they asked for it to happen. The decisions that determines the future of the country, dynamics thatdirect cultural change, disorganisation in our daily lives are damaging the cultural and natural habitat that makes Cyprus, Cyprus. The ''collective consciousness'' which holds the community together is being wiped as the natural and the historical inheritance of the country disappears. Unfortunately the effort of few people, who think for the future generation, are adequate, have willingness to make an effort to reach success, and have high morals, are not enough. My hope is for this small group of people to increase in size with a new movement, to reach a massive size and for a new period of sensibility to begin. I realised that politics is a good way to start this process. By making some official changes in different areas, I believe that we can solve many problems.
If you want to contact Tuğberk Emirzade
The maps of the hiking trails that is prepared by himself and his team;
Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Nisan 2018, 10:09