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The Geopark Potential of Tortum Valley (Erzurum-Turkey) and its Surroundings

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Geoparks are areas including natural geographic characteristics which need to be protected due to their features and their significant scientific value. Sustainable regional development, which is one of the main aims of geoparks, is based directly on geo-tourism. Just as geo-parks have brought about innovations in the concept of nature conservation, geo-tourism has caused new implications in touristic activities. Although there exist many areas with geopark characteristics in Turkey, the problem is that they have not yet been officially defined as geo-parks. The only institution to act officially on the subject of geoparks in Turkey is the JEMİRKO (Turkish acronym of Jeolojik Mirası Koruma Dernegi – Society of Geological Heritage Protection) which is part of the Geology Engineering Department of Ankara University (Gümüş 2008; Sever 2005; 2010).

Tortum river valley and its close environs deserve the status of geopark with its distinctive landscape, ecosystem and landscape characteristics. The valley itself is even worth seeing due to its narrow sides and deeply carved slopes. The following features would also attract visitors: Tortum landslide barrier lake and waterfall, sequenced landslide lakes on the landslide mass, (Yedigöller), Uzundere Cave, badlands and fairy chimney, unique structures of bended and horizontal tectonic layers in valley mostra, formations of floating islands (Zökün lake), seasonal landslide lakes and waterfalls on the upper levels of the valley and notable climate and vegetation diversity contained in a short distance.

The aim of this study is to show the richness of Tortum Valley and its environs with regard to geoparks and geo-tourism and to introduce this unique diversity, caused by distinctive landscape characteristics, in order to develop rural tourism and improve economic wealth.

Regional economic development may be benefitted by the introduction and development of geopark and geo-tourism concepts in the area, which is already a natural outdoor museum, and by the formation of a tourism development model based on the protection of natural and cultural heritage.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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