The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the Quaternary Kula region in western Turkey as a geopark — a geological heritage of outstanding international significance — in 2013. The aim was to protect this rare and beautiful site of extinct volcanoes and to make it accessible to the public. A UNESCO inspection this month will find that the geopark is instead being degraded at an alarming rate.
Rubbish from Kula town has been dumped in the pristine volcanic cones, shanty buildings have been allowed to encroach on the lava fields and construction refuse has piled up near the geopark walkways. The crater of the only perfectly preserved cone, Sandal, is polluted by debris from tourists.
Pumice quarrying in the 1980s had already destroyed one-quarter of the magnificent Kula cone, which is now filled with municipal waste. Quarrying continues to wreck other cones.
We urge UNESCO to call the Turkish culture ministry to task and stop the ignorant, wanton destruction of this precious natural and cultural legacy.