Thousands of truckloads of sand stolen from protected area on Turkey's Mediterranean coast

More than 2,000 truckloads full of sand was stolen from a protected area along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, home to one of the country's top dune ecosystems, the chairman of the Agriculture and Forestry Labour Union said. 

Sand was illegally removed from Turkey’s Patara specially protected area (SPA) and sold to greenhouse owners in the region, Şükrü Durmuş toldCumhuriyet newspaper, and efforts to take the matter to court were prevented by the ruling party’s district chairman.

Moreover, the district governor dismissed the civil servant responsible for documenting the incident so it could be taken to court, according to Durmuş.

The Patara SPA is a unique archaeological site that includes a coastal forest, wetlands, sand dunes and a loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta) nesting beach. The SPA’s wetland systems create Turkey’s most important dune ecosystems on the country's Mediterranean coast, according to a 2020 Council of Europe report.

The site is part of an ancient city where excavation work has taken place in the past, Durmuş said.

“The habitat of the region’s famous caretta caretta turtles, as well as endemic species may have been damaged during the process,” he added.

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