Humans engaging in outdoor activities during the coronavirus pandemic are leaving a trail of trash in their wake, threatening Turkey's mountain ecosystems, a Turkish marine scientist and mountaineer warned Friday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) on the eve of International Mountain Day observed Friday, Ersan Başar, head of the Turkish Mountaineering Federation, said people have increasingly turned to natural areas to refresh after long days spent indoors during the pandemic.
Başar, a marine science professor from Trabzon's Karadeniz Technical University, stressed that many people were engaged in camping and mountaineering activities to relax and enjoy nature.
Başar underlined the importance of having training in mountaineering and nature sports, saying the training brings a high degree of environmental sensitivity.
"Mountaineering training begins with the protection of nature and the environment. Therefore, it is very important for people who will start mountaineering to get training," Başar said.
"Camping sites are the riskiest areas in terms of environmental pollution. Mountaineers need to bring their garbage to the dumpsites in the settlements and produce as little litter as possible," he said.
Başar warned campers not to mix any unnatural products into the water in rivers and lakes, stressing that these areas, which provide drinking water for many living creatures, are the most important sources of life in the mountains.
"The risk of mountain accidents has recently increased as people who go to nature have not been trained about life in nature. Therefore, our federation has started to provide online training," he added.
Stressing that studies on mountains have been increasing day by day, Başar said many scientific articles have been published on mountains, especially on their fauna and flora.
"It will be beneficial to develop projects with the participation of universities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and mountain villagers to emphasize mountain culture," he added.
Başar said the Turkish Mountaineering Federation annually marks International Mountain Day by organizing various activities.
"Awareness studies are continuously carried out in the mountains to increase the respect for the mountain culture and to not disrupt the natural structures of the mountains," he noted.
As this year's theme is "mountain biodiversity," biodiversity should be protected by increasing awareness, he said.
The United Nations declared 2002 the International Year of Mountains as awareness of the importance of mountains was increasing. The first international day was celebrated in 2003.