As more and more people plunder ancient forests in search of fossilized tree bark to make a quick buck by selling them online, an expert called on authorities to enact laws to protect millennia-old artifacts.
It takes millions of years to form fossilized trees. These special trees provide information from 160 million years ago, whereas those common in Turkey range between 18-23 years. Fossilized trees are often preserved in national or global geological parks.
Hüsrev Özkara, an official at the country’s foresters association, stated that all kinds of animal and plant fossils are natural assets and they provide information about different geological periods.
Even though it takes a tree’s bark more than 100 million years to fossilize, it takes only several minutes for a person looking to get rich quickly to plunder it away recklessly from forests.
Some people plunder fossilized trees and sell them online. Fossilized trees fall victim to those who want to make money on social media quickly.
Özkara said some fossils were placed under legislative protection, which he called inadequate. He added that the laws are not being enforced properly.
“There is no legal obstacle for citizens to buy and sell fossilized trees. But this causes arbitrariness. Everyone takes them away from the site. They are first bought as souvenirs, but over time, as such things become more valuable, the trade begins,” he said.
Meanwhile, a forest botany professor at Istanbul University, Ünal Akkemik, said that people ask him about the price of fossilized trees on social media, while he is doing a research project about them.
Akkemik told that there isn’t enough protection even for areas designated as geological parks in Turkey, and he wants to raise awareness and apply new legislation.