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In search for the Monumental Trees

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I have always been enthusiastic about the relict distribution of our native trees in my area. Finding out new relict populations or visiting the ones already known are among the reasons why I go out into the nature. While navigating the Ankara area on Google Earth for relict trees, I came across with several evergreens standing on their own in the overgrazed rocky hills of Ayaş district. I called some of my forester friends and informed them about my new discovery. We all in fact thought that they were black pines (Pinus nigra). However, further investigation was necessary to determine the exact species.

With my forester friends, we decided on a date to visit the site. Unfortunately, the weather forecast showed heavy rain for that day, after around 1 pm. Therefore, we decided to meet up early and complete the field trip part really quick. At around 8 am, I picked them up from the north western Ankara neighbourhood of Batıkent and we continued our way through a narrow valley in between the mountains, climbing up to an altitude of 1220 meters above sea level.

We finally arrived at the evergreen population, located just west of the village of Bayat. We got out of the car and took our necessary equipment like camera with us. We walked through the overgrazed rocky terrain. As we got closer we noticed that something was off. The evergreen trees looked nothing like black pine, even from a distance. Their appearance resembled junipers more closely. We decided to go next to the oldest one, which may be a candidate for registration as monumental tree. Upon closer investigation of the leaves and the fruit, the species was determined as Juniperus foetidissima. According to the knowledge of my forester friends, this species has a tendency to grow in deeper soils, but this location has a really shallow rocky soil. Therefore, it was a little bit extra ordinary to see this species here. After some investigations about the site we started to measure the tree. The trunk diameter was around 140 cm, crown spread 14 m and height was around 10 m. It was definitely worth registering the tree as a monumental tree.

As we walked back to the car, the rain started. Luckily we finally got back into the car before the rain got heavier and stronger. Our plan for today also included a brief visit to another individual tree, which sure was a black pine. To visit that individual tree we drove to the village of Feruz, around 11 km away. The tree we investigated was a black pine, however it was not large and old enough for registration. That black pine individual is a relict individual tree that remains isolated within the oak dominated woodlands. Within the close proximity of the black pine there were several young black pines which grew from the seed of the parent tree and survived the grazing pressure.

The rain slowed down a little bit, therefore we were able to investigate that black pine and get back to Ankara on time. We followed another route through the hills and arrived at the town of Kazan. After Kazan, we followed the freeway for 35-40 km to the city. We were lucky enough to arrive our homes before the strong rain came, between 1-2 pm.

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