Zakad, or the Olive Tree Protection and Research Association, was formed in 2003 by Cenk Soykut and other Turkish Cypriot friends, all of whom were concerned about the destruction of the ancient olive tree population in North Cyprus. Due to the major rise in property construction, trees that had been growing for hundreds of years were being felled, making way for apartment blocks and houses.
For centuries the olive tree in Cyprus has been instrumental in the island’s fortunes with its fruit and the oil from it being major exports in the past for example. Some olive trees are still harvested today, but only to provide olives and oil for the local markets. And in the meantime, the population of trees has been severely reduced due to illegal felling and the olive tree’s use as one of the best woods for heating homes.It became a registered concern in North Cyprus in 2005, and
Zakad’s aims are to educate the population and construction companies on the olive tree’s heritage and tourism appeal, as well as to continue efforts to preserve those that remain and to prevent what Zakad call further ‘genocide’ of these monuments in North Cyprus. They have also re-homed uprooted trees where possible, giving them a chance to re-grow uninterrupted in new locations.
One other project called ‘The Olive Tree Rescue Project’ was in operation until as recently as 2005, but sadly this has since ceased; however they were also instrumental in re-homing felled trees, and provided emergency assistance on notification from the public upon seeing illegal felling work.
Zakad thankfully continues its work, and Cenk also runs the Burhan furniture shop in Kyrenia and the warehouse showroom in Lefkoşa. He is a keen environmentalist who has produced some wonderful pieces of art and furniture from remains of olive trees that have been found in an effort to continue the tree’s life in some form, even if not with its roots in the ground. Zakad have also been involved in several of the Olive Festivals in recent years, selling postcards and displaying art made from olive wood.
If you would like to know more about Zakad and its efforts, or if you would like to even re-home a tree or notify them about illegal felling or become a member of the organisation then you can contact them in the following ways:
Website : http://www.zakad.org/
Telephone : Cenk Soykut, President : +90 (0)542 859 1111