We Exist Through Nature and Culture...
As one of the leading heritage NGOs in Turkey, the Foundation for the Protection and Promotion of the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ÇEKÜL) strives to foster and build a nation-wide awareness and network for the preservation of the urban and rural, built and natural environment.
ÇEKÜL was founded in 1990 by a group of intellectuals, the majority of whom were academics. Concerned about the impact of uncontrolled urban development and migration from the countryside, they joined forces to set up an organization to act as a guardian for Turkey’s threatened natural resources and cultural heritage.
Activities range from the restoration and renovation of the built environment on a “neighborhood-town-basin-region-country” basis to sustainable rural development, biodiversity conservation and afforestation. The Foundation works in collaboration with more than 300 historic localities throughout Turkey, for the protection of city and town houses and their contents, whole villages, fortresses, marketplaces and public squares, monumental structures and ancient archeological sites. Each of the projects involves educational, promotional, and community organizing objectives alongside main project goals.
The Board of Trustees oversees the Board of Directors in running the organization to deliver its core objectives. The Advisory Council Members bring a breadth of experience and perspective in policy development and goal-setting. An additional 110 regional representatives provide advice and support to projects across Turkey and act as ambassadors for the Foundation. The Secretary General and project coordinators at the headquarters in Istanbul are responsible for running and coordinating day-to-day activities.
The conservation of nature and the preservation of cultural values are addressed in unity, as complimentary aspects of human well-being. The past can inform and illuminate the present and the future, evoking a sense of identity and pride in previous achievements. The preservation and restoration of heritage contributes to renewing a community’s confidence in its future.
With the mission to create a national agenda prioritizing the issues of ‘culture’ and ‘nature’, ÇEKÜL draws on extensive practical experience to influence decision makers through lobbying and advocacy, undertaking research and piloting new ideas, and publishing and publicising the results.
ÇEKÜL’s vision is concisely summarized in Dr. Metin Sözen’s following words:
“Developing the widespread ownership of traditional values and cultural identity, strengthening public guardianship against disintegration... unfolding the supreme nature of human treasures and retaining their originality, utilizing high-standard measures for protecting, restoring and perpetuating their existence.... And transmiting them as a legacy, a vestige to the future generations... ”