Major Conservation Victory in Turkey: The Gediz Delta, home of ten percent of world’s greater flamingos is saved from major highway construction
Doga, BirdLife Partner in Turkey, announced a major conservation victory to save the Gediz Delta Ramsar Site. The Administrative Court of Izmir Province, Turkey, unanimously halted the project of a major highway construction passing through critical habitats of the Gediz Delta, in Aegean Turkey. Last year, Doga and its allies opened a court case asking for the cancellation of a mega bridge and highway project, approved by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization of Turkey in March 2017. The court has recently concluded that the proposed project will have irreversible and major negative impacts on this unique wetland and particularly on bird populations, based on an extensive scientific report written by the official expert committee appointed by Administrative Court of Izmir Province. Doga, earlier stated that the bridge’s northern end will irreplaceably destroy key feeding grounds of flamingos and many other waterbird species and initiated a nation-wide campaign and court case to halt the project.
Gediz Delta, a Ramsar Site since 1998, is known to host around ten percent of the world population, and 30 percent of the European population of Greater Flamingos, during breeding and wintering seasons. Annually, 15 thousand pairs flamingos nest at the Gediz Delta, along with several other species such as the Dalmatian Pelican. The delta qualifies as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) for the great variety of species. It also has a cultural and social value, providing essential livelihoods to the local population, comprising one of the largest salinas in the Mediterranean. The delta extends over 40.000 hectares along the eastern coast of Izmir Bay, where the Gediz River meets the Aegean Sea. Its habitats are diverse, including lagoons, reed beds, fresh and salt water marshes, salt meadows, seasonally flooded meadows, islets, arable land and Mediterranean scrublands.
The recently cancelled bridge and highway project aimed at connecting the southern and northern coasts of the Izmir Bay, which would result in direct loss of breeding islands of birds and key foraging areas of flamingos. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project was readily approved by relevant governmental bodies, despite the area lies within the nationally protected wetland area and it is adjacent to the Gediz Delta Ramsar Site. The court stated that not enough information on possible impacts of the project on both birds and habitats of the Gediz Delta are provided in the EIA report. If implemented, the bridge project may have fragmented precious habitats of the delta such as salt marshes, wet meadows and lagoons which are commonly used by sea- and shorebirds, not only for breeding but also for foraging and roosting, throughout the year.
Chairwoman of Doga, Dicle Tuba Kilic stated that: “It is fascinating news that the Administrative Court of Izmir Province cancelled this detrimental highway project, which would have severely threatened the Gediz Delta IBA. Gediz Delta is one of Turkey’s most extensive coastal wetlands. Its biological integrity is protected by national and international legislation, reflecting the natural wealth and diversity of the habitats it contains. Doga and many other national and international organizations are active to save this unique wetland since 1998. The decision on building a mega-bridge at this protected wetland came as a major surprise to nature conservation community in Turkey and elsewhere. We have used all legal instruments for the elimination of this major threat on Gediz Delta and sought for international solidarity to save the flamingos of the Mediterranean and the world. We are very pleased by having achieved this recent conservation success. Doga and its allies will continue to pursue for better conservation of the Gediz Delta IBA, until a stronger conservation scheme is in place and the area is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
For more information:
Itri Levent Erkol
+90 549 718 58 76