The depletion of natural ecosystems continues worldwide, with serious negative consequences for human and other species. The current rate of global extinction of plants and animals is more than a thousand times higher compared to natural extinction rates observed throughout life’s history on Earth. Biodiversity crises now extend from mountains to forests, oceans to deserts, to the polar belt and virtually to all corners of the globe. The number of species known to be threatened with extinction has topped 17.000.
Turkey, extending throughout the Anatolian Peninsula and Thrace, is located at the junction of three continents. Thus, the country has a very diverse topographical and geomorphological structure. With nearly 10,000 species of vascular plants and ferns, Turkey has the richest flora of any country in the temperate zone, with a level of endemism at 34%. New plant species are still being discovered in Turkey at a rate of more than one species a week. Turkey is of outstanding value for threatened and migratory birds and holds several endemic insect and inland fish species. The global map of biodiversity hotspot gives perhaps the best insight on Turkey’s global importance for conservation. Three out of 34 biodiversity hotspots meet in Turkey: the Caucasus, the Mediterranean, and the Irano-Anatolian.
393 species in Turkey occur only at one KBA globally. Most of these species are plants (362 species) and mainly extend along the Taurus Mountains rim in southern Turkey. Additionally, two amphibia, 19 freshwater fish, three butterflies, three mammal and four reptile species occur at one site only. 42 KBAs in Turkey host single-site endemic species.
In 2005, Doga launched a zero extinction programme with the aim of halting species extinctions in Turkey. This programme comprised restricted range and threatened endemics along with a number of flagship species. The goal of this programme is to prevent extinctions and ensure the survival of species in their natural habitats. Through long-term research and conservation work conducted by Doga, in collaboration with several other organizations, nearly 100 globally or regionally threatened species are saved from the brink of extinction in Turkey, including the globally threatened Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) and Goitered Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa).