Turkey has lost wetland areas totaling 1.5 times the surface area of the Marmara Sea in the last 60 years, the Nature Foundation revealed in a study on Feb. 2, noting that there was little optimism that current measures would prevent further losses.
The study showed that in the last 60 years, around 2 million hectares of wetlands have disappeared in Turkey – a size that is around 50 percent higher than the surface area of the Marmara Sea, an inland sea in northwestern Turkey.
The foundation said many projects had been planned for the preservation of wetlands by the public waterworks department, adding that many had either not been employed or had not been successful. At the same time, the regulation to preserve wetlands has undergone many changes and has been weakened, said the foundation’s report.
The president of the Nature Foundation, Tuba Kılıç, said key steps were taken for the preservation of wetlands in Turkey that in the second half of the 1990s as a number of areas were included within protect areas as part of a regulation.
“However, in the last five years, we have seen that the measures to protect wetlands have fallen far behind the threats against them. Undoubtedly, the animals living in these areas show us the situation of wetlands in the best way. Whatever living group that depends on wetlands in Turkey that you look at, you see their numbers decreasing with great pace. Many species are on the verge of extinction. These include cranes that play a significant role in our culture and fish that are specific to Anatolia as well as white-headed ducks that face extinction. These living creatures are not only the indicators of their kind but also the quality of life in Anatolia,” said Kılıç.
Another study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) revealed that freshwater fish in Turkey were facing extinction at the fastest rate. It also showed that four water birds that are on the list of the country’s five “at risk” bird species were going extinct at an alarmingly quick rate.
Yale University also ranked Turkey 177th out of 180 countries in its nature protection list, accusing it of failing to take measure to prevent living creatures from becoming extinct.