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Fight to Save Turkish Delight

Continuing the fight to save the Gediz Delta - one of Turkey`s most important wetlands

Despite being saved from initial development plans, one of Turkey`s most important natural wetland areas faces a new threat from the proposed construction of an international harbour. Do?a Derne?i (BirdLife in Turkey) and EgeDo?a (the Aegean Society for Conservation of Nature) are fighting hard to protect the Gediz Delta from destruction.

The Delta, close to the city of Izmir on the western coast of Turkey, is a key site for a number of species including Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, Red-Breasted Goose Branta ruficollis, Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni and Caspian Tern Sterna caspia. The site is protected by international conservation legislation as a designated Ramsar site ? a wetland of international importance. In winter, some 80,000 waterbirds can be found at the site. The Gediz Delta is the only wintering place for Black Stork in Turkey and is one of only two breeding places for Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus rubber in Turkey ? up to 20,000 Flamingos over-winter at the site. Most of this Flamingo population feeds close to the proposed harbour and their habitat would be completely destroyed if proposals were realised.Do?a Derne?i and EgeDo?a led a successful court case against implementation of initial development plans, saving 8,000 hectares of intact salt marshes from permanent destruction. Previously, WWF-Turkey had also won a court case against development of the south-eastern segment of the same area. However, the site is now under renewed pressure from lobby groups striving to convince the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forestry to allow the construction of an international harbour.

There`s no way you could build a harbour like this in the Delta and still keep the birds. It would be very very close to the breeding colonies. said Guven Eken, of Birdlife International.

The conservation of the Gediz Delta as a natural area has significant implications in terms of increasing the local economy in addition to protecting birds and other wildlife. Salt production is important on a national scale, as is fishing for the local economy. Both would be devastated by development of the harbour. Most importantly, the Delta has major potential for eco-tourism. EgeDo?a and Do?a Derne?i are currently preparing an eco-tourism plan, which could bring great benefits to the 3.5 million inhabitants of nearby Izmir ? as well as the Delta`s wildlife ? if carried out properly.

4th July 2014