Grassroots initiatives

From Mowgli’s jungle to the peaks of Annapurna

We are excited to arrive in the Annapurna Conservation Area, to spend the next few days hiking the Annapurna Circuit, enjoying a landscape cradled within the Himalayas and observing one of Nepal’s iconic ‘Conservation Areas’ through our ecologist glasses. What we found simply amazed us: remote villages and monasteries showcasing a beautiful intertwining of Hinduism and Buddhism, the shifting landscape from jungle and terrace farmlands through dense alpine forests and rugged slopes to the abode of eternal snow, constantly surrounded by epic views of the Nepalese Himalayas. 

The Annapurna Conservation Area is the first protected area in Nepal that has allowed local residents to continue living within the boundaries after its establishment as well as play an integral part in the conservation of local nature.

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Protecting the underrepresented

Although rather small in size, Nepal is home to an outstanding diversity of plants, animals and ecosystems in a remarkable physical setting. The altitude varies between 60 m ASL in the subtropical Terai Arc to Mount Everest at 8849 metres. Within this range and diverse habitats, Nepal hosts almost 12,000 different species of flora, iconic animals such as the snow leopard, clouded leopard, bengal tiger, one-horned rhino, asian elephant, red panda and the pangolin. But what about those species and areas which don’t make the spotlight? Friends of Nature Nepal, a small team of passionate conservationists has been venturing into uncharted territories, rediscovering long-unrecorded species and stands up for the protection of many underrepresented or neglected species. 

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The wild nature and fierce guardians of Turkey´s Munzur valley

Deep in the rugged landscape of Eastern Anatolia lies one of the most scenic and biodiverse regions of Turkey. At the same time it is also the country´s biggest conflict region. Its inhabitants, the resilient Alevi Kurds have been long fighting to protect their home, long-standing traditions and whole identity.

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An office without walls

Nature conservation is not a nine-to-five job. Nature provides us with endless questions to answer if we are curious enough. With over 20 years of experience in bird watching, bird research, nature conservation and nature education both in Turkey and abroad, Lale Aktay and Özgün Süzüer have seen and experienced many sides of nature conservation, and we are eager to find out what drives them. We talked about research and on-site conservation of birds, the importance of knowledge transfer, building a network and being a role model for youth. Moreover, we heard about a successful initiative combining cycling with nature observation and got a glimpse into the field of ethno-ornithology.

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The intricate web of nature protection in Hatay

As we approached the province of Hatay, we had no idea yet how intricate and strong the nature protection community really is here. But soon enough, we found out that like the underground network of trees in a forest, the protectors of Hatay developed a unique and diverse network, consisting of academicians, conservationists, media personnel and nature enthusiasts, working as coordinated as we have not seen before.

And what are they protecting? Taking up only 0.7% of Turkey, Hatay hosts 60% of all of the country’s mammal species. Moreover, it is a major bottleneck for migratory birds and hosts some of Turkey’s most important wetlands belonging to the Asi river basin.

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Traditional ecological knowledge: our heritage and our survival strategy

Ceren Kazancı and Soner Oruç are ethnobiologists, studying traditional ecological knowledge in the Western Lesser Caucasus at the Turkish-Georgian border region, one of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots of the world. Like other ethnobiologists, they recognize that indigenous peoples, traditional societies, and local communities are critical not only to the conservation of cultural and linguistic diversity, but also biological diversity.

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Birds unite our changing world

“Birds unite our changing world”. This sentence welcomes the reader on Lider Sinav´s blog called Kuş Notları (“Bird notes”). As a six-year-old boy, Lider opened his first field guide for birds, a German book he received from his Swiss mother. And from there on, he was fascinated by birds. Now, even though he is only 29, he is only one of the most knowledgeable ornithologists of Turkey and has conducted fieldwork in research and conservation all over Turkey.

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