Turkey´s nature is diverse, valuable, beautiful and in many places intact. However, it is also under acute threat. What threatens it and where is it heading?
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.
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.
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.
The Black Sea is one of the world’s most isolated seas, and the largest anoxic body of water on the planet (87% of its volume is anoxic). It has also been called Europe’s most polluted sea. In Trabzon along the Turkish Black Sea coast, we sat down with researchers Dr. Muzaffer Feyzioğlu and Dr. Coşkun Erüz from the Karadeniz Technical University to discuss the state of marine conservation, microplastics and people’s attitudes towards marine litter.