Friday, December 23, 2011

Biodiversity in Turkey at risk yet largely ignored…

A scientific article in Biological Conservation outlines
“Turkey’s globally important biodiversity in crisis”

There’s been a recent burst of attention to threats to biodiversity in Turkey, particularly after the publication in Biological Conservation of an article by 13 scientists. The 18-page report on “Turkey’s globally important biodiversity in crisis” was even covered by the New York Times in a story that profiled the lead author, a conservation biologist at the University of Utah. In addition to that role, Cagan Sekercioglu is the founder of KuzeyDoga, and organization that promotes biodiversity research and conservation in Eastern Turkey.

TreeHugger picked up the story with an article by Jennifer Hattam titled, “Arbitrary, development-obsessed environmental policy-making threatening Turkey's ecosystems.” Here’s an excerpt:

"As ecologists and conservation biologists working in Turkey, we have witnessed a similar level of increasing arbitrariness in environmental policy, where economic development has trumped all other concerns," wrote Sekercioglu, the lead author of a comprehensive report that painted a grim picture of Turkey's biodiversity in crisis.

Legislative or legal developments over just the past two years have created a host of obstacles to ecosystem protection. According to Sekercioglu, these include allowing mining in wildlife refuges, excluding riparian and coastal areas from wetland conservation zoning, constructing dams and other energy projects in protected areas, redefining terms such as "common good" and "sustainable use," and eliminating independent conservation committees.

This is especially interesting since neighboring Armenia faces similar development and governance challenges in relation to biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. Many of the regions under study were also part of Western Armenia prior to the genocide. Given the proximity to present day Armenia, there are undoubtedly transboundary conservation issues between the two countries that are worthy of attention. In short, the issues under discussion are directly related to Armenia's natural heritage.

In addition to the Times coverage, TreeHugger reviews details of the article from Biological Conservation here.