World Wetlands Day 2000 - Turkey


wwdsticker4e-sm.jpg (7601 bytes)Celebration of World Wetlands Day in Turkey

The Minister of the Environment (Fevzi Aytekin) and the Governor of Icel Province in Turkey (Senol Engin) invited about 150 officials and agents of the Ministry of Environment (of the General Directorate of Environmental Protection, the Ramsar authority), the Authority of Protected Special Areas, the Ministry of Forests (National Parks and Protected Areas), the Ministry of Energy and Resources (DSI, the State Hydraulic Works) and their regional offices to participate in a two-day celebration of Turkish wetlands. Professor Erden Oney, the director of the Turkish Society for the Protection of Nature (DHKD) opened the celebration which took place in the small village of Yesilovacik at the Mediterranean coast close to the Göksu Delta Ramsar Site and Protected Special Area on 2 and 3 February 2000 with the additional presence of about 150 local people.

Besides of the short allocations of the representatives of the above-mentioned ministries and authorities, including the Ramsar Bureau, the first day included a panel discussion on "The Ramsar Convention approach to wetland management planning". Under the guidance of Melih Akalin, the Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of the Environment, the General Director of Environmental Protection (Ms Serap Kuleli), the General Director of National Parks and Game & Wildlife (Husrev Ozkara), the DSI Deputy Regional Director of Adana (Hasan Mert), Asst. Prof. Can Bilgin of the Middle East Technical University, and Sunay Demircan of DHKD contributed their views on this topic of the day. This was followed by a presentation on the "Management planning and its implementation in the Göksu Delta" by Mehmet Menengic, the head of the Silifke office of the Authority for Protected Special Areas and his colleagues who showed also progress made with the GIS. During the next morning, the participants could check progress on the spot during a walk along the Akgol freshwater lagoon, currently boosting thousands of wintering waterbirds.

The most significant event of the celebration was the presentation of the "Declaration of World Wetlands Day" by the Ministry of the Environment. It urges for the wise use and conservation of wetlands, notably through: - the elaboration of EIAs before projects which may negatively affect wetlands are included into investment programmes or planned, - the restoration of formerly drained wetlands, - an effective coordination between the different ministries and NGOs concerned (cf. above), - the elaboration and implementation of Ramsar Convention-type management plans for Ramsar Sites and subsequently also other wetlands, - the development of wetland monitoring, training and education programmes, - the adoption and use of the MedWet wetland database system, and - efforts to gain the support of the mass media and broadcasting organisations.

The most significant proposal in this Declaration urges to abolish the legal provisions on the need to drain marshes, notably in Article 2.c of the Organisations and Duties of the State Hydraulic Works (Legal Act 2600), in Article 9 of the Act 7200 on malaria eradication, and in Act 5516 on the drainage of swamps and on the use of land gained by drainage. It was said that the State Hydraulic Works agrees with the proposed "revolutionary" changes, provided that its legal experts will give the go-ahead. Thus, a bright future for Turkish wetlands looms on the horizon at this dawn of the 21st century.

The Ministry of the Environment published for WWD 2000 the Ramsar Manual (compiled by Dwight Peck and Valery Higgins of the Ramsar Bureau) in Turkish. Certainly, this will provide useful support for wetland conservation and wise use activities in Turkey.

DHKD took the opportunity of the WWD celebration to thank the Tour du Valat Biological Station (in France) for their help with the conservation of Turkish wetlands, notably through their involvement in the Göksu Delta since 1989, with the attribution of the DHKD Wetland Prize 2000 to Luc Hoffmann and Tour du Valat staff.

-- reported by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar Regional Coordinator for Europe

Mr Salathé's address to the gathering

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Professor Oney of DHKD opens the celebration in Yesilovacik.

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Opening speech by the Environment Minister, filmed by the TVs.

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The Environment Minister applauds Tour du Valat for their help with management planning in the Göksu Delta, while the Ramsar Bureau delegate holds the prize offered to Luc Hoffmann by DHKD. (Mr Hoffmann was attending the creation of the Prespa Park transboundary Balkan site on World Wetlands Day.) 

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Mehmet Menengic, the head of the management authority of the Göksu Delta, introduces the field visit.

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Participants on a newly created observation platform at the edge of Akgol lagoon.

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After the walk: a well-merited pick-nick for the visitors at the protected area entrance.

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Ramsar and other information panels at the site entrance.

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