Half of Turkey's wetlands lost in last 40 years, report says
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 2/6/2011 12:00:00 AM |
Turkey has lost half of its 2.5 million hectares of wetlands over the last 40 years due to poor water management practices and water pollution, a new report has said.
Turkey has lost half of its 2.5 million hectares of wetlands over the last 40 years due to poor water-management practices and water pollution, the World Wildlife Fund Turkey has said in its 2011 report.
The country’s largest body of freshwater, Lake Eğirdir, is among those threatened by pollution, the report said. Other threatened wetlands include those around Lake Beyşehir, Lake Bafa, the Büyük Menderes Delta, the Gediz Delta, Göksu Delta, the İğneada Su Basar Forests and Lakes, Lake İznik, Lake Sapanca and Lake Ulubat.
Lake Tuz, formerly Turkey’s second-largest lake, has diminished by 60 percent due to unsustainable consumption of both aboveground and underground water sources.
According to the WWF Turkey report, “Protection of Turkey’s Wetlands, the Problems and Solution Proposals,” some 1.3 million hectares of wetlands in the country have lost their ecological and economic value. The Hotamış reed bed has completely dried up and the Ereğli reed bed has diminished by 85 percent, the report said.
In addition to identifying at-risk wetlands, the report also suggested solutions to protect them, including the development of a National Water Law based on demand management and the creation of a national water database that would include all data related to water.
Integrated river-basin management should be adopted and wetlands should be protected, the report said. It added that social and environmental impacts of water infrastructure projects should also be taken into consideration and illegal water use should be halted.
Lake Kulu has diminished by 95 percent and Lake Beyşehir by 75 percent; Lake Akşehir has also been severely impacted. The report also pointed to the excessive use of underground water in the Konya closed basin, which contains 67,000 illegal wells, and the fact that Lake Suğla has lost its quality as a natural lake by being converted by the State Waterworks Authority, or DSİ, into a water reservoir.
The report recommended that underground water consumption be reduced to a minimum and water transfers between river basins should be utilized less frequently as a solution. In addition, it suggested a radical transformation in policies related to agriculture – a major consumer of water resources – and their implementation.