Aegean towns sue Forestry Ministry for opening protected wetlands to investors
İZMİR – Doğan News Agency
This image shows flamingos resting at the Gediz Delta near İzmir, which is one of the wetlands threatened due to intense construction activities in its surrounding area.The Union of Aegean Mayoralties, which includes dozens of resort towns on the Aegean coast, has sued the Forestry Ministry for reducing the areas of protected wetlands and allocating them for the use of investors.
The move from the Forestry Ministry comes after a new regulation that entered into force April 4.
The townships have applied to the Council of State, objecting to eight articles of the regulation on the protection of wetlands, arguing they pave the way for construction.
According to the lawyers representing the Aegean towns, the new legislation enables potential construction on wetlands classified as “locally important” by giving the ministry the authority to distribute permits to investors, while only sites that are protected under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands would be exempt from any privatization. In their petition submitted to the court, they also warned that areas with very rich bio-diversity and shelters endemic plants might be threatened through arbitrary decisions.
“With the regulation that has been object of a lawsuit, wetlands and areas sheltering endemic species, as well as many forests, will be destroyed. This is why this regulation is a blatant violation of the Constitution and forestry law,” said lawyer Enis Dinçeroğlu.
He also added that the regulation also breached six international conventions: The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, the Rio Convention on biodiversity, the European Landscape Convention, the Protocol Concerning Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas, the Bern Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats and the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CİTES).
“We fear unavoidable environmental disasters if this regulation is put into force,” Dinçeroğlu said.
The government has recently been criticized of opening archeological sites and areas within natural parks along the Aegean and Mediterranean Coasts into construction, including in the Datça Peninsula and near the protected İztuzu beach. The Gediz Delta near İzmir, known for its flamingos, is also one of the wetlands threatened due to intense construction activities in its surrounding area.