Turkey’s highest wetland in danger of illegal construction
A peat swamp in the Black Sea region comprising 600 hectares of acidic peat soil and known as the largest high-altitude wetland in Turkey is in danger of extinction due to deliberate damages caused, negligence and illegal constructions.
The 10,000-year-old Ağaçbaşı peat swamp in Trabzon province, 50 hectares of which has been declared a “natural protected area” and “a sensitive area to be protected,” is under the threat of illegal construction after being burned three times in the last three years by unidentified people.
In these fires, an area of 25 hectares of the swamp was damaged where endemic species were sheltered, and a large number of salamanders, moles, bird nests and many living species in the region perished as a result.
As the ongoing criminal investigations into the fires could not reach those responsible, the swamp, which is described as a scientific treasure, now faces a new, irreversible and irreparable threat: Reinforced concrete constructions.
While visual pollution occurred in the highland, where the number of illegal structures increased, it was also observed that garbage was dumped indiscriminately into wetlands and streams, which were the habitats of salamanders.
“Illegal construction continues inside the protected area. We cannot say that these fires were caused by accident,” said Coşkun Erüz, the chairman of the Association for the Conservation of Natural and Historical Values.
İlyas Kumbasar, a tour guide, pointed out that the area was not sufficiently protected, and it started to turn into a dump.