Personal tools

next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

Turkey

Nature protection and biodiversity (Turkey)

Why should we care about this issue

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Turkey’s genetic diversity becomes important with plant genetic resources in particular because Turkey is located at the intersection of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern gene centers. These two regions have a key role in the emergence of cereals and horticultural crops. In our country, there are 5 micro-gene centers in which more than 100 species display a wide variation and which are the origin or centre of a large number of important crop plants and other economically important plant species such as medical plants. These centers offer very important genetic resources for the future sustainability of many plant species cultivated across the world. In terms of animal genetic resources, it is agreed that many domestic animal races were originally bred in Anatolia as a result of its location and spread from here to other regions of the world.

Figure 1. Biogeographical zones of Turkey

Figure 1. Biogeographical zones of Turkey


Turkey, situated where two different gene and diversity centers overlap, is the gene and origin centre of the following cultivated plants among others: Triticum, Hordeum, Secale, Avena, Linum, Allium, Cicer, Lens, Pisum, Medicago and Vicia. In Turkey, wheat (Triticum and Aegilops) has 25 wild relatives, barley (Hordeum) 8, rye (Secale) 5 and oat (Avena) 8. Turkey is also rich in wild relatives of edible grain legumes and fodder crops. Our country has 4 varieties of lentil (Lens), 10 of chickpea (Cicer), 104 of trefoil (Trifolium) of which 11 are endemic, 34 of Lucerne (Medicago), 42 of sainfoin (Onobrychis), and 60 of vetch (Vicia) of which 6 are endemic Turkey is also the micro-gene centre of the species Amygdalus spp., Cucumis melo, C. sativus, Cucurbita moshata, C. pepo, Malus spp., Pistachio spp., Prunus spp., Pyrus spp. And Vitis vinifera (Tan, 1998). Turkey is the home of many decorative plants including the tulip and the snowdrop.

The richness of variety is also noticeable in fruit production. Of the fruit types estimated to number 138 in total, 80 are grown in Turkey. Among the fruit and nut varieties in Turkey, one may count apples, pears, quinces, cherries, sour cherries, apricots, peaches, figs,  omegranates, mulberries, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios. Viniculture holds an important place in our country’s agriculture. Anatolia hosts the wild vine (Vitis silvestris), which is the gene centre of the grape vine (Vitis vinifera).

Turkey is an agricultural country where plants and animals have been raised since ancient times. Our Southeastern Anatolia region, also called Northern Mesopotamia, is considered one of the centers of cultivation where mankind first started sedentary agriculture. For this reason, it is considered that many local animal races were first bred here by past civilizations and spread to other regions of the world. Turkey has rich gene resources with 8 cattle, 18 sheep, 4 goat, 7 horse and 9 poultry races.

Turkey has important inland waters ecosystems in terms of biological diversity with its rivers covering an area of around 10,000 km2 (1.6% of the country’s total surface area) and lakes. In the country, there are 7 drainage basins including 26 river basins, and it is estimated that the groundwater volume is 94 billion km3. The annual rainfall is around 640mm, of which nearly one third flows into water reserves and contributes to the viability of wetlands. However, as far as annual water consumption per person has been considered, Turkey has no water abundance. Water for consumption is around 1.500 m3 per person per annum.

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

This extraordinary ecosystem and habitat diversity has produced considerable species diversity. It is noted that fauna biological diversity is quite high in our country compared with the biological diversity of other countries in the temperate zone. Despite lack of data, the invertebrates constitute the largest number among the identified living species. The total number of invertebrate species in Turkey is about 19,000, of which about 4,000 species/sub-species are endemic. The total number of vertebrate species identified to date is near 1,500. Of the vertebrates, over 100 species are endemic, including 70 species of fish. Anatolia is the home of the fallow deer and the pheasant. The fact that our country is located on two major bird migration routes in the world makes it an important place as a feeding and breeding area for birds.

To appropriate Turkey’s wealth in flora species, a comparison with the continent of Europe will be sufficient: While there are 12,500 gymnospermous and angiospermous plant species in the entire continent of Europe, it is known that there are such species close to this number (about 11,000) in Anatolia alone, one third of which are endemic to Turkey. Eastern Anatolia and Southern Anatolia among the geographical regions, and the Irano-Turanian and Mediterranean regions among the phytogeograhical regions, are rich in endemic plant species (Table 1).

 

 

Table 1: Taxon numbers of species and subspecies of various plant groups; endemism, rare and endangered species, extinct species

Plant Groups

Defined Species/ subspecies

Endemic Species

 

Rare and

endangered

 Species

Extinct species

Algae

2.150

----

unknown

unknown

Lichen (Lichenes)

1000

----

unknown

unknown

Moss (Bryophytes)

910

2

2

unknown

Pteridophytes Ferns

101

3

1

unknown

Gymnospermae(Gymnosperms)

35

5

1

unknown

Monocotyledonous (Monocotyledons)

1.765

420

180

-

Dicotyledonous (Dicotyledons)

9.100

3500

1100

11

 

Thanks to the large number of studies on the Turkish vertebrate fauna, it has largely been brought to light. According to latest data, 460 bird species, 161 mammal species, 141 reptile species, 480 sea fish species and 236 inland waters fish species are known to live in Turkey (Table 2).

Table 2. -Taxon numbers of Species and Subspecies of various animal categories, endemism situation, number of rare and endangered species, and extinct species in Turkey

Table 2. -Taxon numbers of Species and Subspecies of various animal categories, endemism situation, number of rare and endangered species, and extinct species in Turkey


With its rivers and lakes covering an area of about 10,000 km2, Turkey has very important inland water resources to maintain biological diversity. In studies conducted so far, 135 wetlands of international significance have been identified and 12 of them designated as Ramsar sites. In Turkey, there are 7 drainage basins including 26 river basins, and the ground waters are estimated at 94 billion m3. The average annual rainfall is about 640 mm, roughly one third of which reaches water reserves and thus contributes to the maintenance of wetlands.

The different characteristics of the seas that surround Turkey, namely the Black Sea, the Marmara, the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, have resulted in the diversification of the biological resources they contain. The Mediterranean, which has the highest salinity and temperature among the Turkish seas, is the area with the richest biological diversity. After the opening of the Suez Canal, many species belonging to the Indian-Pacific area migrated through the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and settled in this area. 26 species were identified to have settled in the area through migration. There are 388 fish species in the Turkish waters of the Mediterranean, 389 in the Aegean, 249 in the Sea of Marmara and 151 in the Black Sea.

Forest areas have increased in size from 20.2 million ha to 21.2 million ha, increasing the forest areas by 1 million ha which is an approximate increase of 1%. During the last 30 year period, forest value increased 11%.

Although some of the habitats in Turkey are degraded or even damaged, they provide shelter for endangered species such as Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus), the sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the Mediterranean Sea.

A range of protected areas such as national parks, nature parks, Ramsar sites, etc. have been designated and their number has increased over the last few years. In Turkey, there are 41 national parks (898.044 ha), 31 nature protection areas (46.575 ha), 34 nature parks (79.299 ha), 103 nature monuments (5.541 ha), 14 special protected areas (1.211.254 ha), 81 wildlife protection areas (1.201.285 ha) and 13 Ramsar sites (203762 ha) declared as protected areas. The proportion of protected areas under various statuses to the country’s total surface area increased from 4 % to about 6 % after 2000.

The total number of cereal types developed through the use of local and imported breeds and recorded during the last thirty years in Turkey is 256, of which 95 are wheat types, 91 corn, 22 barley, 22 rice, 16 sweet sorghum, 11 oat and 2 rye. The National Seed Programme constantly raises new varieties and the number of cultivated species thus steadily increases, while field crops such as small red wheat (Triticum monococcum), double-grain wheat (Triticum dicoccum), bitter vetch and lupine are not used as much as in the past and consequently tend to disappear today.

The cross-breeding of local race farm animals with imported culture races has led to the danger of the loss of local gene resources. On the Black Sea coastal strip, almost all local cattle have been turned into the Jersey race. Nevertheless, only 25 % of the local races have been crossbred with culture races and 75 % maintain their purity. Again, the ‘Kıvırcık’ sheep of Thrace has been crossbred with the German ‘Ots-Friz’ race to develop the Tahirova race, causing the genetic erosion of both endemic species. Certain sheep varieties such as ‘Karakul’ which lives in the northern transition zone and ‘Tuj’ which lives in the Kars region are faced with the danger of extinction. Another local animal race under threat is the Angora goat, which has been placed under protection to prevent its total extinction.

Turkey’s inland waters potential comprises: 33 rivers (177,714 km), 200 lakes (906,118 ha), 159 dams (342,377 ha), and 750 ponds (15,500 ha). Nine of Turkey’s rivers are more than 500 km long: Kızılırmak, Fırat, Sakarya, Murat, Aras, Seyhan, Dicle, Yeşilırmak and Ceyhan rivers. It is found out that 236 taxons live in Turkey’s inland waters at either species or sub-species level. Out of those taxons, 70 are endemic to Turkey.

A 2005 compilation reported the presence of a total 263 invasive alien species from 11 systematic categories in Turkey’s seas. The molluscs with 85 species come first, among the invasive species, followed by the crustaceans with 51 species, fish with 43 species and phytobenthos with 39 species (the phyto-organisms at the sea bottom). 20 invasive species were identified in the Black Sea, 48 in the Sea of Marmara, 98 in the Aegean Sea and 202 on the Mediterranean coasts.

While most of the invasive species in the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara were carried by vessels, the invasive species blooms of Red Sea origin occurred on the Mediterranean coasts. The benthic habitats (soft and hard grounds) contain 76% of the total invasive alien species and 39 species are found in the pelagic waters. Around a half of these species are seen at depths varying from 0 to 10m on Turkey’s coasts. However, 8 species are seen at depths greater than 100m.

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Threats to Agricultural Biological Diversity and Steppe Ecosystems

In Turkey, the most reduction and loss is in the steppe ecosystems on ecosystem basis. The major cause of this is that steppe areas mainly occur in flat plains, that they are proximate to settlement areas and that they are abandoned. The following table summarizes the threats to agricultural biological diversity and steppe ecosystems (Table 3). While some of these threats arise out of internal factors connected with agricultural practices, the external factors that affect land and resource utilization cause some other to happen.

Table 3: Common threats to agricultural biological diversity and steppe ecosystems             

 Table 3: Common threats to agricultural biological diversity and steppe ecosystems

Threats to Forest and Mountain Biological Diversity and their Causes

Mountain ecosystems include wetland, forest and steppe ecosystems, and therefore any pressure on those ecosystems in turn becomes a threat to mountain ecosystems. In addition, the factors that cause the reduction of Turkey’s mountain biological diversity include:

• The excessive use of forests in mountain ecosystems without considering their bearing capacity both at ecosystem and species levels (hunting, grazing, lumbering, visitors, in-forest constructional activities, etc.);

• The impacts of atmospheric pollution and global climate change;

• Pressures arising from the dependency of communities living in and around forests on agricultural and forestry products (livestock, uncontrolled use, gaining farmlands and forest fires) and the insufficient number of income-generating programs;

• Increasing construction due to tourism incentives, uplands tourism, the high number of visitors in the archaeological sites, and other tourism activities exceeding the bearing capacity;

• Alien species;

• The over gathering of plants having an economical value;

• Wrong mining activities;

• Wrong and insensible aforestation.

More than half of Turkey’s forest ecosystems have been destroyed. The factors that cause the reduction of Turkey’s forest ecosystems biological diversity include:

• The excessive use of forests without considering their bearing capacity both at ecosystem and species levels (hunting, grazing, lumbering, visitors, in-forest structures, etc.);

• The impacts of atmospheric pollution and global climate change;

• Pressures arising from the dependency of communities living in and around forests on agricultural and forestry products (livestock, uncontrolled use, gaining agricultural lands and forest fires) and the insufficient number of income-generating programs;

• Increasing construction due to tourism incentives, uplands tourism, the high number of visitors in the archaeological sites, and other tourism activities exceeding the bearing capacity;

• Alien species;

• Taking forests out of the forest regime;

• The destroying of forests for gaining farmlands;

• Forest fires;

• Destruction by insects;

• The uncontrolled taking of flora and fauna samples.

 

Threats to Coastal and Marine Biological Diversity and Their Causes

The threats to coastal and marine biological diversity can be listed as the entry of foreign species, over fishing, illegal fishing, pollution, the destruction of habitats, tourism activities, and interventions with the water regime.

Threats to Inland Waters Biological Diversity and Their Causes

The threats to inland waters biological diversity can be the occurrence of alien species, excessive or illegal fishing, pollution, the illegal hunting of birds, reptiles and their youngs or the gathering of their eggs, excessive grazing, the destruction of habitat, the uprooting of aquatic plants, the burning of reeds and uncontrolled cutting of them, secondary buildings, sedimentation, pressure from tourism, and interventions with the water regime.

The excessive use of inputs like fertilizers and pesticides to have better yield in agricultural products and both domestic and industrial wastewaters cause the contamination of inland waters, changes in food chain, and the degradation of water quality.

Fish and similar species released to inland waters for economic purposes either knowingly or unconsciously lead to irrecoverable changes in the natural inland waters biological diversity of the country. For example, the pike-perch species released to the Lakes Beyşehir and Eğirdir has caused the endemic Phoxinellus and P. Handlirschi species to become extinct.

Climate changes brought along with global warming with impacts felt more day by day and the resulting new practices that must be implemented in water sources utilization and management (e.g. the increased utilization of groundwater, increased utilization of inland waters resources as either drinking or irrigation water) will pose a stronger threat to the sustainability of many inland waters ecosystems.

The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Due to the biological diversity value that rural areas possess, their socioeconomic characteristics and needs have a special importance in determining the principles of conservation and sustainable use. In Turkey, about 65 % of the population lives in cities and 35 % in the rural areas. However, it is estimated that another 5 % of the rural population has joined the urban population since 2000. This change in the structure of population is due both to the rapid urbanization and to migration from the village to the city.

Having regard to Turkey’s plant genetic diversity, the In-situ Conservation of Plant Genetic Diversity National Plan was adopted in 1998. The plan establishes legal, institutional and financial requirements for the in-situ conservation of the species that are important for agriculture, food, economy and culture (www.bcs.gov.tr). However, an effective system has not been developed for the in-situ conservation of agricultural genetic diversity due to gaps in the legislation and to insufficient infrastructure. There is a need for strengthening the infrastructure for ex-situ conservation.

Despite having rich agricultural genetic resources and other medical and aromatic plant genetic resources which offer a very important economical potential, Turkey can use the least of its current potential in improvement, cultivation and production due to insufficient financial resources and to gaps in the conservation program. Another aspect of this is the lack of legal and institutional mechanisms that will reexport to Turkey the benefits the other countries gain from the Turkish genetic resources.

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

The Draft Law on Biodiversity and Nature Conservation has been prepared to overcome above mentioned challenges and, in the meantime, to ensure re-arrangement of legal and institutional structure in this line. 

 

National Biodiversity Data Base System has been established and launched (Noah’s Arc biodiversity data base) (www.nuhungemisi.gov.tr) in October 2007.  The system consists of main three parts: species, habitats and areas. Data are provided from universities, NGOs, scientists and researchers.

 

The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan has been prepared in 2007 under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Red List concerning plants has been prepared but still needs to be updated. Also, efforts for the preparation of Red Lists for endangered or under threat animals is going on.

 

The proportion of protected areas to the country’s total surface area increased from 4 % to about 6 % after 2000. The aim is to increase the proportion to 10 % of the country’s total surface area.

                

 

Disclaimer

The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100