February Eco-Tidbits from Turkey


The Aegean town of Akyaka (left) wants to become an eco-friendly "slow city" while the Munzur Valley (right) in eastern Turkey is threatened by plans to build a dam in the area. Photos via Friends of Akyaka (L) and Arser (R) via Wikimedia Commons.

On the global Environmental Performance Index recently released by the U.S. universities Columbia and Yale, Turkey ranked pretty much right-smack-dab in the middle. With particularly low scores for biodiversity/habitat and air pollution, the country came in 77th out of 163 nations on a list led by Iceland and ending with Sierra Leone. Turkey could move up or down future lists due to developments this month, environmental news that prompted reactions of "süper" (yep, just like in English, but with an umlaut) and "maalesef" (unfortunately):Süper!

  • The growing civil resistance to hydroelectric dams was bolstered by a court decision to halt the construction of a power plant in the Black Sea province of Rize because watershed planning had not been properly conducted by the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

  • The coastal district of Akyaka, on the Gulf of Gökova, is seeking to stroll in the footsteps of nearby Seferihisar in being designated a "slow city" by the international cittaslow movement. The small Aegean town aims to create a community "that respects nature, preserves its architectural structure, and focuses on sustainable ecological tourism."

  • The Turkish State Railways announced that it would invest some $12 billion over the next decade to build a high-speed rail network and increase train use in the country for transporting both passengers and freight.

  • According to Turkish energy officials, an additional 3,400 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity will be added to the market this year, compared to 1,000 mW in 2009. The Energy Market Regulatory Authority says it expects to see the private sector invest 5 billion Turkish Liras in energy this year -- 3.5 billion of it on renewables.

Maalesef...
  • The Turkish government says it will finally start construction on the controversial Ilısu dam in April, having secured new funding after European credit insurers withdrew financial support over concerns about the damage the dam would cause to the country's environment and cultural heritage.

  • Another dam project, this one in the Munzur Valley in eastern Anatolia, would endanger the 1,518 types of plants, including 50 endemic species, in the area, which was declared a national park in 1971.

  • A Greenpeace protester who unveiled a banner reading "No to a nuclear plant in Sinop" during a parliamentary meeting was removed by police and angrily criticized by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. "Those [media] who want to follow the country's important developments, should follow them with us. Let them go [out] if they want to follow such trivial things" as the protester's arrest, Erdoğan said. "We won't allow people with a piece of rag in their hand to prevent Turkey's move to benefit from a nuclear plant."

Previous wrap-ups of Turkish environmental news:
January 2010 Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
December 2009 Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
November 2009 Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
October 2009 Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
September 2009 Eco-Tidbits from Turkey
August 2009 Eco-Tidbits from Turkey

Tags: Dams | Nuclear Power | Renewable Energy | Trains | Turkey