The Global Impact of Protecting One Turkish Lake

lake yenicaga bolu turkey photo

Yeniçağa Lake. Photo: Yeniçağa Belediyesi (Municipality).

Once a popular swimming spot, Yeniçağa Lake in the northwestern Turkish province of Bolu has become too polluted even to sustain the healthy fish populations once found there. But thanks to an international restoration effort, the lake is slowly recovering, to the benefit not just of the local environment, but the global fight against climate change.Fisherman in the area saw their catches of crayfish and carp drop off as growing amounts of sewage from nearby villages and fields was drained straight into the lake, the German public-television station Deutsche Welle reported as part of its ongoing climate-change-themed series "Ideas for a Cooler World." The increasing levels of pollution affected both the lake itself and the surrounding peat bogs.

Peat Bogs Are Natural Carbon Sinks
When the lake's water level rises due to spring rains, the polluted water spills over into nearby bog areas, Turkish biologist Çağrı Muluk told Deutsche Welle. The bogs and the flora and fauna they support are already heavily degraded by local landowners draining off water for agricultural use. But worldwide, bogs are excellent natural storage depots for carbon dioxide, a key global-warming gas -- and their destruction can mean releasing it into the atmosphere.

With the help of nearly 1 million euros in funding from the German government, efforts are being made to clean and restore the lake and the peat bogs, in order to revive Yeniçağa Lake as a tourism destination, improve the lot of fishermen, and preserve the bogs' function as carbon sinks. A sewage-treatment plant planned for the area will also bring jobs to local residents.

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