Major Highway Construction Permanently Halted in Gediz Delta, Turkey

Home to 10% of the world population, and 30% of the European population of Greater Flamingos, the Gediz Delta in Turkey is a globally significant wetland, that has just been saved from the construction of a major highway.

Gediz Delta, a Ramsar Site since 1998, extends over 40.000 hectares along the eastern coast of Izmir Bay, where the Gediz River meets the Aegean Sea. The delta annually hosts 15’000 pairs of flamingos during the breeding season along with several other species such as the Dalmatian Pelican. It qualifies as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) for the great variety of species and it is recognised as an IBA in Danger because of major development projects posing threats to the site. Moreover, the delta provides essential livelihoods to the local population, comprising one of the largest salinas in the Mediterranean.

The wetland has been threatened since several years by plans to build a major highway to connect southern and northern coasts of the Izmir Bay, trespassing breeding islands of coastal and wetland birds and key foraging areas of flamingos.

Doga Dernegi (BirdLife partner in Turkey) recently announced that the Administrative Court of Izmir permanently halted the major highway construction. The court case was initiated by Doga and its allies in 2017, and the execution of the project had been suspended as a precautionary measure in August 2018.

This historical decision of the Administrative Court of Izmir states that the project would have passed through a key biodiversity area which is protected by international conventions and has different national and international protection status. The statement also emphasize that the project may have led to the reduction of food sources, such as artemias that constitute the most important food item for flamingos. The ecosystem connected with delicate balances may have been damaged by the project.

MAVA has been working with Doga Dernegi since 2008. We support the organisation in its activities in Gediz within the frame of our action plan aiming at enhancing the conservation of coastal wetlands, and more specifically the salina.

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