Marine and Coastal Protected Areas
The most comprehensive project on strengthening marine and coastal protected areas system in Turkey was began with an opening workshop on 12 November.
New Horizons - By facilitating the expansion of the national system of marine and coastal protected areas and improving management effectiveness, the project will expand the country’s system of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas by approximately 100,000 hectares, an equivalent of 44%. This expansion will include the first significant initiative to create restricted areas for fisheries, a potentially critical tool in Turkey’s efforts to conserve marine biodiversity.
Home to 3 of the 200 most important global ecoregions Turkey has an 8,500 km coastline spanning the Mediterranean, Aegean, Marmara and Black Sea. On this relatively long coastline, a total of 3,000 plant and animal species have been identified.
Unfortunately, Turkey’s marine biodiversity has been seriously impacted by anthropogenic pressures. Among the threats against marine biodiversity are the degradation of marine habitats and ecosystems, and the overharvesting of marine resources and conversion and/or destruction of coastal habitats. Protected areas have a potentially significant, yet largely unrealized role to play in eliminating these threats to marine area biodiversity in Turkey. Currently, only about 3% of Turkey’s territorial water is protected.
Although Turkey has been active in establishing Marine and Coastal Protected Areas (MCPAs) to protect its marine biodiversity from these threats, the size, shape and ecological representativeness of the MCPA network remains inadequate. Furthermore, most of the MCPAs in Turkey are multiple use areas, and have not been specifically designed to protect biodiversity or optimize ecosystem benefits. All these setbacks necessitate the establishment of a new system MCPAs.
The “Strengthening Protected Area Network of Turkey: Catalyzing Sustainability of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas” project which will be applied in Foça, Gökova, Datça-Bozburun, Köyceğiz-Dalyan, Fethiye-Göcek protected areas and Ayvalık Islands Nature Park will have a great impact on the conservation of marine biodiversity as well as strengthening marine protected area network in Turkey. With the project, it is expected to develop the capacities and internal structures needed for prioritizing the establishment of new MCPAs and for more effectively managing existing MCPAs. Also, new financial planning and management systems for MCPAs will help facilitate effective business planning to ensure adequate levels of revenue generation and cost-effective management. Inter-agency coordination mechanisms will be put in place to regulate and manage economic activities within the MCPAs. This will help and encourage inter-agency co-ordination at national and regional levels.
In addition, the project will also strengthen the management capacities of the MCPA authorities through a proposed national-level plan to guide further expansion. To address a fundamental GAP, new structures will be established for inter-agency coordination, thereby addressing an fundamental gap. As a result, agencies and other stakeholders will be able to effectively address both land-based and marine-based threats to marine biodiversity.
Following the project launch an opening workshop held in Ankara during the second week of November, the importance of the project serving as a model for other countries in both global and regional contexts was emphasized. In his opening speech, President of Environmental Protection Agency for Special Areas (EPASA) Ahmet Özyanık stressed that the agency is aware of the importance of Turkey’s Marine and Coastal Protected Areas and the lack of national framework in planning, monitoring and support of marine and coastal protected areas. He further explained that this project is an important step in establishing a national system in collaboration with related agencies.
“Strengthening Protected Area Network of Turkey: Catalyzing Sustainability of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas” project is funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and executed by the Environmental Protection Agency for Special Areas (EPASA) working in close cooperation with the General Directorate for Nature Conservation and National Parks (GDNCNP), and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. UNDP is the implementing partner. Department of Foreign Relations, State Planning Organization, the Undersecretariat for Maritime Affairs, the Turkish Coast Guard Command, the Ministry of Public Works and Settlement, the Ministry of Transportation, the Culture and Tourism, governors of districts and villages headmen, marine and coastal management faculties and research institutes, national and local NGOs, and local representatives are the stakeholders and beneficiaries of the project which will begin in 2009 and end in 2013.