Maybe we are not aware of it, but Turkey is a very rich country when we consider lakes and wetlands. Besides, it used to be even richer in terms of wetlands. So what happened? We dried these areas by suffocating water. At the point we have arrived, we are not only pulling the water, but we are uprooting the wetlands with the increasing human pressure. The results based on geographic information systems show that at least 1.2 to 1.5 million hectares of wetland are located in our geography. In the past 100 years, at least 1.2 million hectares of these areas have deteriorated or been irreversibly lost. The rest are getting smaller day by day. How does it happen? That is to say, we are experiencing losses that we cannot prevent due to increased construction, insensitive decision makers, population growth and pollution. The burdens of climate change on the geography we live in are not to mention the environmental problems we are in.
A new example of our losses, the Bargilya Wetland
Located within the borders of Milas in Western Anatolia, the Bargilya is an important wetland that hosts hundreds of bird species. This area, which is next to the heavily destroyed Güllük Delta, is one of the last lagoons in Turkey to survive. Bargilya, which is a home for especially migratory bird species, is also a breeding area for many bird species. Observation studies conducted over the last 30 years show that approximately 100 bird species that depend on wetlands use the area for wintering, breeding and feeding. The Güllük Delta was a frequent destination for pygmy cormorants during their migration, with the highest number of individuals ever recorded at 221. Bargilya, on the other hand, is one of the rare refugium of flamingos in Western Anatolia. The area also gained importance for pygmy cormorants after the Güllük Delta was damaged. Eurasian oystercatchers are also among the visitors of the area.
The region in which the site is located is also home to historical and cultural assets such as the ancient cities of Bargilya and Cyndia, so the region also has an archeological significance. For thousands of years, it has provided the peoples of the Aegean with food, shelter and a sheltered harbor. The Bargilya is an important carbon sink area within the Milas district, collecting groundwater, cleaning polluted waters and softening the climate in the region. With all these features, the Bargilya is an area of national importance. In these days when we signed the Paris Climate Agreement, this area is a natural value that we have the responsibility to protect by considering climate change.
So, what’s happening in the wetland?
With a project realized with the partnership of Net Holding-Ağaoğlu, the area is opened for construction. We are witnessing a new example of the most tangible damage done by humankind to nature in the region. The “tourism project” approved by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization undoubtedly puts this wetland in danger. Muğla Environment Platform (MUÇEP) and TMMOB Muğla Branch filed a lawsuit against the project for the stay of execution. It is planned to build approximately 4000 villas, 4 different hotels and 6 daily resting facilities in the region where such an important natural area is located. The excavation that will occur during the construction is over 1 million tons. It is also certain that the human pressure that will emerge after the facility is built will be far above the carrying capacity of the area. In fact, the cost is obvious, but we ignore it like we always do.
Wetlands are one of the world’s most productive ecosystems, with biomass production almost equal to tropical forests. The task of protecting wetlands is under the control of two different ministries in our country. However, when it comes to rent-based construction projects, neither the ministries are doing the right thing, nor are the promises we made with international contracts fulfilled. As a result, we destroy the biomass that has formed over a very long period of time. And while the damage we do to nature increases day by day, we are losing these areas irreversibly; the negative situation brought about by keeping our promises brings our prestige as a country to a very different point, both at home and abroad. At the end of the article, my last word is “to the immediate attention of the decision-makers in our country…”.