Environmental issues in Turkey

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Turkey hosts more than 3000 endemic plant species, has high diversity of other taxa, and is almost entirely covered by three of the world’'s 35 biodiversity hotspots.[1] "Yet, Turkey'’s environmental laws and conservation efforts are eroding, not improving. This has precipitated a conservation crisis that has accelerated over the past decade. This crisis has been exacerbated by legislative developments that may leave Turkey with a nature conservation legal framework that is weakened and severely out of line with globally accepted principles".[2] The main environmental issues in Turkey are the conservation of biodiversity, water pollution from the dumping of chemicals and detergents[citation needed], air pollution, greenhouse gases and land degradation.[3]


Conservation of biodiversity[edit]

"Turkey has a remarkable diversity of wildlife, due to its wide variety of habitats and unique position between three continents and three seas. Ill-considered development projects are threatening biodiversity, but a new wildlife corridor offers hope for further conservation progress." [4] Turkish montane forests face major threats to their genetic diversity associated with over-exploitation, forest fragmentation, air pollution and global climatic change.[5]

Air pollution[edit]

Air pollution is particularly significant in urban areas;[6] the problem is especially acute in Istanbul,[7] Ankara, Erzurum, and Bursa, where the combustion of heating fuels increases particulate density in winter. Especially in Istanbul, increased car ownership causes frequent urban smog conditions. "Air pollution in urban centres, often caused by transport and the use of small-scale burning of wood or coal, is linked to a range of health problems." "PM10 levels are 36.7 micrograms per cubic meter, much higher than the OECD average of 20.9 micrograms per cubic meter and the annual guideline limit of 20 micrograms per cubic meter set by the World Health Organization." Although there is some monitoring of air pollution, compared with other European countries many air pollution indicators are not available.[8] Greenpeace Mediterranean claim that that the Afşin-Elbistan coal-fired plant is the power plant with the highest health risk in Europe, followed by the Soma coal-fired power plant, also from Turkey.[9][10]

Climate change[edit]

Summer temperatures have increased and are expected to continue to increase.[11] Proposed new coal-fired power plants would increase Turkey's CO2 emissions.[12] Turkey is working towards joining the European Union Emission Trading Scheme.[13]



Turkey's most pressing[citation needed] needs are for water treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities and solid waste management. There is a potential for spills from the 5,000 oil- and gas-carrying ships that pass through the Bosporus annually.


Turkey does not have sufficient water.[14] Almost three quarters of water consumed is used for agriculture.[15]

Land degradation[edit]

Land degradation is a critical agricultural problem, caused by inappropriate use of agricultural land, overgrazing, over-fertilization,.[16] Serious soil erosion has occurred in 69% of Turkey’s land surface. According to one estimate, Turkey loses 1 billion tons of topsoil annually.

Green space in cities[edit]

Former military land in cities may be rezoned for housing.[17]


Environmental issues are becoming more politically sensitive.[18]

In general, private firms have responded more fully to environmental regulation than state owned enterprises[citation needed], which still constitute a large percentage of Turkey’s economy.

Changes in the law on environmental impact assessments are being considered which will permit mining investments without waiting for environmental impact assessments.[19]

The EU has asked for "a stronger political commitment".[20]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Biological Conservation - Turkey’s globally important biodiversity in crisis". Elsevier. Retrieved 2014-08-28. 
  2. ^ "Science - Turkey's rich natural heritage under assault". AAAS. Retrieved 2013-05-11. 
  3. ^ "Biological Conservation - Turkey’s globally important biodiversity in crisis". Elsevier. Retrieved 2014-08-28. 
  4. ^ "Current Biology - Turkey's biodiversity at the crossroads". Cell.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  6. ^ "GREEN - Air pollution ‘gravest environmental issue’". Hurriyetdailynews.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  7. ^ "Elemental characterization of PM2.5 and PM1 in dense traffic area in Istanbul, Turkey". 
  8. ^ "Turkey air pollution country fact sheet". 
  9. ^ "Greenpeace warns about threat of Turkey's coal-fired power plants". Today's Zaman. 
  10. ^ http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/greenpeace-activists-detained-in-turkey-for-protesting-thermal-power-plant-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=71593&NewsCatID=340
  11. ^ "Climate change Turkey". 
  12. ^ "E.On looks to build new brown coal in Turkey". 
  13. ^ "Turkey – Market Readiness Proposal – (03.05.13)" (PDF). 
  14. ^ http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/how-can-we-fight-against-droughts.aspx?pageID=449&nID=70792&NewsCatID=507
  15. ^ http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/how-can-we-fight-against-droughts.aspx?pageID=449&nID=70792&NewsCatID=507
  16. ^ "Assesment of Irrigation Water Quality of Some Provinces of Turkey" (PDF). 
  17. ^ http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-armys-green-areas-may-face-risk-of-settlement.aspx?pageID=238&nID=52420&NewsCatID=340
  18. ^ "Riot police break up ODTÜ protest in Ankara". Doğan News Agency. 
  19. ^ http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/environment-approval-process-not-to-delay-big-projects-economy-minister-says.aspx?pageID=238&nID=55297&NewsCatID=340.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "The fight to protect Turkey's green spaces began decades ago". Guardian. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.