Turkey’s ongoing water resources and energy problems have already resulted in the damming of a number of rivers in that country to create reservoirs for both water storage and creation of hydro electricity. A planned government project to construct a dam across the Macahel Valley, the country’s lone UNESCO recognized natural biosphere reserve, has now been canceled. The cancellation is attributed to intense efforts by local and international environmentalists to save what is considered to be a unique natural haven for a number of wildlife species, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet English News Agency.
The planned project, in which a large dam was to be constructed as part of a hydro-electricity project, has been the subject of the environmentalists fight for past few years. The dam’s construction plans were announced then for the region in northeastern Turkey to help solve the country’s increasing energy need, as well as provide much needed fresh water.
Being a UNESCO recognized natural biosphere reserve the region is unique for a species of honeybee, the Caucasus bee, one of the world’s three most important bee species, and which actually reproduces in the valley. The valley is also home to a large number of larger animal species, including bears, deer, wolves, jackals, red foxes, badgers, martens and weasels.
Turkey’s damming projects have been ongoing for some time; including ones like the damming of the Euphrates River, turning a once mighty river into not much more than a stream.
Alianoi Roman Spa
Another project, which is also being fought tooth and nail by both environmentalists and archeologists is a dam to built near the ancient Roman spa site of Alianoi.
The spa site in located in a valley that is planned to be flooded in order to create a reservoir with a capacity to irrigate 8,000 hectares of farmland. Archeologists claim that this historical site has only been “about 20% excavated” and if covered by water from the new dam would literally bury the site forever.
All of these projects makes one wonder if Turkey is really one of the world’s most environmentally friendly countries, as its government spokesmen often say it is – especially in regards to water conservation.
Turkey’s Environment Protection and Development Association Chairman Hasan Yavuz was quoted by the Anatolia news agency regarding his efforts to prevent the Macahel valley dam from being built:
“The efforts of both our association and local [residents] to prevent the construction were not responded to, so we finally took the matter to court.”
This environmental victory in Turkey may help to encourage environmentalists to press their cases against other projects like the Alianoi dam project, more vigorously in the Turkish courts.
Read more about damming and other environmental issues in Turkey: