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Europe and Central Asia
20 Oct 2015

The not-so-Green Way: Special conservation area threatened by major road development

Caucasian Black Grouse - Photo © Kadir Dabak
By Finlay Duncan

There are fears a special conservation area in Turkey is being put at risk by a new road project.

BirdLife’s Turkish Partner, Doğa Derneği, warns that a development to connect highland areas of the Eastern Black Sea region is a major threat to the Caucasus Endemic Bird Area, which is important for protecting a number of restricted ranges and threatened species and is home to the Caucasian Black Grouse.

Among the plant species threatened by the project, 111 are endemic to Turkey, while the world range of 26 of these is confined to Lesser Caucasus area only. In addition, ten animal species endemic to the Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot are also likely to be put at risk.

Ironically the road is being nicknamed the ‘Green Way’ (Turkish: Yesil Yol) by authorities.

Doğa Derneği says the Turkish Government tells them the road project will be 2,600km long in total. It'll also pass through the beautiful alpine and subalpine meadows of the Eastern Black Sea Mountains in the Lesser Caucasus.

Of most concern is the suggestion that the road will travel across five mountainous Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) of international importance: the Giresun Mountains, Zigana, Karadere, İkizdere and Soğanlı Mountains and Northern Kaçkar Mountains.

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If this transport project is implemented in full, Doğa Derneği warns that the Lesser Caucasus population of the restricted-range Caucasian Black Grouse will be severely threatened, leading to a globally significant fall in the range of the species.

"If the Yeşil Yol project is implemented in full force, Turkey will lose a great proportion of its alpine biodiversity in an irreversible way," President of Doğa Derneği, Dicle Tuba Kılıç, said. 

"This development project is clearly one of the biggest threats ever in the Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot and Endemic Bird Area. Many key species, such as the Caucasian Black Grouse, will be negatively affected by the mega road construction, for which no strategic environmental impact assessment has been made. No one knows exactly how the unique biodiversity of the Caucasus will be affected by the project, yet the project is already being initiated in some segments with an ad hoc approach," he added, also pointing out that apart from biodiversity, the valuable water resources of the Black Sea region are also severely threatened by Yeşil Yol. 

“Doğa Derneği (BirdLife in Turkey) argues that the implementation of this plan will have severe impacts on biodiversity and supports the environmental legal casework initiated by the local communities in the region.”

In all, 141 plant, 34 butterfly, two dragonfly, five reptile, six amphibian, two freshwater fish, 16 bird and 19 mammal species are thought to be affected by the project.

More details on the work Doğa Derneği is doing is available on their website here.


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.