Europe and Central Asia
11 Dec 2015

Court blocks major road development threatening Turkish grouse populations

Lesser Caucasus Mountains - Photo © Ümit Öztürk
By Finlay Duncan

You may remember in October we brought you the story of a proposed major road development in Turkey (see here) which would travel across key biodiversity areas. Now, we have word from our Partner in the country (Doğa Derneği) that the High Court of Turkey has stopped the project, ironically named the ‘Green Way’ (Yeşil Yol).

The Turkish Government announced plans for the ‘Green Way’ in the summer. The major development, stretching for some 2,600km through the Eastern Black Sea Mountains of Turkey, would have threatened five mountainous Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) of international importance.

Doğa Derneği says if the project went ahead, the Lesser Caucasus population of the restricted-range Caucasian Black Grouse would be severely threatened from the road construction, causing a globally significant decline in the range of the species. Of the plant species put at risk by the development, 111 are endemic to Turkey, with the full world range of 26 of these confined to the Lesser Caucasus only. Ten additional animal species endemic to the Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot would also likely be threatened by the construction.

The court found the plans contradict principles of Turkish Environment Law. It cancelled regional environmental masterplans for six provinces – Ordu, Trabzon, Rize, Giresun, Gümüshane and Artvin – from the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation, which were legally underpinning the ‘mega-road’.

Chair of the board of Doğa Derneği, Dicle Tuba Kılıç, told us: “There have been many cases in the past, when the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation did not act upon court decisions and nevertheless permitted constructions on the ground.

“We hope this will not be the case for the 'Green Way' project. This project is clearly one of the biggest threats ever in the Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot and Endemic Bird Area and it must be cancelled permanently.”

Hopefully the High Court’s decision will stand and there's a re-think on the 'Green Way' project’s future.

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

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