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Wednesday, 20 June 2012 00:00

Turkey's Kuyucuk Lake, Whitley Gold 2008 Awardee. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough

The environmental organization KuzeyDoga (www.kuzeydoga.org) is doing a community-based conservation, biodiversity monitoring, ecological restoration and ecotourism project at Lake Kuyucuk of Kars, eastern Turkey. This project won the Whitley Gold Award of 2008 and i received it from HRH Princess Anne of the United Kingdom. The same year, we petitioned the Turkish government for Ramsar designation, In 2009, Lake Kuyucuk became Turkey's 13th and eastern Turkey's first Ramsar wetland. Same year, we built Turkey's first island for wildlife in the lake and following our application, Lake Kuyucuk became Turkey's 2009 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN). Until now, KuzeyDoga has documented 220 bird species on and around Lake Kuyucuk, about half of all the birds ever recorded in Turkey.

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The Kuyucuk Lake is one of most important wetlands of Kars with the status of "Key Biodiversity Area (KBA)" and "Important Bird Area (IBA)". It is a globally Important Bird Area (IBA) located at 37kms northeast of city center, and, 15 kms west of Akyaka town. Kuyucuk Lake (43o27' N 40o45' E) over 219 hectares, has an elevation of 1.627 meters. Kuyucuk Village is one km away from the lake. The lake, situated on the Kars-Akyaka high plateau, in the centre of an open, undulating landscape is fed with stream and spring waters (max depth 13 meters) which is diverted for livestock. Human activities around the lake include cereal production and stock-grazing. Surrounded by treeless steppe and a few Phragmites reed patches, the surrounding vegetation is mostly removed by sheep and cattle. Wheat is grown around and it is possible that some agricultural runoff occurs, but our chemical analyses showed the water to be mostly clean and an ideal candidate for restoration unusual in Turkey. Sean Anderson, Phd. from California State University, conducted chemical analyses at the lake in Spring 2006 and 2007. Irrigation for sugar beet plantation in the past drained the lake for a period. Although plantation of sugar beet has ended, about half of lake's water and some of its species were lost. The Kars-Akyaka road bisects the north end of the lake. The legal status of the lake is Wildlife Reserve.

 

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