Grant Recipients Conference, Turkey 2017

Grant Recipients Conference, Turkey 2017

15-16th May 2017

During the conference we saved some details as the examples of the impacts from the projects. For instance, from Iran there was a good example of where Rufford Funding has enabled disproportionately large and tangible conservation impacts to be delivered. The project was a really good example which was conducted by the team of Echo of Persia Wildlife Foundation (EPW)titled as Resolving human conflicts, participation of local people in conservation, and raising people awareness about threatened species in Parvar protected area. As we learned from the presentation, the team achieved the sustainable progress about human conflicts on various big mammals in the huge geographical region. The second good example was from Palestine Territory. Despite very hard political and socio-economical situations, the project of wild biodiversity garden in Bani Naim to conserve local flora, perform ecotourism and to conduct botanical research, it was one of tangible conservation impacts to be delivered.

There was a good example of locally developed approaches to biodiversity management from Turkey. Ass. Prof. Nedim Kemer who is Landscape Architecture and working with hydrobiologists in multidisciplinary way on the nature conservation. During their habitat conservation project was developed and introduced in a sensitive aquatic habitat of a typical Mediterranean working landscape in the Köprülü Kanyon National Park, in South Turkey between 2007 and 2009. The essence of the project was to collaborate with locals to irrigate responsibly by preventing fish par from swimming into dead-end irrigation channels during their reproduction cycle. This innovative project was named as “fish filter / scare-fish.”

On the other hand, there were some early career conservationists in the conference, but one team was really impressive. Salih Tora Benzeyen who is student in the department of the International Relations, is enthusiastic bird watcher in Turkey. After he joined the different bird conservation & observation projects/events, he decided to establish a Rufford Project related with the rehabilitations of the Raptors in the Central Turkey at the end of the last year. This was interesting because the Raptor rehabilitation never studied systematically in Turkey. On the other hand, they created some interesting and attractive social media events related with their Raptor Conservation Action project in Turkey. Even if they are just in the 3rd month of their project, their project and the Logo of Rufford already seems to famous in Turkey.

There was a good example from Turkey related with how Rufford funding has helped support work on species and ecosystems that are traditionally difficult to fundraise for. The Conservation Biologist Senem Tuğ Aksöyek studied on Wolf populations in Bozdağ region, situated at the center of Anatolia (Turkey), was of particular interest owing to the Turkish Mouflon Breeding Station. Wolfes are unwanted creatures in the region and they are called as monsters due to densely animal husbandry in the region. But with the support of Rufford, she could finish her studies. And she investigated the interesting results to solve the human-wildlife conflicts. If the sheepdog numbers get to increase (3 to 5), the numbers of wolf attacks get to decrease inversely. Then, just with this simple information, shepherds increased their sheepdogs in their herds. This study was the first attempt at elucidating human-wildlife conflict, which is usually the biggest obstacle in wildlife and herd management in many parts of the world as in Turkey.

There was an interesting example also how Rufford grants have provided seed funding to build capacity, identify conservation needs and develop replicable models for future projects. Dr. Baran Yoğurtçuoğlu is an Hydrobiologist in Turkey and studying on Toothcarps (Aphanius sp. species). This group of species is lesser studied in Turkey. Dr. Yoğurtçuoğlu studied well about its bio-ecological properties, threats, its invasives etc. He also identified specific conservation needs and develops replicable models for future projects such as creating artificial pools for in-situ conservations, working together with the Zoos for ex-situ conservations and industrial bodies in the study area to create a good sustainable conservation model.

NATURA that was the organiser of the conference had a good example of how Rufford funding has helped train a future generation of conservationists. During their second Rufford Project, they established a Sweetgum Working Group with the participation of the different stakeholders (G.D. of National Parks, G.D. of Natural Assets, G.D. of Forestry Department, G.D. of Water Affairs, Local Agricultural Departments, Municipalities, Governors of the towns, Local universities, NGOs, City Councils etc.) in Köyceğiz-TURKEY. NATURA is also in the executive board of the working group. The working group has just prepared 5 year (2018-2023) conservation action plan for this endemic forest. The action plan will be started to apply at the end of 2017.

Despite nearly all of the participants and the teams have published materials such as articles, books, oral&poster presentations, proceedings etc. related with their Rufford projects, there is a better example on this topic from Levantine Sea (Turkey). Dr. Aylin Akkaya Baş who is Marine Ecologist and working for Marine Mammals Research Association in Antalya-TURKEY. Although there are some studies on Marine Mammals in Turkey, the Levantine Sea, which was defined with a lesser degree of marine mammal presence, is actually home to a diverse assemblage of different cetacean species and the endangered Mediterranean monk seal that are known to be in a considerable population decline. However, insufficient data on basic ecological knowledge such as abundance, distribution, residency and movement patterns of marine mammals has contributed to the lack of effective conservation strategies within the Levantine Sea. After their Rufford Project’s results of two-year annual surveys in the northwestern Levantine Sea, they observed Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) in Antalya and published those observation results.

Their observations were contributed the marine mammal knowledge of the area and to propose viable conservation strategies. Also those observations were so useful as conservation tools such as control the marine traffic, mass tourism (water sports), illegal hunting etc. in Antalya Province which is the one of most popular touristic destination in Turkey.

The meeting provided a multidisciplinary platform for environmental scientists, conservation specialists, management professionals and government regulators to discuss the latest developments in environmental research and nature protection and to present results of the projects supported by RSG Foundation.

On the other hand we had three special speakers during our conference. First key speaker was Ass. Prof. Çağatay Tavşanoğlu from Hacettepe University (Department of Biology, Ecology Section - Turkey). He gave a special speech about "Fire-related dynamics in the Mediterranean Basin Ecosystems". Second speaker was PhD Ugur Zeydanli who is the General Director of the Foundation of Nature Conservation Center (DKM-Turkey) gave a special speech about "the Conservation History of Mediterranean Ecosystems in Turkey". And third speaker was PhD Cem Orkun Kıraç who is the General Director of Underwater Research Society (SAD-Turkey). He guided us during our boat trip at last day of the organisation. He also gave a very special speech about "the Conservation History of Marine Life and Coastal Ecosystems in Turkey" during the boat trip.

We listened to the impressive stories of the conservation projects that were managed by the recipients, we investigated the facts of forest fires in its places, we visited the sea turtles rehabilitation centre and finally during our field trip we deeply studied the Anatolian Sweetgum Forests that is a endemic forest in Levant Region.

At the end of the conference all participants enjoyed the naturally and warmly atmosphere of Koycegiz that is one of typical Mediterranean Town in Turkey. Moreover, the participants shared their experiences and created new collaborations during the conference.

We thank very much to Mr. Gürkan Demirkale who is the Governor of Köyceğiz, Mr. Kamil Ceylan who is the Mayor of Köyceğiz, Mr. Mehmet İşçi who is the Director of Köyceğiz Forestry Department, Mr. Mehmet Ali Şahin who is the Chef of Köyceğiz Forestry Department, Mr. Alp Giray who is the owner of Flora Hotel and Professor Yakup Kaska who is the General Director of Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center (DEKAMER) in Iztuzu Beach (Dalyan-Mugla) for their all support such as accommodation, logistics and information etc.

We also thank again to all the recipients of Rufford Foundation who were attended to the conference or couldn’t come to the conference for some reasons. We hope that this conference will create good connections for the conservationists.


36° 57' 50.9076" N, 28° 41' 47.7996" E
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