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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

Hayriye Esbah, Edward

Hayriye Esbah, Edward Allen Cook, Serif Hepcan, Baris Kara, Bulent Deniz ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS: POTENTIAL OF AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS: POTENTIAL OF AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES Hayriye Esbah Istanbul Technical University Faculty of Architecture, Landscape Architecture Department 34437 Taşkışla, Taksim, İstanbul,Turkey esbah@itu.edu.tr Edward Allen Cook Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Tempe, AZ 85287-1605 USA edward.cook@asu.edu ABSTRACT Serif Hepcan Aegean University Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Landscape Architecture 35100 Bornova-Izmir, Turkey serif.hepcan@ege.edu.tr Baris Kara, Bulent Deniz Adnan Menderes University Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Landscape Architecture 09100Aydin, Turkey bkara@adu.edu.tr, bdeniz@adu.edu.tr Agricultural landscapes are important biodiversity areas, and ecological networks can significantly contribute to biodiversity in these areas. The promotion of ecological networks and corridors are perceived as efficient nature protection policy instruments in Europe and all around the world. However, the number of researches is limited with regards to designing ecological networks in agricultural landscapes. Assessment of general site characteristics is vital in this endeavor, as they can influence the kinds of species that use the network, as well as the long term viability of corridors and the communities that depend on them. The purpose of this study is to investigate the structure of agricultural landscapes in the Big Meander (Soke) Plain, Turkey. Initial findings from site observations and GIS works are presented in this paper. Major habitats include Dilek Peninsula, Big Meander Delta, Bafa Lake, Azap Lake and their surroundings. Big Meander traverses the Soke Plain and forms the most important ecological corridor in the agricultural landscape. Other natural corridor types are remnant meander parts and seasonal creeks. Whilst narrow strips of mainly herbaceous vegetation are left between agricultural plots, hedgerows and windbreak corridors are rare. Infrastructure corridors such as roads, drainage and irrigation canals provide some opportunities for green network formation in the study area. Enhancement of these corridors may propose important opportunities for establishing an ecological network in the study area. 80

Hayriye Esbah, Edward Allen Cook, Serif Hepcan, Baris Kara, Bulent Deniz ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS: POTENTIAL OF AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES 1 INTRODUCTION The importance of ecological networks in sustainable resource planning and management is increasing. Agricultural landscapes could be an indispensable element of ecological networks due to their ecological, economic and social values. Agricultural landscapes are important biodiversity areas, and ecological networks can significantly contribute to the biodiversity in these areas. The promotion of ecological networks and corridors are perceived as efficient nature protection policy instruments in Europe and all around the world. Great numbers of initiatives has been taken in this regard (The Pan- European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy, Pan–European Ecological Network – PEEN, the EU Habitats Directive, the Birds Directive, and the EU Biodiversity Action Plan for Agriculture). On the contrary, the number of initiations and scientific research is limited in Turkey. Also, no research exists on ecological networks in agricultural areas in the nation. Turkeys’ institutional environment lacks legislations related to the protection of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. These areas, without any conservation status, are not considered potential areas for biodiversity and nature protection. Agricultural landscapes are not manifested in the legislation of related agencies as tools for the protection of biodiversity. The purpose of this study is to investigate the structure of agricultural landscapes from an ecological network planning point of view. Specifically, the goal of this case study of Big Meander (Soke) Plain is to identify possible core areas and corridors based on geomorphology, cultural and natural disturbance regime, and protection status. Assessment of general site characteristics is vital in establishing networks in agricultural landscapes, as they can influence the kinds of species that use the network, as well as the long term viability of corridors and the communities that depend on them. Located in the Aydin Province, the study area, Soke Plain, is one of the prominent agricultural areas of Turkey (Figure 1). SOKE PLA Figure 1: Study area Soke Plain lays in between two important legally protected areas, Dilek Peninsula-Big Meander Delta (DYBMD) National Park and Bafa Lake Nature Park. Accordingly, the establishment of an ecological network in the agricultural landscape can contribute to the sustainable protection of the neighboring ecologically important areas. 81 Istanbu TURKE STUDY AREA NAT. PARK NATURE PARK STUDY ARE MAJOR ROADS MEANDER

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