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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 2 MAIN CHARACTERISTICS Study area contains mountainous, hilly, and flat physiographic formations (Figure 2). The conglomerations of alluvial sediments brought by hydrological flows and surface run off has filled the Menderes graben and formed the Big Meander Delta and Soke plain where the topography ranges between 1m. at the delta, to 8-10 m. in inner areas of the Soke plain. Two mountain series make contrast to the plain: Samsun Mountains on the north, and Menteşe Mountains on the south. Numbers of legally protected areas are located on the north, south and west of the study area. These areas are internationally recognized for their high biodiversity, and constitute core areas of this study. 2.1 Core areas Potential core areas of the study include Dilek Peninsula, Big Meander Delta, Bafa Lake and Azap Lake. Dilek Dagi Mountain stretches towards the Aegean Sea and rises to 1237 m. There exist significant temperature differences between the south and north sides of the peninsula. This means that plants belonging to no less than four different regions are to be found in close proximity here. As well as typical Aegean vegetation there are many plants normally more at home in the Mediterranean, Marmara and Black Sea regions. Red pine, Phoenician juniper, sumac, a variety of wild pear, myrtle, cornelian cherry, oak, chestnut, linden, ash, and many more species coexist here. The area was declared as a national park in 1966. The national park covers an area of 10985 ha. and is a European Flora Biogenetic Reserve. The Big Meander Delta, south of the peninsula, is a vast wetland of international importance for wildlife. With its marshes and lagoons, the Menderes Delta is said to have taken 23 million years to form. In the delta, flamingos and 208 others species of birds are to be seen at different times of year. Of these, 76 species breed here. The delta’s Karine, Kocagöl and Kabahayit lagoons are divided from the sea by narrow sand banks. Fresh and salt water mingle in the lagoons, which therefore exhibit extraordinary biological diversity. Due to its high biodiversity the area is declared as a national park in 1994. Covering an area of 16690 ha., The delta of Big Meander River has international importance and protected by international agreements due to its endemic species and biologic richness. Bafa Lake was one of the busiest bays of the Aegean Sea (Gulf of Lade) in the 7th century B.C. The sediments brought by the Big Meander River slowly separated the bay from the Aegean sea by the 1 st century A.C. The lake is 6721.5 ha. and its altitude is 2m above sea level (maximum 25m depth). The lake is primarily fed by the floods from the Big Meander River. In 1994, the lake and its surrounding was declared as a nature park (12281 ha.). Bafa Lake Nature Park consists of 325 plant species belonging to 80 families. Among these, 16 of them are endemics. In terms of the fauna, 295 vertebrate species are in the protected species list of various international treaties. The area is rich in bird species due to its location on the major bird routes: 260 water bird species are detected in the park [1]. The area is a wintering site for Great crested grebe, Black neck grebe, Dalmatian pelican, Pochard, and Eurasian coot [2]. The Dalmatian pelican that is represented by only 2000 individuals all around the world has the world’s third largest colony in the adjacent Big Meander River corridor and utilizes Bafa Lake for food. Azap Lake is an important wetland. Bird species coming to Big Meander and Bafa Lake area also utilizes this lake. The lake does not have any protection status and is becoming smaller in area year by year. 82

Hayriye Esbah, Edward Allen Cook, Serif Hepcan, Baris Kara, Bulent Deniz ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS: POTENTIAL OF AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES 2.2 Corridor types There exist three types of corridors in the study area: natural corridors, semi natural corridors and infrastructure corridors. Big Meander traverses the Soke Plain and forms the most important ecological corridor in the agricultural landscape. Other natural corridor types include remnant meander parts and seasonal creeks (Figure 3). The Big Meander River rises in west central Turkey near Usak before flowing west through the Big Meander graben until reaching the Aegean Sea (548km). Its depth equals its breadth in most parts. Meanders are most often formed in alluvial materials (stream-deposited sediments) and thus freely adjust their shapes and shift downstream according to the slope of the alluvial valley. Figure 2: Vegetation characteristics along Big Meander corridor (left); meanders (center); and small creeks (right) Semi natural corridors mainly include narrow uncultivated strips between agricultural plots (Figure 2). Vegetation in these corridors is mostly herbaceous. Unlike examples from other countries in Europe and America, the agricultural landscape lacks in hedgerows and planted windbreaks in the Soke Plain. The rare occurrence of such corridors displays a discontinuous structure. Figure 3: Semi natural corridors with herbaceous plants (left); discontinuous hedgerows (center), planted windbreaks (right) Infrastructure corridors pass through substantial amount of landscapes, therefore those corridors such as roads, drainage and irrigation canals provide considerable opportunities for green network formation in the study area (Figure 3). Road corridors can be divided into major road corridors and dirt road corridors. Canals can be divided into irrigation and drainage canals. Each infrastructure corridor has its own vegetation characteristics and structure, hence adapted by different animal species at some certain degree. 83

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