Technical Assistance for the Implementation of Natura 2000 Requirements in Turkey

Technical Assistance for the Implementation of Natura 2000 Requirements in Turkey

Source of funding

European Commission

Name of client/donor

Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs

Overall project value

EUR 760,130


September 2015 – September 2018

Beneficiary countries


Number of staff


Turkey is an extraordinarily rich country in terms of biodiversity. It owes its ecosystem, habitat and species diversity to the unique features of its geographical location. The country forms a bridge between three regions of the world (Europe, Asia and the Middle East); it is surrounded by four seas (the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean); it is located at the crossroads of three biodiversity hotspots (Caucasus, Irano-Anatolian and Mediterranean), which correspond to three major bio-geographical regions (Euro-Siberian, Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian) and phyto-geographical regions (Black Sea, Mediterranean and Anatolian); and, finally, it lies at the intersection of two gene centres (Mediterranean and Near Eastern) and two major bird migration routes.

The Anatolian steppes, the project’s pilot area, originally covered two-thirds of Turkey and are the richest terrestrial ecosystems in the country in terms of plant species, yet they are largely ignored in favour of forests, both in the protected area network and as a target of conservation organisations. Protected areas represent only 6 percent of the total surface area of the country, and the steppes are not included among them. Without protection, the area is vulnerable to the general trend of overgrazing and conversion into arable land or planted forests. As a result, the steppes are one of the most damaged habitats in Turkey.

The project aims to support the conservation of Turkey’s immense biodiversity and habitats and harmonise Turkey’s nature protection policy with the EU environmental acquis. Project activities will focus on the Anatolian Biogeographical pilot region, which is a new biogeographical region for the Natura 2000 network.

The goals of the project are to:

  • identify species and habitats existing in Turkey that are listed in the annexes to the EU Birds and Habitats Directives;
  • develop a new methodology for the selection of Natura 2000 sites by harmonising Turkey’s Systematic Conservation Planning approach (a method for defining potential protected areas) with the Natura 2000 approach;
  • designate potential Natura 2000 sites in the pilot areas of the project (Central Anatolia and its surroundings) and in line with this method;
  • establish a new database in compliance with other biodiversity databases in EU member states for Natura 2000 sites; and
  • increase institutional capacity in the field of Natura 2000.

The beneficiary of this project is the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs. The General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks under the ministry is in charge of the coordination and execution of the project. The Information Technologies Department within the same ministry is responsible for IT activities.

The General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks is responsible for the conservation of biodiversity and activities for the management of protected areas, as well as the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directive (Natura 2000) in Turkey. The project will support the General Directorate in this effort.

The key project issues identified are:

  • the definition of a new biogeographical region as a pilot area (Central Anatolia);
  • the integration of Turkey’s Systematic Conservation Planning methods with EU practice for Natura 2000 site designation; and
  • ways to interlink the future Turkish Natura 2000 database with the existing biodiversity website (Noah’s Ark).
  • Phase 1: Establishing a technical structure for the designation of Natura 2000 sites in Turkey
  • Phase 2: Developing Turkey’s IT infrastructure to meet the requirements of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives
  • Phase 3: Building institutional capacity regarding the Natura 2000 concept in Turkey.

Project activities are described in detail in the project leaflet

  • Capacity building
  • Awareness raising
  • Technical support
  • IT development