Environmental awareness programme at Lake Burdur Ramsar site takes off
Burdur, Turkey, 28 July 2009 - Well-known as one of the world’s most important wintering grounds for the globally-threatened White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala), the health of Lake Burdur has been negatively affected in recent years by pollution, urban development and unsustainable agricultural practices, leading to the drying up and degradation of the lake. Worryingly, there was also a relatively low level of environmental awareness among the local population of the natural and recreational values of this wetland habitat and the migratory bird species which depend on it. Thanks to the efforts of Doga Dernegi and the support of the Municipality of Burdur things are changing fast!
Recognising the low level of environmental awareness and the need to concentrate on future generations, a pilot project was launched this year across the Municipality of Burdur through the support of the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) project. Together with the Ministry of Education, local volunteers, bird watchers and teachers, Doga Dernegi created a special education programme tailored for children ages 6 through 14 years.
“This collaborative approach to conservation is crucial in helping the demonstration project deliver significant benefits, both for the community and the environment, in a place where critical habitat and bio-diversity are threatened. Human activity can either conserve or devastate our lake”, says Lale Aktay, Project Manager from Doga Dernegi.
Initially rolled-out in four elementary schools, the education programme includes an interactive set of games and other educational activities intended to foster an appreciation of wetland habitats and wetland-dependent species. The package includes an art exhibition featuring over 200 pictures, a poster, board game and a bird checklist.
“We are especially proud of the education bag we developed in conjunction with the education programme. The bag includes special awareness and educational materials such as a Lake Burdur board game, Lake Burdur species cards, a map of Lake Burdur and its surroundings, a teacher’s guide, and a white-headed duck story that explains the importance of wetlands and other waterbirds from a bird’s perspective” commented Lale Aktay.
The project has gained significant momentum and has been supported by the Ministry of Education. The programme will be extended to schools across the entire district of Burdur this academic year.
Hanife Göktaş, a student from İlyas Primary School in Burdur says, "If the lake vanishes, then our life is gone. We not only have to conserve Lake Burdur, but also tell everyone who does not know about it of its importance and its value”.