Burdur, Turkey, 24 July 2009 - Lake Burdur is one of the lakes in Turkey that have been drying up quickly over the last 20 years. Doğa Derneği, the BirdLife Partner Designate for Turkey, recently drafted a sermon on the wise-use of water in an effort to reach out and connect with the community of Burdur on the importance of conserving their lake. The sermon, a collaborative effort between Doğa Derneği, Burdur’s Provincial Mufti and the Burdur Centre Ulu Mosque Imam Nuri Çınar was read during Friday prayers on the 24th of July.
Within the framework of the “Conserving Lake Burdur Project”, this initiative is being implemented by Doğa Derneği with support from the Wings Over Wetlands Project. It is estimated that through the sermon Doğa Derneği reached approximately 52,000 people across 1007 mosques in all the villages, towns, districts and provincial centre of Burdur. The first of its kind in Burdur, the sermon highlighted the responsibility of humans in protecting the environment and wildlife, saying:
“…Water is one of the countless blessings and a source of life for us as well as for all of Earth’s creatures. A world without it would be very terrifying and we should be grateful for being blessed with water. We should especially learn appropriate irrigation techniques and farming practices in line with our soil characteristics and implement them wisely. The proliferation of inappropriate irrigation methods in Turkey have led to serious problems such as water depletion, water degradation, draining issues and salinization.
Lake Burdur is in a closed basin and the only water source feeding it is precipitation. Nevertheless, Lake Burdur’s surface water is kept within a series of dams and ponds, and then used for intensive irrigation…”
According to experts, one of the most commonly used irrigation systems worldwide and most valued innovations in agriculture is drip irrigation. As it becomes more common in Turkey water degradation and depletion issues will decrease.
In the framework of the “Conserving Lake Burdur” Project started in 2007, Doğa Derneği is not only fighting to reverse the retreat of the lake, but is also aiming to make Turkey an example in the wise-use of water.
Lake Burdur is a Ramsar site of international importance and is one of the most valuable wetlands of Turkey that needs to be conserved. Lake Burdur is facing degradation pressure due to the unrestricted use of water resources which feeds the basin which is leading to its rapid retreat and a marked decrease in crop productivity and soil quality. Poor management of water resources continue to threaten the ecosystem’s balance, its ecological integrity and the species which depend on it.
Through the “Conserving Lake Burdur Project”, Doğa Derneği and its partners have been actively raising awareness about the lake’s importance in schools across Burdur and have trained 1524 farmers from 44 villages on the use of drip irrigation systems.
“As is true for most of the lakes in Turkey, the main problem for Lake Burdur is water management policies. In Turkey 75% of the usable water is being extracted for agriculture and most of this through wild irrigation. In the Burdur Basin, this ratio increases to roughly 90%. In order to identify and solve these problems, Doğa Derneği is working to exemplify this study and is aiming to achieve this with the collaboration of relevant organizations in Burdur”, says Lale Aktay, Project Manager at Doğa Derneği.