Undermining nature conservation legislation in times of a global crisis is contagious even to countries that remain unaffected by the economic downturn.
The draft law on biodiversity conservation which was prepared by the Turkish Government in 2003 within the context of a GEF supported project, recently re-surfaced. However, the new version of the “Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Law” is far from the aim its title declares. In fact, the draft law opens every protected area in Turkey – including threatened habitats – to development which would have disastrous consequences for the country’s globally important natural treasures.
Conservation NGOs have organised protests, together with health, education and human rights groups. Protesters demand from local and regional authorities not to consent to the draft law. A coalition of 106 NGOs formed the “Nature Law Watch Initiative”, which informs the national and international media and environmental activist groups on the progress of the draft law. An international petition, also posted at the “change.org” online petition platform, has thus far been signed by 50,000 people calling the Turkish Government for legislation that truly protects the country’s natural heritage.
At present, the parliamentary process is pending and NGOs, such as WWF Turkey, are scaling up their lobbying and campaigning efforts, in order to achieve vital improvements in the draft law.