Ministry to privatize flamingo haven of Gediz Delta salt marshes

The government has moved to privatize the salt marshes at the natural reserve of the Gediz Delta, one of the most important sites for the breeding of flamingoes, in the latest controversial attempt to privatize an environmentally protected area.

In a written response to a parliamentary question from an opposition lawmaker, Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu said the cession of the salt marshes facilities to private investors would not negatively affect the environment.

The Gediz Delta near Ä°zmir is one of the wetlands threatened due to intense construction activities in its surrounding area, despite being a natural protected area.

Eroğlu stated in his answer that all companies that will acquire the rights to run the facilities following a tender by the Prime Ministry’s privatization administration must adhere to the official regulations on the protection of wetlands.

However, these regulations have recently drawn controversy after a group of municipalities on the Aegean coast recently sued the Forestry Ministry, claiming that eight of the articles that are part of the regulation could pave the way to construction in the wetlands.

Along with the Gediz Delta, another flamingo haven, the Lake Tuz in Central Anatolia, has also witnessed huge environmental damage due to overexploitation of the area by salt companies.

Experts say the number of new flamingos born at the lake has dropped alarmingly and the lake could soon become a cemetery for its once-iconic animals, particularly if the current drought gets more severe.

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