- Turkey -
Photo: © Helio & Van Ingen
Gediz Delta was designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) under the Ramsar Convention on 15 April 1998.
Gediz Delta is an extensive wetland system formed on the western coast of İzmir Bay, where Gediz River meets with the Aegean Sea. There are public and private areas. The area within the boundaries of the buffer zone comprises settlements, agricultural lands, military zones, treatment facilities and industrial establishments besides the wetland ecosystems. An 8,000-ha part of Gediz Delta had been designated as a wildlife protection area in 1982 and started to be mentioned as İzmir Bird Paradise thanks to the high number and variety of birds. It was designated as a Ramsar Site in 1998. Gediz Delta Ramsar Site meets 4 (criteria2,3,4,5) internationally important wetland criteria out of 9.
The delta comprises four different habitats such as salt water ecosystems (salines), freshwater ecosystems (reedbeds), meadows and heights. It consists of numerous habitats such as lagoons, reedbeds, salines, fresh and salt water marshes, salt meadows, seasonally flooded meadows, alluvial islets, agriculture lands and Mediterranean shrublands. The Gediz Delta wetland ecosystem – from north to south – is basically formed by Kırdeniz and Homa Lagoons, Çamaltı Saline, Çilazmak and Ragıppaşa Lagoons as well as fresh and salt water meadows of Northern Gediz Delta. Moreover, the reed beds, located in the north and fed by freshwater, are highly important in terms of biological diversity.
Flora of the site consists of mostly annual herbaceous plants, herbaceous perennials at a lower level as well as ligneous plants. Dominated by halophytes, the site supports 306 species under 206 genera of 60 families; while Homa Lagoon supports 63 phytoplankton species. The site supports 20 fish species in lagoons, freshwater sources and reed beds, such as seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), seabream (Sparus aurata) and gray mullet (Mugil cephalus). Among wild animals in Gediz Delta, birds have a highly significant place. The delta is one of the sites with the highest bird variety. According to studies and observations, so far 218 bird species have been recorded in the site.
Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni), and Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis).
Agriculture and livestock are the largest sectors in Gediz Delta in terms of economic activities, and also industrial facilities are continuously increasing and posing a factor of pressure for the area. Another important economic activity of the deltas is salt production. The Salina provides approximately 30% of Turkey’s need, with an annual capacity of around 600.000 tons.
Agriculture is the foremost economic activity of the work force that inhabits the deltas, as 45% of the work force is employed in the agriculture sector. Cotton, wool, wheat and corn are the leading products grown in the deltas. Menemen county presents a rich portrait in terms of fruit production.
One of the remarkable economic input components is livestock production activities that are particularly widespread in Seyrek-Süzbeyli regions. Livestock production activities are scarce in Menemen Plain and its surroundings, covering a limited area of 8.045 ha. Small ruminants dominate the livestock production, while cattle and poultry animals are also raised. Sheep, goat and cattle are the most widespread livestock. Livestock farming is also done.
Marine products are harvested in Homa and Kırdeniz lagoons. Seamullet, lidaki, tongue fish and sea bass are fished in Homa lagoon between June and December.
Water has always been the main factor to determine settlement quarters for many civilizations. By virtue of its water and fertile lands, Gediz Delta has been home to three different civilizations in its history. Leukai antique city was founded by a Persian admiral in 352 BC in Üçtepeler location. The lower parts of Panaztepe antique city located in Taşlı Tepeler near Maltepe Town dates back to the early 2000s BC, whereas the upper part of the city was founded in the second half of the 2000s BC.
Facilities in the site are a visitor center which has a small conference room, a coffee and toilet, bird watching towers in different important parts of the site, and walk paths.
Gediz Delta is one of the important touristic places of Izmir. Forty thousand tourists visit the delta every year.Also there is a natural life park (zoo) near the delta. The fact that two recreation areas are side by side increases the tourism potential of the region. Also every year the Provincial Authority of Nature Conservation and National Parks organizes educational seminars about nature for secondary school students. Many newly married couples choose the delta for their photo albums, and this is also an interesting and increasing activity at the Delta. Besides this, Gediz Delta is a monitoring area for midwinter waterbird counting activities.
Conservation zones of Gediz Delta have been determined and declared in 2007. For twelve years the activities in the delta have been controlled by G.D.
The main threat is urbanization for management challenges of Delta. Gediz Delta is located within the borders of Izmir Province where the third most crowded city of Turkey is located. New settlements and increasing population have a negative pressure on the wetland ecosystem.
The management plan of Gediz Delta was approved in 2007 and revised in 2016. It has been implemented for 13 years.
Latest updates of these informations: Mars 2020