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Sultan Marshes Wetland, Turkey


Natural balance and hydrologic cycle at Sultan Marshes were destroyed due to the construction of dams, wells and drainage channels due to basin-wide irrigated farming support policies that started in Develi Basin in 1973. From the beginning of 2000s, the water quantity of the Sultan Marshes decreased dangerously because of the water-guzzling-products farming, agricultural irrigation, illegal well drilling, losses due to the existing irrigation techniques and less water flow to the marshlands due to the dams; as from 2003 marshlands have almost dried out. The effects on local people were unequal: while landowners adopted agricultural irrigation, loan use, base price, market support systems that were prioritized for the last 25 years, landless farmers who make their own living through reed and sedge cutting and animal husbandry on open pastures have lost their sources of income. Decrease in the amount and quality of reeds and poor quality animal production due to the dried pastures put these groups living at risk. On the other hand the loss of biodiversity and the drop in the bird species richness (for which the region was known) reached a serious level.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sultan Marshes Wetland, Turkey
State or province:Kayseri
Location of conflict:Yesilhisar and Develi districts (Sindelhoyuk town and Ovaciftlik, Yesilova, Yenihayat, Musahacili, Cayirozu, Soysalli villages)
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Live Animals
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Develi Irrigation Project is comprised of 3 dams (Akkoy, Agcasar and Kovali dams built in 1967, 1986 and 1987 respectively), 390 deep wells and wide-reaching drainage channels. According to official data, irrigation capacity of the project is 28.000 ha and irrigated agriculture area is 78.000 ha. The difference (approximately 1/3) comes from illegally drilled wells. The problem of illegal water use remains unsolved because of General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works reluctant policies about prosecuting and penalizing illegal well drillings. On the other hand, effects of the same support policy are reflected in the water quantity needed for the chosen products and inefficiency of the irrigation methods. According to 2003 data, 90% of the basin-wide irrigation is done through surface irrigation which causes 60-65% water loss. Water requirement of the plants produced in the basin is 398 million m3 per year.

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Project area:25000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:9,000 (local population, 2003 data)
Start of the conflict:1998
Relevant government actors:The General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works , (Central Office, Provincial Directorate of Kayseri, Regional Directorate of Kayseri), Provincial Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks - Kayseri, Provincial Directorate of Agriculture - Kayseri
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Nature Association (Doga Dernegi) (in 2008)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Fires, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of income, difficulties in access to water, loss of cultural heritage, loss of or damage on historical artifacts
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Currently the conflict is latent and no groups or local organisations work for environmental justice.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Gurer, I. (2004). 'Water Resources Management and Use in Develi Plain'.

Karabasa, S. (2002). 'Sultan Sazligi ve Saz Kesimi (Sultan Sazligi and Reed Cutting)'.

Ozesmi, U. (2002). 'Sultan Sazligi Reed Cutting Plan'. Erciyes University, Department of

Environmental Engineering, Kayseri.

Ozesmi, U., and Gurer, . (2003). 'Sultan Sazligi: Biodiversity and Natural Resources'

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Forestry General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks. (2007b). Sultan Sazligi National Park and

Ramsar Site Management Plan. Ankara: Republic of Turkey Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Sarkisla, A. (2002). 'Sultan Sazligi Tabiati Koruma Alani Sosyal Degerlendirme Raporu (Sultan Sazligi Protected Area Social Evaluation Report)'. Kayseri Provincial Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, Kayseri

Akbulut, B. (2011). 'State Hegemony and Sustainable Development: A Political Economy Analysis of Two Local Experiences in Turkey' Unpublished PhD dissertation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.

Report. Gazi University Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Department of Civil Engineering, Ankara.

Research Report, Ankara University, Ankara

Management Pilot Project in Turkey (GEF 2). In Assessment and Provision of Environmental Flows in Mediterranean Watercourses: Basic Concepts, Methodologies and Emerging Practice, Mediterranean Case Study. IUCN-The World Conservation Union. Retrieved from
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Photo gallery of the Kayseri City Governorate:
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Contributor:Bengi Akbulut
Last update08/04/2014
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