Tuzluca Dam, Turkey

Aras River Bird Sanctuary, which hosts the highest number of bird species in eastern Turkey, is under threat of destruction and will not exist in maps anymore. If the planned Tuzluca Dam is constructed in Aras Valley, the area with 49 bird species


Tuzluca Dam is planned to be constructed at Tuzluca Province of Iğdır city. The Company Bernak Elektrik, who previously won the tender, later withdraw from the project since the profit margin was very low (2.5%). Following that, State Hydraulic Works (DSI) announced that it will construct the dam itself. Thus, the dam is going to be built using tax money. Currently, the construction work is subcontracted to U-Y-S İnşaat.  DSI tries to win public approval emphasizing that the project is an irrigation dam. However, in order to irrigate the low fertility land with wild irrigation methods, higher fertility agricultural land and fruit orchards nearby Aras River will be submerged.  The 45 meters high dam will be constructed 100 meters to Armenian border. 12 km2 of area in Halikisla Village, entire Aras River Bird Sanctuary and 5 villages that hosts 2000 people and their agricultural land will submerge. These people will be displaced.   Aras River Bird Sanctuary, which hosts the highest number of bird species in eastern Turkey, is under threat of destruction and will not exist in maps anymore.

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Basic Data
NameTuzluca Dam, Turkey
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local 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 CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIf the planned Tuzluca Dam is constructed in Aras Valley, the area in which 249 bird species live, feed and breed will submerge. If the Tuzluca dam is constructed in the Aras Valley, the feeding, breeding and wintering areas for at least 264 bird species and 109 mammal, reptile and amphibian species will be destroyed. This includes 34 vertebrate animal species threatened or near threatened with extinction. Half of all vertebrate land animal species in Turkey has been recorded here. Birds ringed (banded) and satellite-tracked at this wetland by KuzeyDoğa Association were recorded to migrate to and from three continents and dozens of countries, including Cyprus, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and Zambia.
Level of Investment (in USD)30,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population2000
Start Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesU-Y-S İnşaat Turizm Elektrik Telekomünikasyon İletişim Nakliye San. ve Tic. AŞ. (U-Y-S) from Turkey
Relevant government actorsState Hydraulic Works (Devlet Su İşleri)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersKuzeyDoga Society
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local scientists/professionals
Students, Villagers
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherPotential Income Loss
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesThe project should be stopped and the area should be declared a protection zone, a natural park. If the area can be conserved as it is, the park can be a good attraction for birdwatchers from all around the world. There is a huge potential for eco-tourism.

Furthermore, as Aras River passes across Iğdır city, instead of building a large dam, taking water directly from the river and using drip irrigation methods would not only prevent the destruction of these areas through dam construction, but it also is a much more efficient method.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The issue has been covered in press regularly and the awareness level of the local villagers has become higher. Some of the villagers, who were proponents of the projects earlier, changed their minds after the media campaign run by Kuzeydoga Society. The campaign managed to publish the issue in several national and local news outlets, even on TVs. Yet the project is not yet shelved and the EIA report is completed with a positive outcome.
Sources and Materials


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The online petition campaign on Change.org
[click to view]

He reached for the birds in Aras River from US (Aras Nehri'ndeki kuşlara ABD'den el uzattı) - in Turkish
[click to view]

Media Links

Do not destroy Aras River bird paradise - Campaign Video on Youtube
[click to view]

Other Documents

Tuzluca Dam Signpost for the dam
[click to view]

Tuzluca Dam The wetlands seen from above
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorBogazici University on behalf of Lale Aktay (Kuzey Doga Society)
Last update02/01/2017