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Bafa Lake Nature Park, Turkey


Located in the southeast of Buyuk Menderes River Delta, Bafa Lake is a shallow lake whose deepest part is 21m. 12.281 ha Bafa Lake is in both Aydin and Mugla provinces. Feeding from Buyuk Menderes River, the Aegean Regions longest water course, Bafa Lake is an alluvial dam of low salinity. The lake was formed 2000-2300 years ago through silt carried by the Buyuk Menderes River disconnecting it from the Aegean Sea (Kasparek, 1988). As a result of Soke Plains rising from alluvial deposits the lakes level rose above the seas. Except for its Western and Northwestern sections, the lake is surrounded by mountains. From where the lake opens to the plain towards the West, it is reported that excess waters reach the Buyuk Menderes River through a 3-5 m wide and 3 km long channel (Balik and Ustaoglu, 1989).

marked the beginning of the ecological problems with the construction of a set with the intention of protecting Sercin Village from the Buyuk Menderes floods. The set has prevented Bafa Lake to be sufficiently fed from the river. This problem combined with pressure coming from village waste and fish seed production facilities around the lake resulted in the lakes pollution. Over the years, the lake had hosted both fresh water and marine fish species. However, due to the increase in salinity that has occurred in the lake, only salt tolerent species have maintained their existence. Analysis of the water samples in the past 2 years has shown that 98% of the aquatic phytoplankton consists only of Nodularia spumigena. Since ecological restoration works have not been carried out so far by the government, the lake is under environmental threat and there are local groups and NGOs who try to raise awareness regarding the deterioration of environmental quality of the lake and biodiversity loss.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Bafa Lake Nature Park, Turkey
State or province:Soke, Didim - Milas
Location of conflict:Aydin, Mugla
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Biological resources

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Set building on the river in 1985 to protect Sercin village from floods which prevented water flow to the lake. Continuous waste discharge from industries and imappropriate use of water for agriculture purposes culminated in problems of the Bafa lake.

Project area:12281
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:15000
Start of the conflict:2007
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs and its provincial branch divisions, Ege University, Suleyman Demirel University Egirdir Faculty of Water Products, Bafa Municipality.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:WWF Turkey, EKODOSD

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsLand and Water Poisoning
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Increase in violence and crime
Other socio-economic impactsDifficulties in access to water


Project StatusIn operation
Development of alternatives:In 2008, WWF-Turkey and a local NGO (EKODOSD) proposed a project to protect the ecosystem of the Bafa and revitalise water flow focusing on modern irrigation techniques and waste water treatment facilities. Another proposed alternative is the promotion of ecotourism.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Even though there are positive clauses about the environment and ecotourism in Bafa Lakes long term development plan, these have not been put into practice so far. On the contrary, each year tourism has gotten worse in the region due to low environmental quality and no law enforcement has been imposed to those responsible of the lakes pollution and deterioration.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

PhD dissertation (2012) Evaluating the impacts of top-down protected area governance on local livelihoods - The case of the Turkish village of Kapikiri:

LinksĀ to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Hurriyet Daily News:

Conference of EKODOSD (in Turkish):

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network


Meta information

Contributor:Bahattin Surucu on behalf of BOG
Last update08/04/2014