An Ecological Assessment Analysis: The Kanlidere River in North Cyprus

An Ecological Assessment Analysis: The Kanlidere River in North Cyprus

Gökçen Firdevs Yücel (Istanbul Aydın University, Turkey), Bilge Işık (Istanbul Aydın University, Turkey) and Nevter Zafer Cömert (Eastern Mediterranean University, Northern Cyprus)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4186-8.ch017
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This chapter analyzes the case study of Kanlidere watershed in Cyprus to explore a potential “reintroducing” of the river to its surrounding residential communities (and, on a broader level, to society), in an effective protection and restoration approach of the environment. The Kanlidere (Pedios) is Cyprus' longest river where its watershed has considerable importance for the environmental sustainability of Northern Cyprus. There has been waste, vegetation, and other materials accumulated in the riverbed over many years of neglect, which led to thick vegetation growth and water pooling. This chapter examines the site in order to preserve its overall ecological health, facilitating the improvement of the communities in the future.
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Water is the most important resource shared by humankind; it is an indispensable yet limited resource, for which there are no alternatives. The estimated global increase in freshwater use was about 20% per decade between 1960 and 2000; this dropped to 10% during 2000-2010, reflecting changes in population growth rates, economic development, and improvements in water use efficiency (Hassan, Scholes, & Ash, 2005). Today, about 40% of the world’s population, in more than 140 countries, live or otherwise depend on shared watercourses (Salman, 2007), yet there is still no universal treaty in force to regulate their use and protection.

In some regions, such as the Middle East, South Asia, and Northern Africa, providing access to sufficient fresh water is becoming more problematic, and competition for control of this resource may pose threats to regional and global peace and security. The World Water Commission notes that “more than one-half of the world’s major rivers are being seriously depleted and polluted, with degrading and poisoning around the eco-systems, thus threatening the health and livelihood of people who depend upon them for irrigation, drinking, and industrial water.” (Serageldin, 2000). This problem will intensify as the requirements for food, drinking water, and water for economic development population that is estimated to increase by two billion by 2025.

Urban waterways are formed from the natural drainage lines followed by rainfall, runoff and groundwater discharge. They form an important connection between the environment and economy, recreation, and neighborhood identity in the community (Riley, 1997). Freshwater systems have an important role for drinking water, maintaining agriculture, and as a source of fish and other types of food products; these systems also serve for transportation, energy production and industrial processes (Speed et al., 2016). Nevertheless, rivers are continuously polluted by “industry, agriculture, and sewage; compromised by harmful land-use practices; and diverted to meet the demands of a growing and increasingly urban population. The success of any attempt to improve the ecological condition of streams in urban areas will largely depend on human attitudes and behaviors within the catchment areas, and there may be inherent conflicts between appreciation of urban streams and their protection” (Booth, 2005). Also, as Fischenich (2001, p.2) notes, “increased runoff from urbanization causes channels to erode and incise – diminishing habitat quality and threatening infrastructure. Changes in sediment load, flow regime, and boundary conditions associated with channelization and urbanization can disrupt stream equilibrium, resulting in rapid channel enlargement through the process of incision.”

Urban waterways offer many small opportunities, which, when taken together, provide a great opportunity to improve the quality of life, create a visually attractive environment, and bring substantial benefits for the community, such as an enhanced image which can lead to an increase of up to 20% in land values. They can be important for preserving local biodiversity and for rejuvenating declining urban areas. In addition, urban watercourses create an identity for a place, since each combination of landform, waterway, riverside building and bridge is unique; they also represent educational and recreational opportunities for children (Seffer et al., 2011; Bircumshaw, 1998).

The restoration of a river can dramatically transform an urban landscape when the waterway becomes a central feature. Also, the sight and sound of running water, as well as the feeling of proximity to nature, contribute to mental well-being by relieving anxiety and helping people to relax. In 2004, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, noted that many rivers had been degraded for centuries due to pollution and the impact of development, to the extent that some have even been encased in concrete or buried underground. River restoration offers a sustainable approach to managing urban rivers: it can improve water quality, solve flooding and pollution problems, ensure secure water supplies, and also enhance the natural environment for the vegetation and fauna (RESTORE, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Environmental Degradation: Depletion or destruction of a potentially renewable resource such as soil, grassland, forest, or wildlife by using it at a faster rate than it is naturally replenished. If such use continues, the resource can become nonrenewable on a human time scale or nonexistent (extinct).

River Ecology: The study of interrelationships of living organisms to one another and to river surroundings.

Watercourse: A watercourse is the full width and length, including the bed, banks, sides, and shoreline, or any part of a river, creek, stream, spring, brook, lake, pond, reservoir, canal, ditch, or other natural or artificial channel, open to the atmosphere, the primary function of which is the conveyance or containment of water whether the flow is continuous or not.

Ecological Health: The degree to which the integrity of the soil and ecological processes of ecosystems are sustained.

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