Mapping Landuse Impacts on Bezoar Goat (Capra aegagrus) Habitats in Firtina Basin, Turkey

Mapping Landuse Impacts on Bezoar Goat (Capra aegagrus) Habitats in Firtina Basin, Turkey

Ercan Sütlü (WWF, Turkey), Basak Avcioglu (WWF, Turkey), Mustafa Özgür Berke (WWF, Turkey) and Engin Gem (TUBITAK, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2824-3.ch017
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WWF-Turkey implemented two different case studies in regions which have different ecosystems and socio-economic characteristics. The first case study was conducted in Firtina Basin in a northeastern part of Turkey which is dominated by forest and where tea cultivation and tourism are the main income generation activities. The case study in Firtina Basin was focused on conservation of the bezoar goat (Capra aegagrus) population in partnership with local stakeholders and the mapping created high interest among participants.
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The Fırtına Basin is situated on the northern skirts of the Eastern Black Sea mountain range which is the backbone of the West Lesser Caucasus corridor in Turkey (See Figure 1). The valley is formed around Fırtına River and its two main branches that carry the chilly waters of the Kaçkar Mountains down to the Black Sea. It is a typical example of a number of rapid flowing river systems along the Black Sea coast, which run in parallel towards the sea. The slopes of Fırtına Basin are among the steepest on earth (See Figure 2), reaching up to 3,992 m from sea level within 45 km. The average annual precipitation is fairly high (over 2,000 mm) and the higher altitudes are covered by wet clouds most of the time.

Figure 1.

Location of Fırtına Basin in Turkey (copyright Google)

Figure 2.

The topography of Fırtına Basin (copyright Google)

Fırtına Basin is one of the 9 Forest Hot Spots which was defined by WWF in Turkey. It has pristine temperate rain forests of the Caucasus Ecoregion with high biodiversity in flora and fauna. The Valley also includes one of the largest national parks, the Kaçkar Mountains National Park. Bezoar goat is one of the focal species defined in the Caucasus Ecoregion with an outstanding population in Fırtına Basin. However it is endangered due to poaching and habitat loss to infrastructure, tourism and agriculture. Populations which previously lost habitat are now in restricted areas open to disturbance and access by poachers. There is also mismanagement of trophy hunting of the species by central and local authorities.

The Socio-Economic Project

The main economic activity in Fırtına Basin is tea cultivation in the semi tropical rainy conditions of the lower hills and plains. This is a traditional agricultural activity, in areas gained from clear cutting of forest in the past. Cattle breeding is the second most important economic activity, in the alpine zone, especially with seasonal hay cutting. Although the scale of agriculture is small, the main impact on natural resources is pollution in freshwaters (especially rivers) from pesticides used in tea and hay cultivation, and habitat fragmentation. Another fast-growing economic activitiy is tourism, which also has a high impact on ecosystems and species from unplanned tourism infrastructure, including facilities and roads. .

The pressure on natural ecosystems and species in Fırtına Basin is increasing. For the conservation of its natural values, the aim of the case study in Fırtına Basin was to guide local NGOs and authorities in monitoring and managing game species. Although there are maps and species data, capacity to use them in monitoring and management is very limited. Another contribution was planned to increase awareness of the local people on how unplanned tourism activities and human intervention within natural ecosystems have negative impacts on wildlife and habitats. It is especially aimed to illustrate the enlargement of settlements and road networks within this fragile system.


The case study was formulated for implementation in cooperation with local municipalities, local non-governmental organizations and villagers of the basin. Among three different municipalities, the one in the core of the forest ecosystem and with high tourism income was selected. The methodology involved; data collection on socio-economical structure, definition of local partners, completion of questionnaires and meetings with local stakeholders on mapping to show the extent and impact of tourism and settlement development (See Figure 3).

Figure 3.

Mapping landuse in Fırtına Basin (copyright Google)

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