Water and Mountains
Development of Public Participation and Improvement of Socio-Economic Prosperity in Mountain Communities: Yuntdagi Model, Turkey
Project symbol: TCP/TUR/3102; TCP/TUR/3203
More than two-thirds of Turkey’s territory consists of mountain ecosystems, with rugged topography and very deep valleys in some regions. The mountains of Turkey play a central role in collecting and storing the freshwater that connects mountain and lowland communities. Sustainable management of natural resources in mountain regions, using close-to-nature approaches, is therefore key to the improvement of water resources, energy and tourism potentials, and essential for the well-being of the people who live in mountain areas. Moreover, most mountains and uplands are covered by forests and alpine grasslands, which ensure an environment conducive to growth of related sectors such as agriculture, water resources, tourism and wood-based industries.
Photo © Thomas Hofer/ FAO
In the Bolu workshop, held during the International Year of Mountains (IYM) 2002, the need for long-term interventions in sustainable mountain development was identified. The Government of Turkey has implemented these recommendations and has undertaken a number of steps related to international processes and cooperation.
The Government of Turkey requested FAO’s assistance, through its TCP, in addressing the urgent problems in mountain areas. The development objective of the project was to help the Government of Turkey to implement sustainable development in mountain areas and improve the livelihoods of rural mountain people through the establishment of viable and area-specific income-generating activities. The project, which ran from January 2008 to December 2010, was carried out at two levels with the following immediate objectives:
The field component of the project provided the entry point for capacity and institution building at the national level. Yuntagi mountains, in southeastern Anatolia, were selected as the project pilot site. This area is part of the western mountain ranges of Turkey and covers 852 km2. Ranging from 200 to 1 100 m above sea level, this highland area has a complex, heterogeneous topography with small to medium-sized inter-montane depressions, steep slopes, and small watersheds and sub-watersheds that discharge through three main river systems into the Aegean Sea. These topographic characteristics have created a variety of agro-ecological zones, traditional livelihood practices and cultural diversity. While crop production is located mainly in the inter-montane depressions, most pasture and forest land is found on the slopes. The total population of the 61 settlements is about 23 000 people in about 6 700 households, most of them are forest-dependent communities. Economic conditions are poor, and livelihoods depend mainly on crop production, livestock and forest resources. Women practise carpet weaving as an income-generating activity.
The Yuntdagi mountains are affected by problems that are typical of most Turkish mountain regions and that include: soil degradation and desertification, forest and rangeland degradation, limited agricultural productivity, streams with seasonal flow, no tradition of agroforestry, lack of access to markets, low living standards, and unemployment and emigration. The project area provided excellent conditions for dealing with this complex situation and learning from experience.
The national component of the project was built on progress made at the pilot site. Information sharing and capacity building events were organized, addressing the government and civil society institutions that participated in IYM activities and the subsequent mountain process. Specific national-level project outputs included the establishment of a permanent institutional mechanism for implementation of sustainable mountain development, and the formulation of a draft strategic document on sustainable mountain development.