Write:Nazmiye Karadağ -Photo: Hamigt Yalçın
Aptly named, because of being the hunting ground of the Sultans during the Ottoman Period, Sultans’ Reeds is situated at the bottom of Develi Flats, southwest of Mount Erciyes. Having both a freshwater and a saltwater ecosystem, the Reeds has specific characteristics.
Despite the semi-arid weather belt it is located in, Turkey has innumerous wetlands. Yet, how aware are we of these areas that surround us? Some of these areas have been dried in order to provide lands for cultivation, some are due to turn into deserts.
The documentation “On the Route of the Winged World,” produced under the supervisation of Coşkun Aral, has focused on wetlands. In this documentation, Kayseri’s Sultans’ Reeds’ past and present day were explained. The rights and wrongs in the region were searched. The result? It became a story of beliefs and efforts, only spoken of and filmed.
LAND OF THE SULTANS
Aptly named, because of being the hunting ground of the Sultans during the Ottoman Period, Sultans’ Reeds is situated at the bottom of the Develi Flats, Southwest of Mount Erciyes. The area which covers Yay, Camız, Söbe and Çöl lakes on the flats is named the Sultans’ Reeds.
Having both a freshwater and a saltwater ecosystem, the Reeds has specific characteristics. However, this distinct geography in the middle of Anatolia is due to dry out. In the past, the Reeds was faced with the danger of drying out, many times. Today though, a cry of resistance rises from the Reeds.
The plans for drying out the Reeds were initiated in the 1960’s. The reason behind the plans was malaria, which was claimed to have spread from the Reeds. However, during the following years, the other side of the coin was seen. It was realized that the region was both a source of income and a source of life. With the dams starting to operate in 1990 and 1991, it dried out completely. The Reeds is one of the four lands included in the Administration of the Protected Areas Program within the frame of the GEF Project, by the World Bank. The area was declared as “Natural Protection Area” in 1988 and as “National Park” in 2006, according to the cabinet decision taken the same year.
With its suitable nature and weather conditions, the area served as a protection, feeding and breeding basin for the birds for several years. Two of the major migrating routes between Europe, Asia and Africa intersected here. With 301 varieties of birds nestled here, Sultans’ Reeds, which is the second biggest wetland after the Manyas Birds’ Paradise, at the moment, is completely dry, with all the water fed into the wetland kept by the dams and the surface water discharged outside the basin.
The log book of the story going towards quiet resistance by the Sultans’ Reeds is full of ironies. As a matter of fact, the region is a natural resource with the highest number protection status. The efforts for revival of the Sultans’ Reeds have been going on for several years. However, the reality is, drying out the area has been increasing proportionally with an increasing degree of protection. Well, how far have the protection plans been implemented so far?
RESISTANCE OF THE REEDS
Sultans’ Reeds is under threat of desertification, and this threat has reached considerable levels in the past ten years. The waters from Soysallı springs, as well as Çayırözü and Karaboğa sources are fed to the Reeds during the winter months. However, with the start of the irrigation season, these waters are used by the locals for irrigating their cultivated lands. This cuts off the water supply to the Reeds. Protections taken in one hand, irresponsibility of the people towards the environment that they live in, in the other. However, despite all, the existing situation is rather hopeful. The main reason behind this hope is the lake inside the Reeds having a source of water.
Today’s world is facing a serious threat of desertification. As the wetlands continue to disappear, this threat becomes more apparent. The universe is sending alarming signals. The ecosystem is in constant change. Human beings are the major cause of this change. Other living things, on the other hand, accept their fate in a world structured by human beings. As the universal change affects the world, it also threatens our future and the following generations. Sultans’ Reeds look for support and understanding from everyone in its quiet resistance.