Kars-Iğdır Biodiversity Project (KIBP) covers Kars and neighbouring cities (Ağrı, Ardahan and Iğdır), which are some of the richest and threatened natural environments of Turkey. Kars is located at the north-eastern corner of Anatolia where the Iran-Anatolian and Caucasus biodiversity hotspots (34 on the entire planet) meet. Additionally north-eastern part of Turkey contains 11 important plant areas, 13 important bird areas and 22 key biodiversity areas. Although this region harbours some of the most important ecosystems of Turkey, its unique nature is degrading rapidly and locals are encountering environmental problems like erosion, flood, pollution and disappearance of useful plants.
We chose Kars as a project centre because one of the important universities of the region is situated in Kars, the project is conducted in collaboration with Kafkas Universitiy students and teachers, and Kafkas University, Kars governate, and Kars Municipality have been interested in our project since 2003. Besides Kafkas University, Kars governate, and Kars Municipality, Kars and Iğdır Environment and Forestry bureaus have also helped our project at many stages. Yukarı Çıyrıklı village in Iğdır-Tuzluca and Kuyucuk village in Kars-Arpacay have shown us great hospitality for months during our bird banding research. We thank all of our partners and volunteers for their support.
Biodiversity is the part of nature that comprises living species. A biodiversity hotspot has many living species and many of these species do not exist at other places. Three of the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots, Mediterranean, Iran-Anatolian and Caucasus, cover almost all of Turkey, the only country in the world to have this distinction. There are only five countries (China, Kenya, South Africa, USA, Turkey) in the world that contain more than two "hot spots" and Turkey is the only country that has the majority of its land mass covered by three biodiversity hotspots.
Our sub-projects, listed below, are founded on environmental education and conservation, and they integrate scientific, socio-economic and artistic elements:
- Bird monitoring, conservation, and education project
- Large carnivores project
- Wetland conservation and restoration project
- Useful plants (Ethnobotany) project
- Kafkas University Nature Park
- Scientific illustration courses
- Nature tourism (ecotourism)
Kars biodiversity project is based on the principle that education, scientific research, conservation and sustainable development should be accomplished simultaneously. Biodiversity research leads to environmental consciousness, environmental consciousness leads to conservation, and conservation makes ecotourism and other sustainable development efforts possible. It's is not a coincidence that the countries which are the best in nature conservation are also the countries that value science and education most.