Turkey, Lake Seyfe dry

Turkey’s Lake Seyfe tragedy: from bird sanctuary to desert

One of the most important wetlands in Turkey, Lake Seyfe was home to 187 species of birds, 27 of which were endangered. Today, it is dry.

Turkey’s Lake Seyfe, located in the Anatolian province of Kırşehir and considered one of the most important wetlands not only in Turkey, but in the world (it is included in the Ramsar list), has dried up completely as a result of the drought caused by climate change and the overexploitation of its aquifers.

With an original area of ​​about 10,700 hectares, this lake was once home to 187 different species of birds, 27 of them in danger of extinction, including cranes, ducks and flamingos; but Lake Seyfe has remained completely dry since last July due to the extreme temperatures suffered this summer: a situation that has been repeated in recent years, and that many experts have been denouncing.

The level of the lake drops in the summer months due to the lack of rainfall and because the main sources that feed it dry up, becoming a salt wasteland, and it comes back to life with the winter snowfalls and the spring rains. Historically, the lake still maintained minimal water levels; but in the last two decades the lake has been losing more and more water, until reaching the current situation.

“We used to see water and birds in the lake”

“Before we could see water and birds in the lake… Now, it is in a deplorable state. Seyfe Lake is dry. We want the authorities to find a solution as soon as possible. It is something very valuable for Kırşehir, a lot of tourists used to come here,” says Esma Koç, who has lived in Kırşehir for 10 years.

Professor Sultan Kıymaz, from the Faculty of Agriculture at Kırşehir Ahi Evran University, confirms that the water level of Lake Seyfe has been below normal since 1998 due to drought. “In our studies carried out in the Seyfe basin, we see that the water level in the lake drops dramatically, especially from June to December, due to the use of wells to extract water for human consumption and for agriculture,” he explains.

“What is happening here is intense pressure on water resources. The underground aquifers are not controlled, they are used uncontrollably and unconsciously”, adds the professor, who insists that the water sources that feed Lake Seyfe in Turkey should be protected. “Before, there were the springs of Seyfe, Horla, Yenidoganlı and Malya, which fed the lake,” he recalls. Springs that, today, are completely dry.