Skip to main content
Log in

Analysis of the Ramsar Convention’s Effectiveness on the Turkish Legislation and Judicial Decisions

Wetlands Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Cite this article


Turkey became a party to the Ramsar Convention in 1994 and has since made effective progress on the legislation and administration for the protection of wetlands. We assessed the provisions of the Ramsar Convention with Turkish legislation by using a five-points scoring chart. We determined that there is 64,7% compliance rate among the examined legislation. Of 156 countries, Turkey is one of the best in adapting international commitments to its own domestic laws. Ramsar Convention’s effectiveness on the judicial decisions was evaluated by analyzing 50 Council of State decisions from 1994 to 2020 in the terms of whether the Ramsar Convention was clearly referred or not. The rate of reference to the Ramsar Convention in judicial decisions is as low as 28%. However, in all the decisions that do refer to the Ramsar Convention, the court ruled in favor of the protection of the ecosystem. It has been determined that investment projects and changes in plans (zoning, landscaping, etc.) occupy an important place among the lawsuits. Considering the number of cases subject to litigation, we determined that wetlands, which have priority to be protected according to the Ramsar Convention, are among the places under pressure.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others

Data Availability

Not applicable.

Code Availability

Not applicable.


  1. Group A. Sites containing representative, rare or unique wetland types

    Criterion 1: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region.

    Group B. Sites of international importance for conserving biological diversity

    Criteria based on species and ecological communities. Criterion 2: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities. Criterion 3: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region. Criterion 4: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provides refuge during adverse conditions. Specific criteria based on water birds. Criterion 5: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 20,000 or more water birds. Criterion 6: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of water bird. Specific criteria based on fish. Criterion 7: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies, species or families, life-history stages, species interactions and/or populations that are representative of wetland benefits and/or values and thereby contributes to global biological diversity. Criterion 8: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks, either within the wetland or elsewhere, depend. Specific criterion based on other taxa. Criterion 9: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of wetland-dependent non-avian animal


  • Arı Y (2006) Ramsar sözleşmesi'nin doğa koruma yaklaşımına eleştirel bir bakış. Eastern Geographical Review (15), 275–302

  • Aydin Coşkun A, Gençay G (2011) Kyoto protocol and “deforestation”: a legal analysis on Turkish environment and forest legislation. Forest Policy and Economics 13(5):366–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bassi N, Kumar MD, Sharma A, Pardha-Saradhi P (2014) Status of wetlands in India: a review of extent, ecosystem benefits, threats and management strategies. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies 2:1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Batanjski V, Batrićević A, Purger D, Alegro A, Jovanović S, Joldžić V (2016) Critical legal and environmental view on the Ramsar convention in protection from invasive plant species: an example of the southern Pannonia region. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 16(6):833–848

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bennett G, Ligthart S (2001) The implementation of international nature conservation agreements in Europe: the case of the Netherlands. European Environment 11(3):140–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Çağatay A, Terzioğlu E, Ekmen İ, Erdoğan E (2013). Biyolojik Çeşitliliği İzleme ve Değerlendirme Raporu 2012 (pp. 103). Doğa Koruma ve Milli Parklar Genel Müdürlüğü, Ankara.

  • Davidson NC (2014) How much wetland has the world lost? Long-term and recent trends in global wetland area. Marine and Freshwater Research 65(10):934–941

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davidson NC (2018) Ramsar convention on wetlands: scope and implementation. In: The Wetland Book I:: Structure and function, management, and methods. Springer, Berlin, pp 451–458

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Davidson NC, Finlayson CM (2019) Updating global coastal wetland areas presented in Davidson and Finlayson (2018). Marine and Freshwater Research 70(8):1195–1200

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dıvrak BB, Ayas C, İş G, Beton D, Çakırığlu İ (2008) Türkiye’deki RAMSAR alanları değerlendirme raporu. WWF-Türkiye (Doğal Hayatı Koruma Vakfı), İstanbul

    Google Scholar 

  • Everard M (2018) Biodiversity in wetlands. In: Finlayson CM, Everard M, Irvine K, McInnes RJ, Middleton BA, van Dam AA et al (eds) The wetland book: I: structure and function, management, and methods. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, pp 1441–1444

    Google Scholar 

  • Farrier D, Tucker L (2000) Wise use of wetlands under the Ramsar convention: a challenge for meaningful implementation of international law. Journal of Environmental Law 12(1):21–42

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Finlayson C, Gardner RC (2020) Ten key issues from the global wetland outlook for decision makers. Marine and Freshwater Research 72:1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Finlayson C, Davies GT, Moomaw WR, Chmura G, Natali SM, Perry J et al (2019) The second warning to humanity–providing a context for wetland management and policy. Wetlands 39(1):1–5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fletcher S, Kawabe M, Rewhorn S (2011) Wetland conservation and sustainable coastal governance in Japan and England. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62(5):956–962.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fluet-Chouinard E, Stewart-Koster B, Davidson N, Max Finlayson C, McIntyre B, P. (2020) Reciprocal insights from global aquatic stressor maps and local reporting across the Ramsar wetland network. Ecological Indicators 109:105772.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gaget E, Le Viol I, Pavón-Jordán D, Cazalis V, Kerbiriou C, Jiguet F et al (2020) Assessing the effectiveness of the Ramsar convention in preserving wintering waterbirds in the Mediterranean. Biological Conservation 243:108485.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gardner RC, Finlayson C (2018) Global wetland outlook: state of the World’s wetlands and their services to people. In N. Dudley (Ed.). Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Gland, Switzerland, p 88 

  • Gençay G, Türker YÖ (2011) Yaban Hayvanlarının Korunması Konusunda Uluslararası Mevzuat İle Türk Mevzuatının Karşılaştırılması. In: 2023'e Doğru 1. Doğa ve Ormancılık Uluslararası Sempozyumu, Antalya. TMMOB Orman Mühendsileri Odası, Ankara, pp 289–296

    Google Scholar 

  • General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks (2019) Tabiatı Koruma Durum Raporu 2019 (pp. 40). General Directorate of Nature Conservationand National Parks, Ankara

    Google Scholar 

  • Gürer, İ., & Yıldız, F. E. (2008). Türkiye’nin sulak alan politikalarına genel bir bakış: Sultansazlığı sulak alanı örneği. TMMOB 2. Su Politikaları Kongresi, 335-345

  • (2021) About The Convention On Wetlands. Accessed 01.02.2021 2021

  • Jianwei C (2009) Ramsar convention and wetland conservation in China. Area Studies - China: Regional Sustainable Development Review (Vol. III, pp. 18)

  • Karadeniz N, Tırıl A, Baylan E (2009) Wetland management in Turkey: problems, achievements and perspectives. African Journal of Agricultural Research 4(11):1106–1119

    Google Scholar 

  • Küçük M, Ertürk E (2013) Biodiversity and protected areas in Turkey. Sains Malaysiana 42(10):1455–1460

    Google Scholar 

  • Mauerhofer V (2018) The law, ecosystem services and ecosystem functions: an in-depth overview of coverage and interrelation. Ecosystem Services 29:190–198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MEA (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being: current state and trends. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2019) Tarım ve Orman Bakanlığı GeoData Uygulaması. Accessed 18.02.2019 2019

  • Ministry of Environment (2001) The National Strategy and Action Plan for Biodiversity in Turkey. Ministry of Environment, Ankara, p 37

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of Environment and Forestry (2008) The national biological diversity strategy and action Plan 2007 V2. General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, Ankara , p 176

  • Ministry of Environment and Forestry (2011). Ulusal Biyolojik Çeşitlilik İzleme Raporu – 2011. Doğa Koruma ve Milli Parklar Genel Müdürlüğü, Ankara, p 36

  • Mitsch WJ, Gosselink JG (2015) Wetlands, 5th. edn. Wiley, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Moomaw WR, Chmura G, Davies GT, Finlayson C, Middleton BA, Natali SM et al (2018) Wetlands in a changing climate: science, policy and management. Wetlands 38(2):183–205

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Navid D (1989) The international law of migratory species: the Ramsar convention. Natural Resources Journal 29:1001

    Google Scholar 

  • Özüpekçe S (2019) Temporal change of Burdur Province lakes due to the effect of anthropogenic pressure in the last 43 years (1975-2018). International Review of Basic and Applied Sciences 7(11):85–92

    Google Scholar 

  • Perkins R, Neumayer E (2007) Implementing multilateral environmental agreements: an analysis of EU directives. Global Environmental Politics 7(3):13–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ramsar Convention (2012) Resolution XI. 8 Annex 2 (Rev. Cop 13). Strategic Framework and guidelines for the future development of the List of Wetlands of International Importance of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)-2012 revision. Accessed 01.02.2021 2021

  • Ramsar Convention Secretariat (2016) An Introduction to the Convention on Wetlands (previously The Ramsar Convention Manual) (Ramsar Hand Book 5th edition). Ramsar Convention Secretariat Gland, Switzerland

  • Şekercioğlu ÇH, Anderson S, Akçay E, Bilgin R, Can ÖE, Semiz G, Tavşanoğlu Ç, Yokeş MB, Soyumert A, İpekdal K, Sağlam İK, Yücel M, Nüzhet Dalfes H (2011) Turkey’s globally important biodiversity in crisis. Biological Conservation 144(12):2752–2769.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sullivan CA, Fisher DE (2011) Managing wetlands: integrating natural and human processes according to law. Hydrological Sciences Journal 56(8):1640–1655.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Victor DG, Raustiala K, Skolnikoff EB (1998) The implementation and effectiveness of international environmental commitments: theory and practice. The MIT press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Xu T, Weng B, Yan D, Wang K, Li X, Bi W, Li M, Cheng X, Liu Y (2019) Wetlands of international importance: status, threats, and future protection. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(10):1818.

    Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Zeydanlı US, Turak AS, Balkız Ö, Özüt D, Ertürk A, Welch H, Karaçetin E, Ambarlı D, Durmuş M, Can Bilgin C (2012) Identification of prime butterfly areas in Turkey using systematic conservation planning: challenges and opportunities. Biological Conservation 150(1):86–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang X, Song Y (2014) Optimization of wetland restoration siting and zoning in flood retention areas of river basins in China: a case study in Mengwa, Huaihe River basin. Journal of Hydrology 519:80–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors thank to anonymous reviewers who are provided valuable feedback that improved this manuscript. Special thanks go to Prof. Dr. Sedat Ayanoğlu for his valuable assistance.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



ODE suggested the subject and the method of manuscript; ODE and ÜB designed the research process; ÜB was a major contributor to discussion and conclusions sections. ODE wrote the first draft of the manuscript; ODE and ÜB wrote final draft.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Üstüner Birben.

Ethics declarations

Ethics Approval

Not applicable.

Consent to Participate

Not applicable.

Consent for Publication

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest/Competing Interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Elvan, O.D., Birben, Ü. Analysis of the Ramsar Convention’s Effectiveness on the Turkish Legislation and Judicial Decisions. Wetlands 41, 35 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: