|Guven Eken (Season 02 - Episode 28)|
This Week’s Changemaker; Guven Eken Takes ‘Green’ into Account in Turkey
On 19 May 2011 Sabanci Foundation’s Turkey’s Changemakers hosts Guven Eken, the chair of Nature Association, who makes a difference in protecting endangered species and the habitats that live in Turkey.
New York has a population of 8,2 million. One-seventh of New York’s surface of 786 km2, 110 km2, is dedicated to parks and forests. There are 29.2 m2 of greenery per person in New York. While the same number is 45 m2 in Roma and 27 m2 in London, it is only 6.4 m2 in Istanbul. In other words, the greenery area per person in Istanbul equals one-seventh of Rome, one-fifth of New York and one-quarter of London.
Although statistics on land use and green are cruel, there are changemaking individuals and organizations in this country that takes ‘green’ into account.
Guven Eken’s passion for the environment first began in 1990 when he was admitted to Ege University Dentistry Faculty, where he established, along with other environmentalists, the Aegean Bird Watching Community. Later, he went to Holland for his doctorate degree on “Ecological Sciences and Nature Conservation” and there, he worked on identifying critical environmental zones.
Upon his return to Turkey, he initiated the first study for identifying critical environmental zones in the country. Entitled “Important Environmental Zones Project”, Guven Eken’s most important project at the Nature Association was aimed at protecting the rare species and the habitats they live in. As part of this project, a report that combines environmental studies and information on species facing extinction was published.
Working several years on preventing the extinction of numerous bird species, including the infamous bald ibis, another important work Guven Eken pioneered is a national bird watching database on the internet. Through educational programs, Guven Eken also targeted youth and help them take an active role in conservation of the nature.
Several works of Guven Eken at the Nature Association has become a model not only for Turkey but also for the world. After the “Important Environmental Zones Project” 40 other countries followed the same methodology to conduct their important environmental zone studies.