KuzeyDoga Dernegi (www.kuzeydoga.net) is an organisation that is striving for the proliferation of community-based nature conservation work in the developing world and aims to increase the awareness and efficiency of local people and the private sector in protecting biodiversity.
The project focuses on collecting bird biodiversity data, promote environmental education, village-based ecotourism and community-based wetland conservation at internationally important Aras River Bird Paradise, Yukari Ciyrikli village, Igdir, Turkey
With 288 bird species, constituting 60% of the bird species ever recorded in Turkey, Aras River wetlands is the richest site for birds in the eastern half of Turkey, in a 400,000 km2 area bigger than Germany. The wetlands host 19 bird, 8 mammal, and 7 reptile and amphibian species globally threatened or near threatened with extinction. Another 12 bird species found here are threatened with extinction in Turkey. Aras meets the first four Ramsar criteria (1-4) of a Wetland of International Importance. Even one is enough to be a Ramsar Wetland. Aras River Bird Paradise, lies at the junction of the Iran-Anatolian and Caucasus Global Biodiversity Hotspots, and is also at the meeting point of Aras River and Iğdır Plains Key Biodiversity Areas and Important Bird Areas, none of which have official protection. Aras Valley is the feeding, breeding and wintering area for at least 288 bird species and 109 mammal, reptile and amphibian species. This includes 34 vertebrate animal species threatened or near threatened with extinction. Half of all vertebrate land animal species in Turkey have been recorded here. Birds ringed and satellite-tracked at this wetland by KuzeyDoğa were recorded to migrate to and from three continents and dozens of countries, including Cyprus, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and Zambia.
However, the site has no official protection and there is limited national and international awareness of its importance. Aras River Bird Research and Education Center KuzeyDoga founded has collected all the bird data showing the importance of this site.
With the support of Turkey Mozaik Foundation, the association in spring time, is attaching an individually numbered, identificatory, lightweight and non-corrosive aluminium ring to the leg of a bird after capturing the bird in a mist-net made of a very light and safe material. This helps monitoring bird migration and changes in population size. A bird ring provides information on the country and the address of the ringing station, thus enabling to know where it came from in case they are recaptured dead or alive.