Waters to protect

The Bosporus Strait, through which dozens of fish species migrate each year to the northern Black Sea, is a rich ecosystem. The most abundant species is anchovy. Some dolphins are sometimes observed. But pollution and destructive fishing practices have a negative impact on this environment. Each year, about 60,000 ships cross the river, pouring waste and fuel. In addition, 38 % of Turkish industry is located in Istanbul, polluting the air and water. For years, these plants have been discharging their wastewater into the sea. Similarly, residential wastewater has long been discharged directly into the environment. Since the years 2010, these are processed in plants before being released. But these treatments only remove large particles and the water remains dirty. You should not be advised to take a swim in the Bosphorus Canal, nor in the Marmara Sea, even if some people in Istanbul do.

A favorable climate

The region of Istanbul is home to vegetation very close to that of the Mediterranean (fruit trees, olive trees, vines), with a climate tempered by the presence of the Black Sea and the absence of mountain barriers. These conditions are conducive to a great botanical richness. More than 2,000 species of plants have been recorded here. The most abundant trees are oak, chestnut and birch. On the outskirts of the city, the province of Istanbul is home to the Belgrade Forest, where there are many white oaks and Hungarian oaks. On the wildlife side, at least 71 species of birds and 18 species of mammals, including the wolf, golden jackal and fox, have been observed in this same forest. On the other hand, in urban areas, apart from domestic animals and the many stray cats, it is rare to come across mammals.

Places to walk

Istanbul is one of the cities with the least amount of green space: 5.98 m² per capita, or 2.2% of its total area. The air quality is very poor and is deteriorated by heavy traffic jams (Istanbulites spend 157 hours per year in traffic jams according to the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard) and many other factors mentioned above. At the same time, the population and the number of vehicles are constantly growing, thus increasing traffic jams. We can nevertheless observe, with optimism, that for several years the municipality has been working to improve the banks of the Sea of Marmara. Thus, a green corridor over tens of kilometers has been built in the district of Kadıköy. Caddebostan Park, which is located on this road, is very popular with Istanbulites. They come here to picnic, run, or just lounge on the grass and enjoy the view

Another popular green space is Emirgan Park, which covers 470,000 square metres and is one of the largest in the city. The view of the Bosphorus is sublime. Hiking and jogging trails lead you between small lakes and a variety of trees. If you look up, you may well see a few parrots. The Tulip Festival is held here every year.

In 2020 the Atatürk Kent Ormanı project came into being, it is one of the big projects set up by the new municipality. It is a huge area of 110 hectares including a 12 km trail and a lake. It brings to the city a real breath of fresh air

You will also appreciate the walking paths of the Gülhane Park, or "Rose Garden Park", one of the oldest in the city.

Contested development projects

Concrete and pollution to the test of new generations...as illustrated by the opening of the new airport, at the end of 2018, built on a space that was once a forest. It required the felling of 13 million trees. Ultimately, it is supposed to handle 200 million travelers each year by 2028. The 2013 protest movement, known as "Taksim Square", was initiated by environmentalists who opposed the concreteization of Gezi Park, one of the only green spaces in the eponymous neighborhood. If the mobilisation then extended to other more general anti-government demands, it testifies to the population's interest in these issues and the project to build a shopping centre in this area is now on hold. But this does not stop President Erdoğan from maintaining his highly controversial Kanal Istanbul project. A colossal project to build a canal between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara that would cost 15 billion dollars. Public opinion is not convinced by this project which would represent a real environmental threat. Contestation supported by the current mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoğlu, elected in 2019 on a more progressive and ecological program than his predecessor. The opportunity to change the game?