DKM is inspired by nature and its diversity and respects all forms of life, from the simplest individuals to entire ecosystems.

DKM places itself at the cutting edge of biodiversity conservation and works to a high and consistent standard to deliver scientifically sound products.

DKM seeks to understand the local context, working resourcefully and collaboratively to identify pragmatic and innovative solutions, which support sustainable lifestyles and cultures.

DKM puts people first, listening to ideas and sharing experiences in order to find ways to make optimal use of available resources.


The Nature Conservation Centre (DKM) is a Foundation established in 2004 by a group of experienced ecologists and nature conservationists. These experts, from Turkey and the UK, formed DKM in order to provide a centrally organised pool of expertise and technical capacity for conserving biodiversity in Turkey and the surrounding area.

DKM's members have each had a long involvement in nature and environmental conservation in Turkey, with some individual's active interest and experience both here and abroad stretching back to the 1960s. In Turkey, DKM’s members have worked with government, the private sector, NGOs, research institutions, individual experts and volunteers, carrying out major studies of mountain, forest, wetland and steppe ecosystems.


Is it possible to transition to a model in balance with nature after the earthquake?

Resilient and sustainable settlements have been discussed for many years; of course, earthquake resistance is an important aspect of this, but this is a much broader concept that needs to be addressed. It is critical for the future of our country that we take the concepts of resilient and sustainable cities against climate change as a basis, whether for temporary container cities or cities that are being considered for reconstruction. 

Dr. Uğur Zeydanlı, Head of the Board of the Nature Conservation Centre (DKM), emphasises the importance of changing our vision of development and urbanisation and states that we need to switch to a model in harmony with nature instead of fighting against it. "Of course, it is not easy to achieve this transformation, but we have the necessary knowledge, culture and institutional infrastructure. What remains is to act with common sense and co-operation. If we do not plan our settlements, agriculture and forestry within this framework, we cannot prevent disasters such as fires, droughts, landslides, floods and earthquakes from turning into devastation".

With its geographical location, climate and land use approaches, our country faces natural disaster risks with different severities in different regions. Floods, large-scale forest fires, droughts and earthquakes have been on our agenda in recent years. In our country, where the population is largely concentrated in cities, creating settlements that are ready for present and future disasters, resilient and in harmony with nature should be among our top priority targets. If we want to create resilient settlements and living spaces, it is important to consider the social and environmental dimension as well as the economic dimension of the reconstruction process.

It is of great importance to consider climate change in planning the reconstruction process of cities after earthquakes and other disasters. In this context, there are many steps that can be taken in cities and modern cities are being built or transformed in a way to reduce the negative effects of climate change and increase resilience. Although there are many good examples of this in the world, Türkiye's record on this issue is unfortunately weak. Approaches developed by the United Nations and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), such as Nature-Based Solutions, Green Infrastructure, Ecosystem-Based Adaptation, Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital, help to make cities globally prepared against natural disasters and cautious against the impacts of climate change.

These tools are used in many areas of urban planning such as transport, food supply, clean air, flood prevention, drought mitigation, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, noise pollution reduction, treatment, sustainable economic development, public health and recreation. In fact, in modern urban planning studies, solutions are no longer found by using only grey infrastructure, but by using grey and green infrastructure together. The DKM Centre is also implementing various projects in the earthquake zone with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality and Hatay Metropolitan Municipality.

Dr. Melike Kuş and Dr. Burak Güneralp (Texas A&M University), experts at the DKM, list the main topics and approaches to this issue as follows 
- Food and Agriculture: The process of food production and supply is one of the most important issues for a sustainable settlement. In order to reduce the environmental impact and emissions caused by food production and supply, it is very important to meet the food needs of the city from agricultural lands on the periphery of the city as much as possible.  By supporting local production, energy use related to storage and transport will be reduced to a great extent. In addition, shifting agricultural production to the inner city will have benefits related to both social participation and green space. This approach is also critical in terms of food supply security, which is one of the most important topics of the sustainable settlement concept. In the creation of both temporary and new settlement areas, the relationship of these areas and the community with agriculture should be handled well.

- Protection of Water Resources: Saving and efficient use of water resources by settlements and different sectors is of critical importance. Defining the relationship of settlements, agriculture and industry with water correctly is of critical importance for the future of Türkiye, which is under water stress.  Drought and water shortage are phenomena that we will feel more and more intensely. It is obvious that we cannot overcome this with popular approaches such as water transfer, more dams and more wells. Forests and steppes are among the most important elements that should be used and protected for water management. Under the current conditions, losing forest areas and deteriorating the quality of forests also means losing our water. Security of water supply to cities requires a balanced planning between the amount of available water resources, agricultural use and urban needs. Nature-based solutions such as terracing, ditches, increasing the water retention capacity of the soil, efficient use of water resources in agricultural practices, rain harvesting should be considered together with grey infrastructure solutions. This issue is particularly important in provinces such as Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman and Gaziantep where rainfall is less and dry periods are longer.

- Flood-Flood Control: While avoiding earthquakes, it is necessary not to create cities that will be exposed to floods and landslides. This issue comes to the forefront especially in cities like Hatay where winter precipitation is intense and torrential rains can be experienced. It is possible to ensure flood control in settlements by planning natural areas in a way to retain water. Protecting the natural flows of rivers, opening closed streams, protecting natural areas and green areas in settlements, planting roadside and median vegetation, prioritising local species while doing so can be given as examples of nature-based solutions that can be implemented in this regard.

- Energy Use: Cities are areas where serious consumption is experienced in terms of energy use, especially in areas such as heating, cooling, transport and transport. It is important to implement insulation and passive cooling practices to regulate energy use in settlements and to prefer clean energy sources in transportation. Especially the use of solar energy, public transport and alternative means of transport (e.g. bicycles, electric skate-skis) should be considered according to demographic structure, topography and climatic characteristics.

- Urban heat islands: Urban centres where impermeable and heat absorbing materials such as concrete and asphalt are concentrated are warmer than the surrounding rural settlements. The air temperature in these areas can be almost 6 °C higher than the natural areas around them. In order to reduce this phenomenon called the urban heat island effect, green surfaces in buildings, the creation of green roofs, the creation of wind / breeze corridors, the use of wide refuges, the protection and increase of green and natural areas in the city can be given as examples of nature-based solutions that can be implemented in this regard. In addition, natural topographical features such as air corridors, aspect and slope should also be taken into consideration for heat regulation, and the distribution of green areas in cities should also be considered as an important element of heat regulation.

- Ecosystem and Ecosystem Services Restoration: One of the most important issues to be considered in the planning of cities is the existence of natural areas. As we have seen in the examples above, the benefits provided by natural areas and green areas such as parks and gardens are vital for sustainable cities. The ecosystem services provided by such areas ensure that cities are less damaged by adverse situations (disasters, climate change, epidemics, economic crises, etc.) and can renew themselves more quickly. Natural and green areas are the main source of social, economic and ecological sustainability of cities, in other words, their resilience. For these reasons, restoration of natural areas, primarily wetlands, rivers and floodplains, which have been damaged due to human activities in and around cities, increasing the distribution of green areas in cities and realising all these in a way to eliminate existing social inequalities are very important for creating resilient cities. 

Today, it is of great importance that we create modern cities that are resistant to earthquakes and other disasters and climate change and that are in harmony with nature. The 6 February earthquake showed us that Türkiye needs to start taking steps in this regard quickly. We should start to create disaster-resilient cities by protecting and improving natural areas and green spaces, which are very valuable resources in this regard, and making them a part of the urban landscape. While we talk about rebuilding and repairing our destroyed cities, it is certain that a discussion and planning based only on the erection of new buildings will bring us back to where we started.





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