August 03 2012

Environmental and Social Impacts of Canal Istanbul Project, Turkey

Location of Canal Istanbul

When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the current government, Justice and Development Party (AKP), will undergo the biggest project of all times for Istanbul, aptly named “The Crazy Project” by Istanbulites, no one ever thought it would be an artificial sea-level waterway crossing through the entire European side of Istanbul, connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. But when Mr. Erdoğan explained the details of “Canal Istanbul Project” in a press conference on April 27, 2011, everyone was convinced the government was serious.

For Istanbulites, there is no need for the surprise of such a large-scale dream. All through the history of Istanbul, leaders planned on building an alternative gateway to The Bosphorus, which is a natural sea between Europe and Asia. The length of Canal Istanbul Project is estimated between 25-28 miles, the width on the surface is 460 feet and 410 feet to the bottom. The depth will be 82 feet. After looking at locations and dimensional values, Canal Istanbul seems identical to a previously proposed project the government released to the public in 1994.

Related engineering and environment departments at universities agree that the canal will ease the tanker traffic on The Bosphorus by letting all the oil tankers pass along the artificial canal; leaving the natural canal for the citizens enjoyment. Additionally Kadir Seyhan, the Dean of Sürmene Sea Department of Black Sea Technical University, claims that seasonal fish migration through The Bosphorus will increase due to decrease of passing petrol tankers.

Canal Istanbul Visuals: How Will The Life Around The Canal Look Like?

However, the concerns behind the project rely on environmental and political aspects. Greenpeace Turkey states that opening a large scale canal will change the native habitat of nature in the area, excavations will cause erosion, while farmlands and water resources will be affected negatively. Mücella Yapıcı, the Head of Chamber of Architects of Turkey, also added that petrol tankers and vessels will cause the same dangers in the new canal as they cause in the Bosphorus now. The Montreux Convention, which is a 1936 agreement regarding the Bosporus Straits and the Dardanelles, is giving Turkey control over the transit of naval warships. What will happen to the protocol if there is a new canal on the same line? Will it cause a tension between the United States and Russia?

Turkey is eager to start city planning breakthroughs by developing large-scale projects such as The Canal and 3rd Bridge Project, however these projects should avoid negatively affecting the environment and future generations.

What would your suggestion be to tanker and vessel transportation through The Bosphorus?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Nazlı Ödevci

Nazlı Ödevci is a recent graduate of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden with an M.Sc. in Design for Sustainable Development in Architecture. She holds a B.S. in Architecture from Istanbul Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. Currently, Nazlı is working as an environmental specialist and LEED Green Associate in design phase of architectural projects in Turkey. She defines herself as a green design oriented urban & architectural intervention practitioner. She is currently residing in Istanbul but has strong connections to Swedish sustainable design practice.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 at 5:31 pm and is filed under Energy, Engineering, Environment, Environmental Design, Environmental Non-Profit, Infrastructure, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Social/Demographics, Transportation, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


5 Responses to “Environmental and Social Impacts of Canal Istanbul Project, Turkey”

  1. Elif Aksayan Says:

    Bu konuyu başkaları da okuyabilsin diye yabancı dilde yazdığın için teşekkürler :)

    (Well put Nazlı. thank you.)

  2. Nazlı Ödevci Says:

    Thanks for your nice comment, Elif. Thought it’s important introducing such a large scale project to Global Site Plans readers. Let’s see how far the project will go.
    Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

  3. Kaner Says:

    In my opinion, it is better to ask do we really need the canal project in Istanbul? You can always find a solution to solve the transportation problems between the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea. The canal will ease the tanker traffic on The Bosphorus by letting all the oil tankers pass along the artificial canal; leaving the natural canal for the citizen’s enjoyment; however, these are the benefits provided by the portion that is visible – the tip of the iceberg. The most important benefits to the government are not shown to the people, similar to the submerged portion of an iceberg. I do not agree that the canal project is the best way to solve the transportation problems; rather, it will financially benefit those land owners which would have canal-front properties. Is there any possibility that the government and these land owners are mutually benefiting from this proposal?

  4. Nazlı Ödevci Says:

    Hi Kaner
    There must be benefits economically for both local and nation wide, otherwise there is no need for such an endeavor. What concerns me is the irreversible environmental damage that might occur in the area after such a huge constraction.
    What should be done is to look at similar projects in the world. Apply to authorities, ask for public opinion, make an open consortium… There is a canal project between Romania and Ukraine called Bystroye Channel which destroys Danube delta. Hopefully Turkey will stand away of these kind of damages.

  5. Selim Says:

    I wonder how they’re going get (dangerous)shipping to use the canal and presumeably pay a toll while the Montreux treaty guarantees them free passage in the Bosporus?

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