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Western Asia: Northern Turkey, extending along the southern Black Sea region

This mountainous ecoregion in northern Turkey is particularly important for its intact forest cover and the diversity of flora and fauna that it supports. Situated south of the Black Sea coastal zone, the western areas support a high diversity of woody species, and the eastern areas host intact stands of old growth forests that provide food and shelter for a wealth of wildlife species. In addition to a number of raptors, carnivores such as the brown bear and the gray wolf live here with ungulates such as the vulnerable wild goat. There are four Important Bird Areas in this ecoregion, along with a number of national parks and nature reserves.

  • Scientific Code
  • Ecoregion Category
  • Size
    39,100 square miles
  • Status
  • Habitats

 Location and General Description
This ecoregion lies in northern Anatolia and extends largely from west to east in an area not far south of the Black Sea coastal zone. The landscape is mountainous and the ridges act as a barrier between the inner Anatolia continental climate and the Black Sea oceanic climate. The eastern edge of this ecoregion is delineated by the high crests of the Eastern Black Sea Mountains, while lower mountain ridges delineate its western edge. The mountain ranges in this ecoregion can be classified into two groups: the northwest and north-central Anatolian range, with moderately high mountains that rarely exceed 2,000 m; and the northeastern mountains, which are generally higher than 3,000 m.

Due to the barrier effects of the high coastal mountains and the influence of the continental climate to their south, this region has a transitional climatic profile. High precipitation rates of between 500 and 1,000 mm prevail here, and the precipitation regime is winter, spring, summer, autumn for the western and central areas and spring, winter, summer, autumn for the eastern areas (starting from the highest amount) (Mayer & Aksoy 1986).

This area falls within the Euxinic phytogeographical province (Davis 1965). Forest composition and structure show considerable variation from west to east and from north to south (Mayer & Aksoy 1986). While the northern, more humid slopes of the coastal mountains support broadleaf deciduous humid forests, the southern slopes support drier needle-leaf coniferous forests. To the west, fir (Abies bornmulleriana) is the dominant species, forming mixed stands with oriental beech (Fagus orientalis) and/or Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris). To the east, oriental spruce (Picea orientalis) predominates. In the central parts of the ecoregion it is possible to find relict patches of Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani); however, in light of recent studies of the genetic structure of this population and its relationship with Mediterranean stock, its status requires further investigation.

In the southern areas, Pinus species are more widespread as they are better-adapted to the steppic conditions that prevail here. To the west, Anatolian black pine (Pinus nigra ssp. pallasiana) is more widespread while to the east P. sylvestris is dominant. Various other species also contribute to the forest cover, such as: Quercus spp., Acer spp., and Sorbus spp. At high altitudes and especially in the east, juniper (Juniperus oxycedryus, J. communis) and Betula spp., form open scrub or small closed patches. It must be noted that these are broad generalizations about the wide variations that may occur, depending on topography, climate and the natural history of the site.

 Biodiversity Features
The most important feature of this region is its intact forest cover. Forests in the west are characterized by a high number of woody species, reaching 12-15 tree species within 500 m2 in the Bolu, Zonguldak, and Bart?n regions. However, forests in the east are mainly characterized by old growth, covering 108,571 hectares (Kurdo?lu 1996). The Ilgaz, Kaçkar and Gümü?hane Mountains and the Çank?r? environs are known as centers of plant endemism (Davis 1971, Ekim et al. 2001). Kaçkar Mountain endemics are represented by many Colchic species.

The eastern areas, with their intact forest cover, are rich in wildlife. Although brown bear (Ursus arctos) is well represented in both east and west, the more intact forest cover in the eastern part of the region supports higher numbers of this carnivore. Another large mammal that is well represented is the gray wolf (Canis lupus). The ecoregion is also rich in ungulates; it is possible to find Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and wild goat (Capra aegagrus) in the east and red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in the west. Capra aegagrus has been classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (IUCN 2001).

There are four Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in this ecoregion. Among these, K?z?lcahamam is important for its breeding populations of black vulture (Aegypius monachus), a globally threatened species (Magnin & Yarar 1997). The Ilgaz Mountains IBA supports breeding pairs of lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) and booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus). The northeastern Black Sea Mountains lie on the main migration routes of many raptors and so attract a high number of them, especially in areas of old-growth forest. Yedik?r qualifies as an IBA for the large number of ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) that roost there in the non-breeding season (Magnin & Yarar 1997).

Current Status
The most noteworthy feature of this ecoregion is its intact forest cover. However, forests in the Artvin, Rize, Kastamonu, Zonguldak and Bolu areas in particular have been intensively managed for timber production. Here, although, the area of forest has not changed markedly, the quality of the forest has deterioriated due to the management strategies implemented.

There are 5 national parks and 5 nature reserves in the ecoregion. These sites are listed below.


 District Status IUCN Cat.
 Area (he.) Point of Interest Comments
Kackar Mountain Rize National Park II 51.550 Represents a unique and old-growth forest formation. Bird diversity and rich wildlife  
Maçka- Alt?ndere Valley Trabzon National Park II 4.800 Represents Montane Picea orientalis forest. Sumela Monastery is archeological point of interest.  
Ilgaz Mountain Kastamonu National Park II 1.088 Intact forest cover, bird diversity. Its area should be enlarged to cover more of the center of endemism that occurs here.
Yedigöller Zonguldak National Park II 1.636 Represents Black Sea Deciduous forests. Scenic beauty. Since area is famous in the Istanbul and Ankara metropolitan areas, more effective visitor management is required.
So?uksu Ankara National Park II 1050 Important in terms of natural history since it is situated in the transition zone between Central Anatolia Steppe and Black Sea Forest. Breeding populations of globally endangered Black Vulture. Its area should be enlarged. More specific attention to forest management for the Black Vulture populations is recommended.
Örümcek Gümü?hane Nature Reserve Ia   Old growth forest  
Akdo?an-Rüzgarl? Bolu Nature Reserve Ia   A specific variety of Anatolian Black Pine Research is required to understand the genetic and ecological features of this variety.
Kale Hazelnut Bolu Nature Reserve Ia   Forest habitat diversity, wilderness Although the main purpose of creating the protected area was to protect old Hazelnut individuals, there is also considerable habitat diversity and rich wilderness
Kökez Bolu Nature Reserve Ia   Old-growth features  
Sülüklügöl Bolu Nature Reserve Ia   Intact forest cover and tree species diversity  

Types and Severity of Threats
Remaining intact forest areas are likely to be threatened by the Ministry of Forestry’s management plans, which are oriented towards timber production. An important threat to wildlife is illegal hunting. Ursus arctos, Canis lupus, Capreolus capreolus, Cervus elaphus, and Capra aegagrus are most threatened by this activity. Local people also have a negative attitude towards bears because they try to feed in crop fields and on beehives.

Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
The ecoregion consists primarily of the northern units of western pine, cypress and fir forests as well as the subhumid Black Sea mountain conifer forests described by Guidotti et al. (1986). However, the easternmost section of the subhumid Black Sea mountain conifer forests vegetation unit has been included in the adjacent Caucasus mixed forest ecoregion. An area of northern Anatolian relic oak and mixed sub-humid forests has also been included here, truncated at the northern boundary of the ecoregion (at the boundary with the Euxine-Colchic deciduous forests ecoregion).

Davis, P.H., editor. 1965-1985. Flora of Turkey and the east Aegean islands. Vol.1-9, Edinburg University Press, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Guidotti, G., P. Regato and S. Jimenez-Caballero. 1986. The major forest types in the Mediterranean. World Wildlife Fund, Rome, Italy.

IUCN. 2001. The 2000 IUCN red list of threatened species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Kurdo?lu, O. 1996. Do?u Karadeniz’in Do?al Ya?l? Ormanlar?. Do?al Hayat? Koruma Derne?i. ?stanbul, Turkey.

Magnin, G. M. and M. Yarar. 1997. Important bird areas in Turkey. Do?al Hayat? Koruma Derne?i. ?stanbul, Turkey.

Mayer H., and H. Aksoy. 1986. Walder der Türkei, Gustav Fischer Verlag, Sttutgart, Germany.

Prepared by: Ugur Zeydanli
Reviewed by: In process


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