Freeing the vital feeding rivers to save the Lake Kuyucuk Ramsar Site, Türkiye


Lake Kuyucuk (Kuyucuk Gölü) Wildlife Reserve is one of the most important wetlands of Kars province in northeastern Türkiye. The freshwater stream and spring-fed lake are surrounded by treeless steppe and sparse Phragmites reed patches. This area may be typical of what much of the Anatolian Steppe grassland-wetland community used to consist of before the widespread degradation of its water bodies over the past several hundred years. Located along the African-Eurasian migration flyways, the lake is a crucial stop-over and breeding site for many bird species, including nine globally threatened species; every fall, the site hosts up to 30,000 Ruddy Shelducks. 

Kuyucuk Lake is in a basin with no outlet—snowmelt and rainwater from the 53 km2 basin flow into the lake via five streams. A spring two km away also provides water but is insufficient to keep the lake from drying, especially with warmer summers and increasing droughts. Five seasonal streams carry abundant water, but only between April and August. 

At a glance

Project categoryDam removal: demolition
Project statusLive
RiverThere are five creeks with a total length of 25 km in the 53 km2 lake basin, all upstream from the lake and feeding it.
Km to be opened11
Focal speciesBirds

Project context and opportunity

The villages around Kuyucuk Lake built dams in front of the streams feeding the lake to provide water for their domestic animals, which disrupted the water regime of Kuyucuk Lake in the long run and caused the lake to dry out. This caused the loss of birds and the water-dependent plants around the lake. The project team is working with their association and other protocol partners to eliminate the causes of the lake’s human resources drying up by providing water to the lake. 

Project aims

To prevent Kuyucuk Lake from drying out, our project aims to demolish the two dams in front of the streams that feed the lake naturally and release the streams.