Impacts of Highways on Rural Landscapes in Turkey



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After being settled, human being developed road networks to provide connection between settlements. Roads are developed with the automobile industry at the beginning of the 20th century. New roads may induce development in previously undeveloped areas, sometimes significantly affecting sensitive environments and the lifestyles of indigenous people. Motor vehicle use has increased rapidly with the result that transportation is now a major source of environmental problems. Human activities within a landscape often result in loss of land cover types, fragmentation of habitats, remaining land cover into smaller and more isolated, disturbing wildlife movements and plants. Transportation decisions affect land use patterns and resulting in economic, social and environmental impacts. Roads often bring significant economic and social benefits, but they can also have substantial negative impacts on communities and the natural environment. Each major highway or other transportation project impacts the environment in different ways. Direct impacts on land used for transportation facilities, and indirect impacts caused by changes to land use development patterns so they can be evaluated from various perspectives, such as a particular geographic area or time period (Mansuroglu, 1999).

In Turkey first years of the Republic, railway construction which was accepted as the most contemporary technology in that era, was important for the transportation sector and railways had priority rather than highways. In 1923 there was 18 350 km road network. However, it was understood that just railway wasn’t sufficient and highway was needed for the transportation system, so Paved Ways and Bridges Presidency under the body of the Ministry of Public Works was founded in 1929, and highway construction works gained momentum with the road law in force. With the requirement of directing all this activities by a dynamic organization with contemporary methods, General Directorate of Highways (GDH) was founded on March 1st, 1950. Thus with the new highways policy, divisions under the body of GDH were formed throughout the country (GDH, 2015). Nowadays the total length of highway which is under control of GDH is 131818 km. (Table 1).

There are some negative environmental impacts of highways increasing day by day. Therefore, there is a growing awareness for road projects in the world. Some of these impacts of road projects are damage to sensitive ecosystems (Forman and Hersberger 1996; Spellerberg and Morrison 1998), cause noise, loss of productive agricultural lands (Mansuroglu, 1999; Swanson, 2001), resettlement of large numbers of people, permanent disruption of local economic activities, demographic change, accelerated urbanization, and introduction of disease. To minimize these effects, an approach that takes the natural assets of highway route and land use developments into account at planning stage is very important.