Marine invasive alien species training to reach 9K students

June 27, 2022

With the aim of raising awareness of marine invasive alien species, it is planned to reach around 9,000 students working with 300 teachers in the 2022-2023 academic year.

Educational activities that will contribute to raising awareness of marine invasive alien species threats in schools will begin in the 2022-2023 academic year

Under the joint initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry-General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks (DKMPGM) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) focusing on threats posed by invasive alien species in Türkiye's important marine biodiversity areas, teachers and students’ awareness on this issue will be raised with the support of Teachers Academy Foundation (ÖRAV).

ÖRAV will provide support in raising awareness of invasive alien species in schools and the preparation of primary and secondary school lesson plans. In the 2022-2023 academic year, it is planned to reach around 9,000 students working with 300 teachers. 

Marine invasive alien species are defined by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as one of the main threats to Türkiye's marine biodiversity. As of the end of 2020, 105 of 539 alien species detected in Turkish seas were found invasive. Reducing the impact of these species, controlling and preventing their entry is vital for the future of native species and habitats.

The contributions of ÖRAV, a non-governmental organization supporting the personal and professional development of teachers in Türkiye since 2008, within the scope of the training programme prepared for primary and secondary school teachers in the project pilot regions, were introduced in a meeting held in Ankara on 31 May 2022. At the event, a 90-minute workshop was held for 25 teachers in a classroom environment where they were informed about the project and the training process.

Emphasizing the critical importance of inculcating environmental awareness in children at early ages, Tuba Köseoğlu Okçu, General Director of ÖRAV, said “Our primary mission is to provide support to our teachers in the areas they need, and uphold children’s right to quality education through our teachers. As a country surrounded by seas on three sides, we believe it is vital to preserve marine biodiversity in respect of sustainability efforts in Türkiye. The “Marine Invasive Alien Species Project (MarIAS)” ensured that significant steps were taken on the matter, and we are happy to give our support to the project so that children will have environmental awareness at early ages, learn certain basic concepts, and have knowledge on marine invasive alien species.”

“Addressing Invasive Alien Species Threats at Key Marine Biodiversity Areas (MarIAS) Project” implemented by DKMPGM and UNDP with the financial support of Global Environment Facility (GEF) since 2018, aims to minimize negative impacts of invasive species in support of conserving Türkiye’s globally significant native marine biodiversity. 

Noting that an Effective National Policy Framework for Marine Invasive Alien Species would be formulated during the project, Mehmet Gölge, UNDP Türkiye Project Manager, said “Marine ecosystems are of great importance for climate change, fresh water cycle and biodiversity. Our project, the only marine project in the world in the GEF VI period, supports the development of legal and institutional infrastructure in the country, capacity enhancement, and public awareness-raising as well as preserving marine ecosystems, and combating invasive alien species. By this project that will contribute to achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we aim to raise the awareness of our children on preserving marine ecosystems. By the contributions of our teachers, I believe we will expeditiously achieve such objectives.”

Highlighting the importance that the society should be aware of adverse effects caused by marine invasive alien species on ecology, economy and public health, Muhammed Çolak, Deputy General Director of Nature Conservation and National Parks, stated that “I think such efforts will be effective in eliminating or reducing the adverse impact of invasive alien species which have in recent years started to be a problem in our seas, and see the project as a significant step towards developing a national policy and raising public awareness. It is highly important that people should be learning right from elementary schools that all citizens have critical roles in ensuring that the public is guided to give this matter the importance that it deserves, preventing the entry of and controlling the invasive alien species. Therefore, training and awareness-raising activities constitute one of the three pillars of our project. With this in mind, we planned training activities under the project to teach this issue to our children with spotlessly clean minds, and ensure that they know this concept. To generate maximum benefits and a multiplier effect within the limited time and budget, we will first train our teachers.”