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The Fatma Özcan Swallow Project

Youth develop environmental action plan to save swallows

For further details email: 
Naz Belkaya
or visit: 

Our high school is located outside the city. Swallows are a part of our community. They come every year on April-May and leave with the start of Autumn. We started our project on October 2005 to help the swallows, to control the insect population in the campus and to improve the environment in our community. 

In December 2005, 3 small children died in Turkey due to bird flu. It was explained by the experts that Turkey is on the way of main bird migration routes and the bird flu is contracted from the migrating birds. It was written in the newspapers that there is a chain. The bird flu passes from the migrating birds to poultry, then if people come into contact with the infected poultry they also become ill. 

At this stage we are concerned about our migrating birds, swallows. They may carry bird flu and they may infect the poultry in nearby Muallim Village. We decided to expand our project considering the bird flu which may cause harm to our community. We named our project after Fatma Özcan who died on 15 January 2006 due to bird flu. She was only 16 years old. Her name will live and her nice face will enlighten our way. 

We started our project with a research about swallows. We learned their breeding, feeding, egg laying, incubation and nestling care behaviours. We developed a practical community-based environmental action plan which could be implemented by us. The plan is as follows:

    • All the existing swallow nests in the campus are identified, numbered and marked on the plans prepared. We have identified 85 swallow nests under the eaves and the balconies of the buildings in our campus.
    • During our monitoring we observed that only 62 of the present nests were used by the swallows in 2006 summer. This is a sign of population decrease of swallows in our campus. We will try to find ways to increase our swallow population.
    • To educate our community and the nearby Muallim Village about bird flu we organized a seminar. Officials from the Gebze Branch of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs explained the precautions and mitigation measures. A Veterinarian from the Chamber of Istanbul Veterinary Surgeons explained the bird flu on animals. A Physician from Anatolian Health Center explained the bird flu in humanbeings.
    • Before the swallows come next spring, to increase the public awareness, we will launch one more seminar in the nearby town Gebze.
    • We published our project on the school web site in order to share our knowledge and experience by others and also to create a platform for the young environmentalists.
    • We also have a photograph exhibition. Send your bird photographs to us and let us exhibit them in our web page.
    • We will continue the project during our stay in the school which is four years and to assure the continuation of the project after our graduation we will include new members to the team from new coming students each year.