Environmental Indicators
Environmental Indicators
Executive Summary

Executive Summary

Environmental Indicators Booklet provides a summary of the annual environmental performance of Turkey. The main purpose of the booklet is to represent the relationship between the environment and other sectors,  monitor environmental trends over time, and the results of environmental policies. Indicators are important in determining plans, programs and policies, preparing legislations and provide information thereof. Following the publication of the very first booklet “Environmental Indicators 2006” consisting of 11 headings and 24 indicators, indicators study has been improving in terms of scope and content. “Environmental Indicators 2016” (present publication) contains 85 indicators under 16 topics. Data quality is an important concern in environmental information management. In general, data and its assessment regarding the indicators in this booklet were received from the related competent institiutions where data is produced. Hence, it should be emphasized that accuracy and reliability of these data are under the responsibility of the data provider institutions.

Highlights of each topics of the “Environmental Indicators 2016” booklet are laid down as follows:


In 2016, population of Turkey was 79,814,871. While the population growth rate was 1.34% in 2015, it increased to 1.35% in 2016. Together with the growing population, average age is increasing in Turkey. Population is estimated to start decreasing from 2050 onwards [2].

Provinces that have the highest net migration (difference between immigration and emmigration) during 2015-2016 period are; Kocaeli (25,123 persons), Tekirdağ (24,246 persons) and İzmir (23,766 persons), and provinces with the lowest net migration are; İstanbul (-71,307 persons), Van (-20,133 persons), Ağrı (-17,384 persons)[7].


Economic activities put pressure on the environment; thus, in order to indicate  the environmental efficiency of the economy, resource efficiency or productivity has been identified. Resource efficiency/productivity is the ratio of GDP to domestic material consumption (DMC). In Turkey in 2015 1.5 euros of gross domestic product (GDP) was produced per every kilogram of material consumed. In the EU-28 countries, 2016 figure was 2.2 euros/kg [8].

Domestic material consumption per capita represents the level of efficient use of production and material input for the national economy. In Turkey, domestic material consumption (DMC) per capita has increased from 9.8 tons in 2000 to 12.9 tons in 2015 with a 23.6% incerease. For the year 2013, Turkey's domestic material consumption per capita was 11.9 tons while average value of the EU-28 countries was less than 13.3 tons and the world average was around 11.8 tonnes[9].

Sectorial distribution of GDP and employment are indicators of the national economy. In Turkey, services sector receives the highest share of employees with 53.7%; in more developed countries employment share of services sector is about 70-80%, due to a shift from agriculture and industry to the services sector.


Life expectancy at birth is used to measure status of the socio-economic development, quality of life, effectiveness of the healthcare services and the levels of mortality for countries. According to TURKSTAT data, in Turkey in 2016, life expectancy at birth was 78 years while this number was 80.6 years in EU-28 according to 2015 data. Despite the increase in Turkey, life expectancy is still below that of European Union.

Every year all over the world 2 million persons are estimated to have acute gastroenteritis. Diseases with diarrhea is the second largest cause of death among kids below 5 years of age. In Turkey, number of infectious diarrhea and gastro enteritis cases decreased by 45.7% from 2011 to 2016.

Climate Change

In Turkey, total greenhouse gas emissions (CO2-equivalent,) increased in 2015 by 122% compared to 1990, 4.3% compared to 2014. The biggest cause of the emission increase seems to be the rapid increase in energy consumption due to the high economic and industrial development rate after 1990. Turkey's total primary energy consumption was 135,986 thousand TOE (Tonnes of Oil Equivalent) in 2016. Increase in 2016 was 159.3% compared to 1990,. Despite the increase, per capita primary energy consumption (1.71 TOE in 2016) in Turkey is still lower than average of European Union Countries (3.21 TOE in 2015).

In Turkey, parallel to the energy consumption, CO2 equivalent emissions were calculated as 3.88 tonnes per capita in 1990’s but in 2015, this value went up to 6.07 tonnes per capita[18]. CO2 equivalent EU-28 emissions per capita were calculated as 8.75 tonnes in 2015 [20]. Turkey’s per capita CO2 equivalent emissions are still lower than the average of the EU Member States. Looking at the sectoral distribution of greenhouse gas emissions, In 2015, when greenhouse gas emissions were considered as CO2 equivalent, fuel combustion (without transport) in energy sector, industry sector and others had the largest portion with 55.6%, and it was followed by fuel combustion for transport with 16%, industrial processes and product use with 12.8%, agricultural activities with 12.1% and waste sector with 3.5% [18].


Energy production is an important driving force that puts pressure on the environment,  not only as pollution source, but also by contribution to the climate change as well. Shift to cleaner energy resources like use of renewable energy sources help mitigate climate change because of their lower carbon intensity (lower CO2 emissions per unit energy). In Turkey, while contribution of renewables to total energy consumption was 19.4% in 1990, in parallel with increasing energy demand, this figure decreased to almost 13.1% in 2016. However, this figure is close to the 13.4% rate in the EU-28 countries with 2014 data[67].

Another important issue regarding the environment in energy consumption is energy efficiency.

As compared with the year 2000, there is an improvement of 23.1% in the primary energy intensity index and 21% in the final energy intensity index in 2015. Compared to 2000, energy efficiency index improvement of 2.1% has been achieved in general[59].


Organized Industrial Zones are being established for the purposes of disciplining the industrial installations, improve development plans of cities and regions, improve efficiency and benefits, facilitate industrialization in less developed regions, control misuse of agricultural land, provide common, more effective and efficient infrastructural, environmental and other facilities and reduce pollution.

According to the data obtained in the Register of Industrial installations maintained by the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology, total sales of the installations that operate within organized industrial zones are 19% of the total sales of all the installations in the register for year 2015 and 24% for the year 2016.

Air Quality

Based on the 123 stations with a value exceeding every three years in the period between 2014 and 2016, exceedances for PM10 increased by 22.4% and exceedances for SO2 decreased by 22.5% in 2016 compared to 2015. In the same period, PM10 and SO2 limit values decreased by 11%.

Particularly in winter months pollutants rising from domestic heating cause significant air pollution problems. Besides present studies, it’s thought that additional efforts are required in order to improve air quality.

Water- wastewater

According to the data, water quality of rivers in the basins of Ergene, Kucuk Menderes, Gediz, North Aegean, Sakarya and Susurluk are in class IV (highly polluted water). This does not conclude for all-over Turkey, since monitoring studies were done in the most polluted basins with the most intensive population and industry activity, and the data does not represent whole country.

Compared to 2015, in 2016 biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) decreased in Susurluk and Ergene Basin, however increased in North Aegean and Kucuk Menderes Basins. In the nitrate nitrogen parameter, a slight increase was observed in the North Aegean (Bakırcay) and Sakarya Basins and a decrease was observed in the other Basins.

The water exploitation index of Turkey is 21.3% in 2010, 23.9% in 2012, 21.6% for 2014 and %25.8 in 2016. The warning threshold of 20% for this indicator distinguishes a non-stressed from a water scarce region, with severe scarcity occurring where the water exploitation index (WEI) exceeds 40% [29].

Discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus from land based sources like urban, industry or agricultural sources cause eutrophication. In the 2014-2016 Chl-a assessments showed that all marine waters of Turkey have sufficient solarination. Peak values of Chl-a concentrations occur due to primary production in winter seasons when land based nutrient loads increase. Besides this, no significant difference is observed among years during 2014-2016 monitoring period.

Total phosphorus (TP) concentrations were high especially in inner bays having riverine and household discharges in Mediterranean Sea. TP summer concentrations were higher than winter concentrations. The lowest concentration was observed in 2016 winter season. In Aegean Sea, winter TP concentrations values were higher than the summer values because of high river load entrance to the sea due to high precipitation. In Black Sea, high concentrations of TP along the coast implies the land based pressures. It is known that the Sea of Marmara is an inner sea, which is more influenced from the outer pressure than our other seas.

Rate of Class A (very good) bathing waters decreased from 78.6% in 2015 to 75% in 2016.

As a result of studies for environmental protection and financial and technical assistance given by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation, the number of municipalities and population serviced by sewerage system and waste water treatment plant increased significantly in recent years. The ratio of municipality population serviced by wastewater treatment facilities to the total municipal population has reached to 75% by year 2016 [34]. However, with reference to the data presented by TURKSTAT, the population rate connected to at least secondary (biological) wastewater treatment plant was 43.1% in 2014 [35].


Regarding the waste management principles; the Waste should be reduced at source, then recovery, energy recovery and finally disposal methods should be applied. According to Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation data, 71% of the population (in total municipal population) was served by waste disposal and recovery facilities is in 2016.

Nation-wide data on hazardous waste is collected by Hazardous Waste Declaration System (HWDS), with data entry by the operators of industrial plants that generate waste in their operational processes. By the end of 2016, 60,233 plants in total provided data to HWDS. The total amount of the hazardous waste generated in 2016 was calculated as 1,363,227 tonnes, excluding the waste generated by the mining industry. 79.94% of the mentioned total was directed to recycling; 16.3% was disposed of; 3% stored and 0.75% was exported.         

Land use

According to CORINE (Coordination of Information on the Environment) datas, in Turkey between 1990 and 2012, while forests and semi-natural areas decreased by 1,212,900 ha, all other areas have increased, such as artificial surfaces by 424,867 ha, agricultural areas by 423,756 ha, water bodies by 173,305 ha and wetlands by 159,604 ha. Increasing population, urbanisation and industrialization posed threat to natural and agricultural areas.

Turkey’s geographical position, climate, topography and soil conditions are the main factors which affect the deterioration of the land and increase the sensitivity of drought. There are various erosion types observed all over the country; while water erosion is the most widespread one. 61.2% of the territory of the country faces high level (severe and very severe) water erosion problem.


Turkey is a gene centre for several plant species. The country has a special position as for biological diversity, however, some plant and animal species are endangered and a number of species that existed before, has already been extinct.

The endemism rate is about 34%, in Turkey. Turkey is very rich country in terms of endemic plants; however, these endemic species are under serious threats. According to the criteria of IUCN, 2001, approximately 600 of our endemic species are in the category of “seriously endangered CR” and 700 of them are categorised as “endangered EN”. Among wild animals, 121 mammals, 378 birds and 130 reptiles, in total 629 species have been under protection.

While the number of invasive alien species in Turkish seas was 263 in 2005, this number approached to 500 in 2016. In inland water bodies 25 invasive alien species have been identified. While most of the invasive species in the Mediterranean Sea come through the Suez Canal, most of those in Black Sea are transported to the Black Sea via the ballast waters of vessels [43].

As for 2016, ratio of total protected areas (including areas protected by Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs and by the Directorate General for Preservation of Natural Heritage under the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation) to the total surface area of the country was 9.1%, This is below the World average which was 12.8% in 2014 [47].

In 2015, total size of forests in Turkey was 22,342,935 hectares which constitutes 28.6% of the country’s total surface area. However, 43% of this area constitutes of degraded and either lightly covered or not covered areas.

The majority of the forest fires are caused by people. Cause of the 54% of forest fires in 2016 could not be identified. 31% of fires were caused by negligence-accidents, 10% by natural causes and 5% by intention.

Infrastructure and Transportation

Compared to roads, railways release less greenhouse gas to the atmosphere as they consume energy more efficiently. In addition, less land is used for the construction of railways, thus this plays a significant role in the preservation of the natural environment. In 2016, 89.2% of the domestic passenger transportation and 86.5% of the domestic freight transportation are made by roads in Turkey.

Besides extending the railway network, effective use is also an important concern. Average capacity use ratio in railway freight transport between 1990 and 2016 was 55%. In 2013 the ratio was 75% and in 2016 57%.


In Turkey plant nutrient (N, P2O5, K2O) usage was 2,807,280 tons in 2016 with 27.4% increase compared to 2015. Fertilizer aplication rate in Turkey is 116 kg/hectare (2016 data) while in more developed countries this rate is 200 kg/hectares in average. Overuse of fertilizers does not occur on dry agricultural land but generally on some irrigated land [75]. According to TURKSTAT data, pesticide consumption in Turkey has increased to 50,054 tons in 2016 with a 28.2 % increase rate compared to consumptİon in 2015.


It is known that neither in the world nor in Turkey the amount obtained by catching will not increase significantly. For this reason, the basic approach accepted by scientists in hunting is to maintain production while preserving stocks[78]. Based on the TURKSTAT data, in 2016, aquaculture production decreased by 12.4% in 2016 with respect to the previous year and occured as 588,715 tonnes.

The size of the fishing fleet has been limited by denying licenses for new vessels since 2002. Moreover, in order to reduce the fishing pressure over the resources, considering the balance between the fish seafood stocks and fishing fleet, subsidies according to the vessel size is made to those who cancel their licenses and stop fishing.


Turkey is one of the leading countries in tourism, regarding the number of visiting tourists and tourism income. The number of tourists coming to Turkey for the year 2015 showed an increase as. The number of tourists in 2016 compared to 2015 decreased by 23.28%. However, number of tourists visiting a particular location exert a pressure on the local environment due to land use, water consumption, waste and waste water generation and noise. This requires higher concern and more measures on environmental issues in touristic areas.

As a response in 2016, 381 of 3,641 (10.5%) tourism accommodation facilities have been issued “Environment-Friendly Accommodation Facility” certificate (Green star badge). Moreover, with 444 beaches that possess Blue Flag, Turkey is ranked second place following Spain; with 21 marinas ranked 7th place in the World. This situation necessitates more measures in enviroınmental issues in touristic areas.


Environmental problems are not only resulted from production processes, but they are also related with our life styles and our consumption habits. These habits which form our life style have a significant importance on environmental impacts. Accordingly, the increase in consuming environmentally-friendly products and improving the awareness about the effects of our consumption habits on environment will decrease the pressure in this subject. Besides applying the policies legislated by law, environmental problems can also be reduced by using technological approaches in production, changing our consumption habits, and focusing on more environmentally friendly means and methods especially in transportation, energy and agriculture sectors. In this regard, information management and use of environmental indicators are crucial in policy making, target setting and progress monitoring.