Deforestation in Turkey

All over the world, deforestation is a significant environmental problem. Overpopulation pushes people to find new residential areas and energy resources. Turkey also have that problem. Increasing demand to power, urbanization, accidental forest fires, and new governmental policies have affected green field percentage of Turkey. Many people are uncomfortable with that issue. They know that destruction of wildlife causes broken cycles in nature. Therefore, there are civil society movements and governmental applications to protect green areas of Turkey.

Satellite images of İstanbul
Satellite images of İstanbul (


İstanbul is one of the most affected cities from those changes. You can observe those effects from the figure, which are satellite images from different years. Like other metropoles, İstanbul has problems too. Traffic jam is an important problem for residents. Sometimes going back from office to home could take almost 5-6 hours. People think that they will reduce loss of time if they have their private cars. From this perspective, most of the families in Turkey have more than one car. However, with the increasing number of cars, more people get stuck in traffic. Although the gasoline prices and taxes are significantly high, people continue buying and driving cars. This cause a lot of energy loss and air pollution. To solve this traffic jam problem Turkish government decided to build a new bridge at bosporus. There were already two bridges (Boğaziçi and Fatih Sultan Mehmet) connecting Asia and Europe. The governmental agencies planned to transfer long vehicles (such as lorries, intercity buses, heavy duty vehicles) to third bridge. By this way, they expected to relax traffic jam at other bridges. Its construction process started on 29 May 2013 and it is completed on 26 August 2016. According to a prestigious Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, in the building process of Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge(third bridge) 381,000 trees has been cut. The government promised to public, to plant 5 trees on behalf of a tree they cut during that construction process.

Construction Process of Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge
Construction Process of Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (
Construction Process of Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (,304428)

New Energy Policies

Mount Ida is a mountain in northwestern Turkey, located in between the cities Çanakkale and Balıkesir. This area is known with its high percentage of oxygen all over the world and also with its biological diversity. Mount Ida hosts 77 different species endemic to Turkey, 32 of them are specific to Mount Ida such as Abies Equi Trojana, Hypericum Kazdaghensis, and Asperula sintenisii Achers ex Bornm. Moreover, Mount Ida has rich underground resources. Therefore, there are ongoing mining processes nowadays. Turkish government gave permission to 21 companies to prospect for gold in 2007, although there are protests from residents and local municipality. With that permission, residents suspect that tones of cyanide used during those processes. Furthermore, there are many villages near that area. Villagers sustain their lives by agriculture. They worry that cyanide might affect their crops and their drinking water. Many residents reported that their drinking water started to flow blurry after prospection. Vegetation is also affected by those prospection processes. Sometimes clear-cut technique applied to forest area, which means every tree has been cut down and removed at that point. According to CNNTürk, mining company made woodchopping processes during the night. Then, they cleared those areas until morning. Because many residents stand against that application, the prospection interrupted by protests time to time. Although Mount Ida is a national park, drilling continues in that way. Yet, we do not know how many trees has been cut during mining, but we are able to observe occurring holes and clear-cut areas.

Woodchopping in Ida Mountains (
Mining applications in Ida Mountains
Mining applications in Ida Mountains (

In recent years, similar cases happened in various parts of Turkey. Cerattepe is a hill that is very close to the town of Artvin, in northeastern Turkey. It is noted for its unique biodiversity and natural beauty. It owns the oldest forest ecosystem all over the world. Cerratepe hosts approximately 600 different species. 26 of them are epidemic and 24 of rare species. The area is also on the migration path of birds. Cerattepe is the source of water supply for the town. It has been the subject of controversy and protests since 1992 for a project to construct a copper and gold mine at the site. At first Canadian companies Cominco and Inmet Mining purchased this area via tender. Because of public backlash and lawsuits brought against to process, those two companies left that area without application. However, in 2012 Eti Bakır A.S, which is connected to Cengiz Holding, got license for mining in this area. Residents and non-governmental organizations stand against mining. In 2014 district court decided that the area is not suitable for mining. Then, Eti Bakır prepared a ÇED report (Environmental Impact Report) to demonstrate that they can do mining there. However, that report found contradictory by some experts. Therefore, they brought a suit against that report. Until the case is solved, court stopped applications of Eti Bakır at that area. According to Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, if the government gives permission mining in that a area,  50,300 trees will be felled for the mine. Furthermore, the peak is %80 inclined. Therefore, there are many landslides observed there. Many people worry that a mining industry would be extremely dangerous at there. Accordingly, many people from Artvin and Black Sea keep watch to prevent inappropriate applications of company in Cerattepe. Cerattepe hasn’t had any deforestatiın processes yet but its situation is still critical.

Protests from Cerattepe (
People Protests against Mining in Cerattepe (

Forest Fires

In summer, Turkey has a hot and arid climate in most of its parts. Therefore, forests could easily burn in those times. Every year many forest fires happen various places. At the beginning of September 2017, a forest fire started in Zeytinköy, Muğla. This fire couldn’t easily controlled because of weather conditions and its location. Choppy wind made the fire quickly spread around. Because the area was a residential area, there were many houses. 136 houses damaged during that fire, 40 of them totally burned. Propane cylinders in those houses exploded during the fire. Those explosions also strengthened the fire. According to explanations that to governor of the province made, 150 hectare forest has burned during the fire.

Forest fire in Muğla, Zeytinköy
Forest fire in Muğla, Zeytinköy (

Zeytinköy is just one of the examples that Turkey had. According to official statistics, between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2016 31,959 different forest fires occurred in Turkey. Those fires burned 112,527 hectare forest. 65,845 hectare of them naturally reforested, 7,901 hectare of them planted, 632 hectare of them rehabilitated. 38,149 hectare of them didn’t require any work. According to Turkish constitutional law, burnt areas have to reforest in 1 year after fire. Underlying reasons of the fires are %90 person-driven. However, Turkey is the most successful Mediterranean country in fight against to forest fires. Today, response time to forest fires decreased to 15 minutes. Forests are watched by cameras 7 days 24 hours. Approximately, 3,000 lakes and ponds constituted to shorten response time to fires.

Evaluation and Suggested Solutions

To sum up, Turkey is exposed to various types of deforestation processes. Developments about fire-fighting is satisfactory. Constitutional laws about plantation in burnt areas are good example of how conservation could be supported by governments. However, authorities should also try to prevent fires. Almost all of them originated from human actions. Therefore, it is easier to try preventing them. Just like Didymo example in New Zeland, responsible people should get the root of the problem. There could be a bunch of human-driven reasons such as barbecues used in picnic activities, glass bottles left in those areas, not completely died down cigarette stubs, and stubble burning performed by farmers. However, all those activities are human behavior, which means they could be shaped. If the reason is picnic activities, responsible people might put some warnings to relevant places. Then, they should bring there some instructions indicating how to properly quench your barbecue fire. I am sure that forest fires could be solved by community based social marketing technique, because when people heard about forest fires feel deep sadness. Everybody is intended to do something about that issue. People sometimes voluntarily attend fire extinguishing works. Some companies voluntarily organize planting activities in burnt areas. Therefore, preventing fire rather than trying to plant new trees or trying to extinguish fire will be more easy and  cost effective. Because Turkey is dependent to outsources in energy perspective, trying to nationally produce energy is logical and necessary. However, the application ways should be more sustainable. Rather than riddling national parks, trying to develop production and storage techniques for renewable energy sources would be more effective and environment friendly. This kind of activities will provide job opportunities to many engineers and open the way new industries. To reduce traffic jam, mass transportation should first be optimized and then encouraged, because it is observed that making tunnels and roads did not solve traffic jam. 


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